Sunday, May 06, 2007

Can you ask too much?

Last night I was watching an episode of the Simpson's. Bart and Lisa wanted to go to an amusement park, but Homer didn't want to take them. So, for the rest of the day, they barraged Homer with the same quesion over and over. "Can we go Dad? Can we go Dad? Can we go Dad?" Over and over they were relentless in their pursuit of getting Homer to take them. Finally, frustrated and ready to go to sleep, Homer explodes "If I take you will you stop asking me?" To which they joyfully reply "YEAH!"

This blitz approach to getting your way is well known to children. I did it when I was a kid, but mine ususally ended up with "If you ask me one more time, I won't take you anywhere!" I thought my Mom was bluffing the first time she employed this counter-attack, but, to my surprise and disappointment, I found she was very serious.

I have been praying a lot lately for the same things. Over and over again throughout the day I turn to God with the same requests. "Help us get everything done! Help us find housing! Help me get through these last few days of class! Help us find someone to take our apartment!" to name just a few of my numerous requests. I'm torn at times though. Will God respond to me like Homer? In anger and frustration, just trying to shut me up? (Their trip to the amusement park did NOT go well!) Will God respond like my Mom? "If you ask me one more time, you get NOTHING!"

My sinful nature and the old evil foe are constantly trying to get me to believe that God will get tired of me. "Why bother asking? God will do what He wants! You don't want to risk making Him mad, do you?" But these are lies. What is so great about Lutheran theology is its three-fold foundation of Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura. Faith alone, Grace alone, Scripture alone.

Our faith alone, which is a work of the Holy Spirit, tells us that God will not tire of our requests. He has reached out to us first. Had He not been calling us, we would not call to Him!

It is God's grace alone, shown on the cross of Jesus Christ, that gives us proof of that love of God. How could our prayers and requests not be pleasing to the God who gave His only begotten Son in love?

Finally, if these two things don't convince your troubled heart, if you don't "feel" your faith or God's grace in your life, He has given that sure witness to His love. Scripture alone stands outside of us and points us to the truth of our faith and God's grace.

See how Christ Himself instructs us about our persistence in prayer:
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, 'Give me justice against my adversary.' For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'" And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:1-8)

And St. Paul tells us:
"do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Eph. 1:6)

So I will continue to pray to my gracious Father in heaven. I will continue to trust His loving-kindness to hear my prayers. I will give thanks for the good work of the Holy Spirit in calling me to prayer. And I will ignore the foolishness of my own flesh, the world and Satan who tell me to give up.

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