Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How We Should Pray...

I posted part of the following verses from Luke 11:1-13 as my Facebook status this morning.
Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:
Father, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
        and forgive us our sins,
        as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.
Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this — though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.
And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
You fathers — if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
When I was a child, I loved these verses! In my childish mind I thought, "If I just ask hard enough, God will give me anything I ask for and everything that my heart desires!" Just like a no-limit shopping spree. Jackpot!

Right? Ummm.... no!

Recently, our Teaching Pastor at church taught on these very verses. He said if you shamelessly persist in asking {just like the man asking his neighbour for the loaves of bread}, God will give you what you are asking for! Here's the kicker though... what is that "good gift" that He's going to so generously give us? It's not "good gifts" as the world defines them to be... not luxuries, not things for our own enjoyment, not stuff so that we can self-indulge some more.

He's going to "give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him"... 
"... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23).
For material things, he teaches us to ask just enough for ourselves, just our daily bread. The loaves of bread that the man in the story above is asking his neighbour for isn't for himself, but for another person who was passing through in the night and was hungry. This was an eye-opener for me!

So often, I find myself praying and asking God to bless me with more... when I should be asking Him to provide me with just enough... and to bless others, especially those who don't have enough! What I should be asking more of from God... is to fill me with more of His Spirit!

I am learning each day to pray in the way that Jesus taught... and appropriating grace on days when selfishness creeps in. Thankful, thankful, thankful for grace!

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