Gn 18:20-32 / Col 2:12-14 / Lk 11:1-13
A family was preparing to move all the way across the country. And the night before they left, their little five-year-old knelt to say his prayers: “Thank you, God, for this day, for the birds and the flowers and for all good things. God bless mommy and daddy and Tina and all my friends.” The child paused for a moment and then concluded, “Good-bye, God. We’re going to California.”
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California: Outside God’s jurisdiction?
The way we pray reveals what we think about God. And most of us make God too small. How much of our praying is really just a clumsy attempt at bribery: “If you’ll do this, God, I promise I’ll be good, I’ll write a big check to the church, I’ll always, I’ll never … whatever.” As if God could be bought!
How much of our praying is like shopping by telephone: Call in your order and then wait for the delivery!
How much of our praying and coming to church is really just an attempt to buy a little insurance against bad luck! And when bad luck comes anyway – as it always does — “Good-bye, God!” Some seats in every church are empty because God didn’t perform on cue: “What good is God, if he doesn’t deliver the goods, if he doesn’t give me what I want? That insurance policy was a waste!”
All of this thoroughly misses the point, both as to the nature of God and the purpose of praying. God is immense and good beyond all imagining, and praying is not about changing God’s mind. God already knows what we need and wants us to have it. No persuasion or manipulation is needed.
Praying is about changing US on the inside. As we open our hearts to the Lord, and listen attentively, and allow ourselves to be touched and moved within, we begin to see things as God sees them, and to want what God wants. That’s the real gift that God always gives when we pray with open hearts: We get reshaped on the inside into his image and likeness, and as a result we get a taste of God’s peace and joy. And nothing is too big for us to face, for now we see and experience everything through God’s eyes. What a vantage point!
This is the gift of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised us if we pray with open, trusting hearts. And it’s ever so much more precious than the stuff we ask for and think we have to have.
So ask, and you shall receive … the Holy Spirit. Seek, and you shall find … the Holy Spirit. Knock, and the Holy Spirit will be opened to you. And you will have whatever you need, no matter what.