Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Teach us to pray, part 55: Eggs and Scorpions

Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, 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?" (Luke 11:11-13 NASB)

Jesus gave these examples comparing earthly fathers with our Heavenly Father. When a child asks a father for a fish, that father does not reward his child with a snake instead. If the child asks for an egg, his father does not give him a scorpion instead, does he? Both the scorpion and the snake are not only different from what was requested, but are deadly to a child (and to adults, as well). A human father would not fulfill a child's request by giving him something that was similar in appearance to what the child requested but deadly in its nature.

Although we, as humans, are inherently evil, we do not intentionally put our beloved children in danger. We do not put something in their hands that seems to be what they want and need but will harm them. (I recognize that there is evil in this world and there are some parents who would not stop at harming their children, but, in general, this is true.)

If we, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to our children, know how to provide for them in ways that are good and pleasant, how much more will God do good for us when we ask him? In fact, implied in this verse is a very important truth. When we ask God for something, He does not respond by giving us something that will destroy us, even if it is that for which we have asked.

In this asking, my tendency is to be like Jairus, whose daughter was gravely ill. Jesus was nearby, but Jairus spent valuable time and money trying everything humanly possible to save his daughter. It was only when she was breathing her last breaths that he turned to Jesus. It was only then that he was willing to wait for whatever Jesus brought his way. 

It has taken years for me to learn that our Father can be trusted. When there is a need, I can depend upon Him to supply it. His provision may not look exactly like I expected, but it will not be something that will harm me. His provision is always good.

After decades of following Christ, I still have to remind myself of the truth of His goodness in answering prayers, to remind myself of all the kindness God has shown me.

'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NASB

We will look at Luke 11:13 tomorrow, but for today, let us embrace our heavenly Father's generosity and goodness, acknowledging that the One who created us for companionship with Him will never spitefully respond to our requests with the instrument of our destruction. Our heavenly Father is good and His gifts to us, His children, are good, as well. We can depend upon that goodness. His plans, and His gifts in response to our prayers, are good, for our benefit, our future, our hope.

Therefore, let us make our requests known to God and give thanks for what He has already done for us.

"Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done." 
                                   Philippians 4:6 NLT