By Chuck Alley
Reading from the Gospel of Luke, 11:1-13
1 He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3Give us each day our daily bread. 4And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.” 5And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
9 “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Our boldness in prayer is a reflection of our trust in God as our Father. The persistence with which we make our petition is also directly proportional to how strongly we desire that it be fulfilled. If we knock at God’s door in pursuit of those things that we need to live our lives according to his will, then the door will be opened — according to God’s knowledge of the best timing. Most importantly, we should pray to promote God’s kingdom in the world — to do what is right in God’s eyes.
God will answer our prayers as is best for us, whether we recognize that fact or not. As our boldness in asking is a matter of faith, our recognition of his good and perfect will and his precise timing is also a manifestation of our faith. God is perfectly good, so he is only going to give us what is good. We have the assurance that when we ask for something we need, we will not be given something that will harm us. It goes without saying that the converse is also true. God will never send us evil when we make our request to him — even if we mistakenly ask for it. What father is going to give his son a scorpion to eat, even if the son asks for it?
Chuck Alley is a retired Episcopal priest and an adjunct associate professor of anatomy on the medical faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University. He and his wife, Scottie, have three children and nine grandchildren.
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