I have a problem with prayer. And maybe it's not prayer so much. Maybe it's a certain kind of prayer. Or maybe it's a problem with a lot more than just prayer, but it seems to really manifest itself that way. What it really boils down to is this....I have a problem asking for things.
Not all the time, and not all things. I have no problem, for example, asking Keith to please go get me a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos at the corner store. I have no problem asking a waitress for my third refill of coffee. I have no problem asking a good friend for the tiniest favor.
But I have a real problem with asking for bigger stuff. For help. For aid. And especially, in my prayers, I have a hard time asking God for certain things. I'm okay asking God to be near, to transform me, to open my eyes. I love asking for wisdom, for peace, for fortitude. But I have more trouble with specifics. And the bigger the specific, the more trouble I have.
I don't feel right asking God to intervene. I'm uncomfortable asking Him to change things. Bring victory for my uncle in this case against him. That's a hard one. Help my husband find the job he's searching so hard for. Also tricky. Bring me a little more money at work. Stop my brother from making a bad decision. I don't know....I just....can't.
I like to think that it's good. That I'm not clambering for God to just hand me things. That I'm accepting God's will. That I'm being patient. That I'm waiting on Him, as I should. Because God is sovereign, He knows and wants what's best. He's in control. So if He wanted something to be different, then, well, it would be. And since it isn't, He must not.
But then, I also think, maybe that's not right. Where's the line between acceptance and complacence? And can I really be relying on the Lord if I'm also afraid of pestering him? Is it trust my trust in God's will or is it really fear, a feeling of unworthiness, maybe even lack of faith that holds me back?
Last Sunday, our passage was from Luke, chapter 12. "Ask and it shall be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you." A familiar verse, and one that I've loved a long time. But the part that comes right before, was something I've never noticed before. Jesus tells of a man who goes to his friend in the middle of the night asking for food to entertain unexpected guests. And Jesus says that man will get what he wants, not because he is asking a friend who wants to help him, but instead because of the very boldness, or impudence of his request. My biblical scholar of a husband says the word could even be translated as shameless. He will be answered because of his shamelessness.
So Jesus basically says that a request, bold to the point of shamelessness, will be granted, by very virtue of its impudence. And then he follows by urging us to ask, and seek, and knock. It puts things in a different perspective for me. I've never before noticed the very activeness of those words. He doesn't say sit quietly and eventually someone will give you what you want. He doesn't say wait around and what you're looking for will find you. He doesn't say hang out near the door long enough and eventually it will open. No.
There's a new momentum in those words for me. It's not a quiet tap at the door, smiling patiently until someone invites you in. It's leaning on the doorbell at 4 am and believing that someone will take care of me. It's desperately seeking. It's asking urgently. It's throwing ourselves on Mercy and Love. And I don't know exactly how I feel about that. Even now, something in me revolts against the idea of shamelessly bringing my requests before the Lord. So it's going to be tough. I feel wrong asking. With boldness. With no shame. But at least I'm thinking about asking.