~The Trinity from Valley of Vision
I've heard all my life that God is not a genie to grant my three wishes or Santa Claus waiting for my list. Having grown up in the days of "health, wealth, and prosperity" messages, I've lived well aware of these falsehoods and abuses of the message of the Gospel. But, in my passion not to exploit God's goodness and generosity, have I stopped asking?
The invitation, really command, to ask comes in the Gospels of Matthew (7:7-11) and Luke (11:1-13). In Matthew, Jesus compares the generosity of a sinful parent who gives good gifts to a child to the Father . . "how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"
In Luke's account, Jesus goes so far as to encourage impudence, or at least persistence, in our asking, as He tells the story of one who is compelled to give because of the the persistent requests of a friend. This story immediately follows Jesus' instruction to his disciples on how to pray. The "Lord's Prayer" demonstrates the heart of prayer. Of asking.
It begins, "Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come." That sets my heart straight right away. This life is not about my kingdom, ambitions, rule, etc. When I forget how I live and walk inside the greater and eternal purposes of my Father's kingdom, my vision becomes myopic as does my asking. Considering the concerns of God's heart and kingdom brings such perspective and peace to mine.
"Give us each day our daily bread." As I ask for my needs, I'm reminded of my dependence on Him for my next breath and His careful provision for all I require . . physical, emotional, spiritual, relational (Matthew 6:25-34). He cares for my soul. No heart cry of mine is insignificant to Him.
I remember how Emmy used to come to me and ask me to kiss her dolly's boo boo. Even I, a sinful parent, cared such for my little girl's soul that I would grant her request. "How much more" does my Father lovingly stoop down and delight to kiss the hurts of my heart and feed the hunger of my soul.
"Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us." If I need to ask for anything, it's forgiveness. Daily, hourly, minute by minute. And because I live as a companion of sinners, I need to give it. This constant cycle of giving and receiving forgiveness keeps me at the cross ever mindful of the heart of God. The Gospel.
"And lead us not into temptation." It seems like a dour ending to a prayer. I can think of many places I'd like Him to lead me to . . peaceful days, fun-filled moments, inspiring settings. But Jesus knew I would need His help to avoid temptation. I forget. He knew I'd meet temptation so regularly that His model for prayer ends with this request. Even the request makes me mindful and alert to the snares along my path.
My Father wants to hear my heart's fears, joys, and desires. The creator of the universe wants to demonstrate His love and power on my behalf. And what does He require of me?