March 7th, 2013: The Twentieth Day of Lent

March 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

~Matthew 7.11~

Finishing up this section on prayer, Christ brings home his point. God cares for the sparrows (Matt. 6.26) and the wildflowers (Matt. 6.30); and, as parents love their children, he will take care of us in the same way. Christ underscores the gap between sinful, human nature and divine perfection here. He calls his audience “sinful,” but even sinful parents have the basic understanding of how to take care of their children.

Our heavenly Father is not sinful; he is perfect. If even sinful people can grasp this concept, can’t we trust Almighty God to operate in even greater ways? In The Message, Eugene Peterson translates the text as follows: “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust?  If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?” (Matthew 7.7-11, The Message) 

As we wrap up this section, it’s good to go back over where we have been. Christ has taught us regarding prayer (Matt. 6.5-14) and about living free from worry (Matt. 6.25-34). We find the truths of those sections combined in this section on persistent prayer. Christ takes care of his creation; we can trust that he will take care of us. Christ has instructed us on how to pray regarding the aims and goals of his coming heavenly Kingdom; now he tells us to prayer persistently, and we will see the Kingdom breaking in on our broken world.

Today, let’s think about how our prayer lives match up to this understanding. Are we praying persistently, consistently for the aims of Heaven, knowing that God will take care of us and our needs? In what ways are we falling short of what Christ commands us in this area?

Lord Christ, thank you for teaching that instructs me not only how to pray, but what to pray for. I confess that I have prayed selfishly and seldom in the past; please bring me into a greater relationship of prayer with you, one characterized by persistence, constancy, and humility. Amen. 

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