Saturday, August 2, 2014

Asking the Right Questions

"Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:7-8

Do you ever feel frustrated by your prayers not being answered? Or rather, not getting the answers you're hoping for? We like it when God says, 'Yes!' We send out the praises and declare His goodness when He gives us exactly what we ask for, but when the answer is 'No" or "Not Yet', we're not as enthusiastic. We may say, 'God's knows best,' or 'If that's God's will, I'll deal with it.' But we usually don't jump up and down for joy. 'Whoo-hoo! God told me no!' 'Praise the Lord! He said to wait!'--Yeah, not so much. We respond more diplomatically, spout spiritual-sounding submissiveness, and keep asking; after all, Jesus said we can wear God down eventually and get what we really want, didn't He?

No, He didn't.

"Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones?" Yes, He will and quickly!  He did say that.  But we put other words in Jesus' mouth. 'I tell you, he will see that they get whatever they want, whatever they think they need, whatever they think is best.'

When it comes to prayer, we often ask the wrong questions. Instead of saying, 'Can I have this or that?' the better question is, 'What is just?' And instead of wondering if God will be faithful, Jesus tells us to ask ourselves if we truly have faith.

Up first, what is just? What is right, good, necessary, best? For me, for others, for the forgotten? Are my petty wishes worthy of the word justice? Are they really in my best interests? God isn't an idiot. He knows what I really need, what others need. He's not heartless, like a judge to be worn down. He remembers the forgotten--those others have forgotten, not Him.

In Luke 11, Jesus disciples ask Him to teach them to pray. So He teaches them what to ask for: for the Father's Kingdom to come. What's that? A place where God reigns because we believe He knows best. A place where all of our needs are met. A place where forgiven people live and have forgiving hearts.

In Luke 18 He tells the parable about a widow who keeps asking a judge for justice, and here He tells a parable about a friend who gives his neighbor bread after dark because he keeps asking--again we're dealing with a need here. And Jesus says, 'If you know how to give good gifts, won't your Father give you what is good also?'

Jesus also talks about asking for things in faith and getting whatever you ask for if you really believe. But the question is, if I believe what? If I believe He will give me whatever I ask for? This is not faith. It's being delusional. It's believing I know what is best! True faith is believing God will give me what is truly best, even if I ask for something different. That's mercy. That's grace. That's God.

The right question is not asking whether or not God will be faithful. That's a given. The right question is: when God gives me what I need, what is best, what's He's had planned all along, is that what I was expecting?