If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him. Matthew 7:11 ESV
Today’s verse reminded me of how our sons would ask for things when they were children. Every request began the same way, “Daddy (or Mommy if I already said no!), can I have…?” As they grew, the scale of their requests grew. At two, they would ask for a cookie, at twelve, they needed five dollars for something at the store and by twenty, we were helping them buy (or repair) a car. My response was usually either a straight up yes or no, while their mom had a wiser method. She would hold the cookie firmly in her hand and as they grabbed for it, then would look them in the eye and ask, “What do you say?” Usually, they would tug at that treat for a few seconds before the light went on and they would smile and say, “Thank you mom!” Then Nancy would give them a big hug, release the cookie and they would delightedly run off to play, while swallowing the cookie in two bites! Now, that may sound cute, but it is exactly how Jesus teaches us to come. Receiving an answer to our request is not based on our deserving it, or whether it is “important” but on the fact that we are God’s child. He is our Father, and a far better one than we are. So, if we, imperfect parents know how to give good gifts to our children, imagine how much better gifts God loves to give, when we come.
But if we use this verse as a formula for getting what we want, then we may receive our gift and yet go away missing out on God’s best gift. We miss learning the gratefulness of simply being His children. We lose the chance to run off with His words, “Go in peace child!” ringing in our ears and the delight of pausing long enough to receive His hug. Why not come to our Heavenly Father, who loves us more than we can ever understand? Why not start with the confidence of a child asking, “Daddy may I have…?” and then receive the joy of God Himself bending down to give us a hug and His words of “Go in peace! ringing in our hearts!
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9-10 ESV
Though many times we come to the Lord’s Prayer with a mixture of awe and duty, “Our Father, who is in Heaven,” begins with a line full of hope. It is hope because we are praying to a God who loves us enough to make Himself available as a father. We do not call and receive a heavenly voicemail instructing us to press -1- for emergencies, -2- for billing and -3- to speak to an operator. No matter how young or old, no matter how weak or powerful, no matter our success or failure, we are invited together to call on our Father who is listening in Heaven.
We have hope because we are praying to a Father who is in Heaven and sees our lives and our struggles, from a higher perspective than we do. He is touched by our infirmities, but not threatened by them. He bore our sins in His body on the tree, yet they never entered His heart. The whip marks on His back purchased the healing balm for our diseases, though He Himself is our physician. We need never fear that we have too great a sin, too difficult a dilemma or too desperate a situation. These mountains we face, no matter how high their summits, will never be higher than the throne from which our Heavenly Father rules!
We also have hope, because He calls us children- and not just any children, but HIS CHILDREN! John reflects on this in His letter when He tells us how amazing the love of our God is that “We should be called the children of God!”1 John 1:3 ESV. He who created the universe and existed before eternity began, wants us to join Him to spend all of our eternal lives as His children! What greater hope is this – that we should be called the children of God?
Often we do not know how to pray though we feel a desperate need to do so. Here are a few scriptural encouragements that cry out to the only one who holds the answers
In the sermon on the mount Jesus gave us a pattern for prayer. While some question whether its closing verse is part of the original, Solomon prayed with almost the same words more than one thousand years earlier. May it continue to be our own petition till heaven’s kingdom and will indeed are done on earth.