September 30

September 30
by Pastor Jim
What man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  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 7:9-11
 
But what if I ask for a serpent?
 
Prayer is such a simple, wonderful thing … until we start trying to overthink it.  Like, “What if I pray for the wrong thing?”  “What about when I pray for things that are selfish or even foolish?”  Sometimes, worries of this sort can lead us to pray very tentatively, or to end every prayer — even prayer for the healing of a loved one — with, “Not my will but thine be done” … just to be “safe.”
 
Ole Hallesby, a Norwegian pastor, writer, and theologian from a century ago, wrote more than five dozen books, a number of which are still in print.  The most well-known is his wonderful book on prayer.  In it, he gives an excellent example of how we can come simply and confidently before God in our prayers.
 
He tells how, as a father, he always encouraged his little children to come to him with their requests — whatever they were, whether wise or foolish.  Did they sometimes bring foolish requests?  Of course they did, but it didn’t matter.  If the request was foolish — if they asked for a serpent! — he was wise enough as their father not to grant it.  The important thing, he says, was the relationship — that they were assured enough of his love for them that they could come to him confidently and without reservation.
 
So too with God.  We need not fear because our prayers are sometimes selfish or unwise, and that we may at times pray for things which are not for the best.  If we do, God is loving and wise enough to say “No.”  He would never give us something that would be bad for us.  Only once in the Bible do we find someone praying, “Not my will but Thine be done” … and that was a very unique situation!
 
Again, the important thing in God’s eyes is that we come to him — that we trust him and depend upon him — that we feel confident enough of his love for us that we can approach him with the assurance that he will deal wisely with our requests.
 
So pray boldly, confidently; pray as if God really wanted to hear from you and to give you the very best.  Because he does.
 
Heavenly Father, your Son taught us to come to you boldly in his name.  Help us to do so.  Help us to pray wisely for things that do accord with your will, but at the same time to pray confidently, knowing that you will, in the end, give us only those things which are good for us and for others.  For we pray in Jesus’ name; Amen.

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