Pew news 08th July 2018

Jesus told the story we are focusing on this morning in answer to a request from a member of the crowd.  The man wanted Jesus to settle a family dispute over a will in his favour.  We don’t know the rights and wrongs of the particular case, but Jesus knew that this particular man’s request was driven by greed.  Jesus knew that this aggrieved man was asking him to collude with his own self-centred financial agenda.

“How crass!” we might think, “He might as well abuse the privilege of prayer to secure the outcome of a penalty shootout in his favour!”  But it would be hypocritical to criticise too harshly, as everyone who has set out on the adventure of prayer knows. 

It’s striking that in the prayer Jesus taught his disciples, the Lord’s Prayer, the first three requests are about God and not directly about ourselves.  We pray for God’s name to be held up as holy, his will to be done, and his kingdom to come.   Our need of daily bread, forgiveness and protection come afterwards.  Yet, instinctively our prayers begin with ourselves. 

It’s not that it’s wrong to pray for what we want.  Our Father knows what we want, whether we acknowledge it to him or not.  It is right to be honest with him and tell him our desires.   But prayer has to move beyond that as we grow in faith. 

Most new Christians begin the life of prayer assuming that prayer is a means of securing whatever good outcome seems right to them.  Prayer seems like a way to take control of a situation.  As we grow in faith, we see that prayer is not about that at all.  It’s not about us gaining control over good outcomes. It’s about letting go of what we think a good outcome would be, and asking our Father to bring about whatever outcome he considers best. 

The man with the request about the will tried to get Jesus to back his wishes.  We must all move on from there to Christian maturity that learns instead to back God’s wishes, whatever they might be. 


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