What is our intention as we reach out to God?
Sitting in church this morning and observing the people who entered, the thought came to me as many people who are here, that is how many different thoughts are also surrounded by each person.
From Luke’s Gospel Jesus told a parable about two men who came to the temple to pray. The intention of each differed according to his understanding of pride and humility. We often find ourselves in similar situations when our prayers to God have a variety of consequences pertaining to what really is important in our own life. (Lk 18: 9 - 14).
It is not a judgment on what anyone has individually that could create peace, anger, frustration, or the need of dropping to our knees in supplication for a solution to the crisis we face. I mentioned peace, as that very well may be the main focus of their trip today.
With the parable Jesus was speaking about, the Pharisee was filled with pride. Even if he spoke from his heart God was the recipient of this man’s boasting. It became a proclamation of all that he should be congratulated for performing to the exclusion of anyone else. A prayer of self-acclimation.
With the tax collector, his demeanor showed there was nothing but humility in his heart and could not boast but only seek forgiveness for his lack of concern for the people he stole from. Both had an agenda and presented their concern to God. One was heard but not listened to, while the other man spoke with humility and was immediately forgiven. That is what the real essence of confession is all about; sincere repentance and the reception of that peace we all seek.
As we all have our particular intentions while contemplating our walk these 40 days, the needs of each of us may differ, but are the very meaning of Jesus’ words: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Mt 7: 7-8). Jesus was not speaking hyperbole, but with authority and God does hear our supplications.
While all prayers are heard, and if they are for the good of us and those we pray for are, answered quickly. However, some may not be good for us immediately and are answered in what God determines will do the best in our time of need. Remember God does not exist in a governing period of worldly time, since time and space are not elements of who God is. Won’t it be great, once we are with God, time and space as we understand it will not exist.
Adherence to the necessity of prayer never ceases and the faith that God will answer every prayer as they are needed by us must always be uppermost within each one.
Ralph B. Hathaway