After teaching his disciples that essential Christian prayer we often refer to as the “Our Father” Jesus makes explicit what is implicit in those words. “Ask, and you shall receive”, Jesus says. “Knock, and the door will be opened to you.” Don’t be afraid to pray as if you really believe the God who loves you more than you could ever imagine is listening, in other words.
The first reading from the book of Genesis illustrates the kind of prayer Jesus is talking about so clearly. God is all set to destory Soddom and Gomorrah (before we go any further – please let us all keep in mind this is a story, and not the transcript of an actual dialogue with God that Abraham taped!) but Abraham pleads with God to reconsider. If I can find fifty good people in the towns, will you relent? So begins Abraham’s negotiation. As the story continues, Abraham continues to haggle with God, ultimately bringing the number down to 10.
In dialoguing like this with God, Abraham is not operating out of Pride – because I’m Abraham, the father of your people, you must listen to me – but out of Faith. God promised Abraham that the Covenant relationship begun with Abraham and Sarah would be binding in perpetuity. Abraham approaches God with the intimacy that defines such a relationship.
Of course, despite Abraham’s fervent petititons Soddom and Gomorrah are destroyed. Sometimes it is not possible for God to grant what we ask no matter how deeply we desire it and with how much faith we pray. It seems like a paradox to say that the same faith which moves us to demand more from God also enables us to accept a different answer than that which we had hoped – or no apparent answer at all. If we truly believe that we are caught up in a relationship with a God who knows us better than we know ourselves and who loves us more than we can ever imagine, then even silence becomes another way in which God expresses God’s presence.
Jim Philipps (3rdmillenniumpilgrim)
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