WEEK FIVE: RELIANCE
Philippians 4:6 (NRSV)
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
As we keep learning to rely and depend on God alone, we need these assuring words from Paul in Philippians. We are not to worry- we can always ask God for help! God is here and God wants to help us. Several times throughout the Gospels, Jesus also invites us to ask God for all that we need. In addition, he even gives us his Spirit as our guide and helper. We can rely on God and trust that God hears our every request. Go ahead and ASK!
But if you are like me, you have questions about prayer. Why do the prayers of different faithful people yield completely different results? Are we being greedy when we ask for more, when we have already been blessed so richly? Or why do we bother asking, since our “Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8)? Should we pray for anything more than “Your will be done?”
But perhaps prayer might be like this…
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)
Imagine God’s “every good and perfect gift” on display as an abundant marketplace. SO many of God’s wonderful gifts are arrayed on table after table before us! We begin browsing the market place to discover God’s incredible delights. A variety of colorful treats, nourishing foods, refreshing fruits, comforting bakery items, beautiful artistry, enlightening books, helpful gadgets, and anything else we can imagine. All of these represent God’s gifts for us, such as fruits of the Spirit, guidance, sustenance, and splendor.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine… (Ephesians 3:20)
The display goes on endlessly and never needs replenishing. We cannot begin to see everything or even comprehend it all. In God’s marketplace, everything is free for the asking! God’s abundant gifts are truly more than all we can ask or imagine.
Give us each day our daily bread. (Luke 11:3)
We are free to pick and choose gifts from any and all of the tables. We are only asked that we take just what is needed for today; nothing more. This is practical because we couldn’t possibly carry, use or appreciate everything before us. If we take only the gifts we need for the day, none will go to waste. However, if we find some gifts that would be just perfect for others, we can request those gifts to be sent to them.
So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. (Luke 11:9)
God is providing even without our asking. God is offering strength and help and guidance and comfort and courage and sustenance and healing and more. Everything is here before us. Our asking, searching and knocking are the ways we open ourselves to receive all of these gifts. When we name what we need, our requests become our way of recognizing which gifts are needed for this day. Our requests are like our grocery lists in God’s incredible marketplace.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)
This God in whom we can rely has everything covered. If we forget our grocery list, if we have selected the wrong gifts for the day, or if our requests aren’t the best choices for us, the Spirit intercedes for us. Our requests are heard, understood beyond our understanding, and fulfilled beyond our greatest desires. We will always leave God’s marketplace with full carts and grateful hearts.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. (Psalm 9:1)
Thank you for inviting our requests, hearing our requests, adapting our requests, correcting our requests, guiding our requests, and fulfilling our requests. I give you thanks with my whole heart. Amen.