Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to Ask

My four year-old niece knows how to ask in a way that is conducive to getting a good answer. She looks at you sincerely, with a cute little face that is hard to resist. I am not sure where children learn this, but it can be very effective. Even when they ask over and over again, it can still be hard to say “no.”
In Matthew 8, Jesus encounters two men who made very effective requests of him. One of them was a man with Leprosy, who said to Jesus: “Lord, if you are willing you can make me clean.” The second man told Jesus about the affliction (his servant was sick), but then also said he was not worthy to have Jesus enter his household. Jesus responded very positively to both of these men, granting their requests. 
It seems to me that the two things these questions had in common were faith and humility. Both men expressed their complete confidence that Jesus could grant their requests. They probably had heard many stories about Jesus’ power to heal the sick. However, neither man expressed much confidence that Jesus would grant their requests. They humbly asked, knowing that Jesus was under no particular obligation to acquiesce to their requests.
Although we may have learned how to ask when we were very young, I think we often forget about it when it comes to God. Instead we often ask God “Why Me?” with this glaring sense of entitlement. People sometimes even ask questions of God, while putting on the line whether or not they will continue to believe. We treat God like a vending machine, always expecting to get what we want when we push the right button. 
God is not a vending machine, or even some nebulous “force” in the universe. God is an  immense, omnipotent, and creative being that has a will, not an algorithm. I hope we can learn to treat God that way!

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