Tuesday, February 09, 2010


I'm reading in Matthew for my New Testement reading. Jesus' sermon on the mount to be exact. And let me say that reading it in The Message makes such a difference to me. I feel like I'm reading the Bible for the first time.


Matthew 7: 7 - "Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn't a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in."

This verse stood out to me for a myriad of reasons:

* Don't bargain with God -
I've heard of people bargaining with God. "If you do this, then I'll do that" kind of thing. I've never understood it. Perhaps because I didn't grow up doing it and didn't really hear about people praying that way until I was older. So obviously, I read this verse and puffed my chest right away with pride because I've never done that.

And then I immediately confessed:) What a schmuck I am. Ugh - I can be such a jerk sometimes.

* Be direct -
I've learned this lesson over the last several years. Although I forget it quite often. The first time I learned it was in a sermon over 10 years ago. We were visiting Cornbread's church out here (we lived in GR at this time) and his pastor talked about direct prayers. He mentioned the flowery rhetoric that seems to flow when people are praying in public. That really spoke to us as the church that we attended in GR seemed to fall under that category (the pastor didn't pray that way, but the congregational prayer was led by laypeople). So the idea really stuck in my head - I'm better at retaining things when it hits me from multiple angles:)

I've also been trying to pray this way for the last couple of years based on the verse where Jesus tells us to Ask. Seek. Knock. Perhaps you don't have it because you haven't asked for it.

This verse in Matthew was another good reminder for me the other day. Although I have made a concerted effort to be direct in my prayers, I find that I veer off after a while... not with flowery rhetoric, but with cat-and-mouse stuff. Dancing around what I'm really asking for because I'm not quite sure its okay to ask for what I'm asking for. So reading this verse reminded me again - ASK. Be direct.

I think about my kids and the round-about ways that they ask for things sometimes. I'm usually standing at the counter, impatiently waiting for them to get to the point. Just ASK. What do you want? I also have been drilling into them the idea that if you state things into thin air, nothing happens. If you ask, you will get a response. Saying, "I'm thirsty" is really nice - and I have begun to respond with: "Thank you for letting me know." Saying, "May I have a drink of water, please?" elicits a completely different response from me.

I believe that God listens to our statements complaints as we state them into thin air. I also believe that He might just roll his eyes at times and impatiently wait for us to JUST ASK (Cornbread actually seemed to have this experience yesterday).

So be direct in your prayers. Check - thank you for the reminder.

* Ask for what you need -
Whoa. This is where my main lesson was in this verse. At first I read through the verse and thought, "That's right - I need to ask for what we want". Wait, wait, wait. Back the truck up for a second... Ask for what you need.

Hmmm. Okay, so I'll go back and figure out what I need and ask for that.

Food. Uh, nope, we have plenty.
Water. Yes - ours is ridiculously expensive, but we have fresh, clean water any time we want.
Shelter. I may not LOVE our house and I may think that it needs to be condemned, BUT we have shelter. And heat. And electricity.
Clothing. Probably too much. And lucky enough for me, I have warm clothes to wear when its cold and cooler clothes to wear when its warm. I also have lots and lots of clothes to choose from everyday. And they're clean. And not ripped or holey.
Health. Yes. We are all in very good health. Moreso than many families who have struggled with ongoing, passing-through-everyone illnesses. No disease. No terminal illnesses. No chronic problems. We run. We have legs that move well. We have hearts that beat consistently and lungs that welcome fresh air. My biggest health concern is acne and I'm learning to let it go.
Money. Yes, that's right - THIS is what we need. I've been praying for this for 5 years as we've dipped into our supplemental... oh. Huh. We have money - its just not the exact source that we desire. And there IS more left to tap into, even though it is much, much less than it used to be and getting to a scary-for-us low. As of today our bank accounts are not empty.

So, Hey - what do we need?

I posed this question to Cornbread after I told him about the verse and my thoughts. Well... it appears that for TODAY - wait, didn't I just read something about not getting worked up over what may or may not happen in the future? Yes, that's right - apparently I don't learn the wisdom that Jesus is trying to impart to me. Okay, so back to Today. TODAY. We won't run out of food, water, shelter, clothes and money TODAY. We won't. Not even tomorrow if I allow myself to think past today. Today we are okay.

What we need today is peace and reassurance. We need to feel that everything is going to be okay. That we're being taken care of. That we have been provided for - in the past and today and if we believe God's promises, we can believe he will provide for us in the future. But today we need Peace. Patience. Kindness. Gentleness. Self-control.

Beyond that, I think we're covered for today.


Jen 2:48 PM  

I have also struggled with that verse/command. I have a really hard time with people who treat God as a vending machine~praying "Please do/give/send/fix this" Because of this frustration, I tend to err the other direction. I just tend to beg for whatever he thinks I need. Well, He's not a mind reader. . .well, he is but you get the point. :-)

And I love the new look!

Brenda B 3:12 PM  

So true and a very good reminder!

Mommy Brain 9:48 AM  

I've been learning about prayer too. One of the things I just read said that we must first pour out our hearts to God about all the things on our hearts, things we are feeling, things we are thinking, stuff we need to confess--being really direct about the condition of our hearts. After we've poured out all that is in our hearts, we've made room for God to pour his Spirit into us...his forgiveness into us...his holiness into us. Being direct and having frank conversations with God is the best way to free ourselves from all the sin and emotions and desires that get us "stuck" ...or make us "not real" We might not actually need what we ask for, but once we've asked we've made room for God's perspective on things... Writing about it and living out however, two different things. Thanks for your writing...you were my devotions today!

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