Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Jesus Saviour Pilot Me"1 (Lyrics)
Psalm 143:1 – Hear my prayer, O Lord. Listen when I ask for help. Answer me because You are faithful and right. (NLV)
The state of Oregon is known and loved for its verdant greenery. The source of this verdure is no secret — rain, rain, rain! Most of the time, we Oregonians satisfactorily work around this rain, but planning outdoor events can often be tricky. An example was my grandson's high school graduation in mid-June. The graduating seniors were ecstatic at the thought of a full-fledged, in-person graduation ceremony after so many months of school at home during the pandemic. The event was to be held in the football stadium — rain or shine — but the weather forecast was ominous; rain was predicted for the entire day. People came prepared, nonetheless, and after a light whisper of rain at first, raindrops began to fall in earnest, and umbrellas began to pop up all over the stadium.
The preceding day, my fervent prayer had been, "Lord, please bring good from graduation tomorrow. May it be a day that everyone can look back on with joy, regardless of what the weather does!" As I saw new graduates scattered in happy clusters all over the football field following the ceremony, I knew that my prayer had been answered. Damp graduation gowns and drooping, misshapen mortarboards hadn't dampened their spirits.
My prayers for this special event made me think of other prayers that we sometimes pray. There are the "parking space" prayers. People happily report how God provided — in answer to their earnest prayer — the perfect parking spot. Then, there are the "Dr. Jesus" prayers. Church prayer lists are filled with health concerns for healing or deliverance from pain, not necessarily for growth in faith through the trial, which would be a better focus. We may pray for the perfect job, or for the best house in the best neighbourhood. We may pray for a good grade on an exam, or for our children to be accepted at their preferred schools.
Many of our prayers are for our own wants or perceived needs. The Lord's Prayer, in contrast, as the perfect model for our prayers, gives little attention to personal concerns. The focus is, instead, on reverence for God and for His work and will on earth to be done. There is also an emphasis on our need to forgive and to be forgiven, and to withstand the wiles of Satan.
Does this mean that we shouldn't pray for good weather for an outdoor wedding, or for Uncle Joe's cancer treatment to be successful, or even for that convenient parking space? Not at all. God invites us to pray about even the minutiae in our daily lives, but we must beware of treating Him like our personal celestial genie, ready to respond to our every wish. The essential thing is to pray with an accepting heart, willing to trust God to answer as He chooses, because He knows what is best.
Prayer: Dear gracious Father in heaven, we so often pray for You to grant our requests for what we want or think we need. May we be willing to accept Your will, however You choose to answer. Amen.