When Jesus gave the “Ask and it will be given you…” teaching, it was heard differently by Matthew and Luke.
Matthew ended it with, “your Father in heaven [will] give GOOD THINGS to those who ask.” (Matthew 7:11) Luke, though, ended it with, “your Father in heaven [will] give the HOLY SPIRIT to those who ask.”
That’s a big difference.
If you only read Matthew, you could set yourself up for prayer fail. You’ll pray for good things, but life teaches you that you won’t necessarily receive them. You can justify it with the thought that God knows best, but still it’s a bit of a jolt.
But if you read Luke, you won’t quite be as bothered by the jolt.
Including in your prayer a request for the Holy Spirit means praying for the power to persevere regardless of the failure you may experience today or tomorrow. It’s not asking God to do something for you as much as asking a partnership with God in moving ahead.
It’s like praying for the spirit of the widow in the story Jesus tells later in Luke 18:1-8 (a story Matthew doesn’t include). The widow wants a judge to give her justice with an adversary. He consistently refuses. And she consistently returns, refusing to take no for an answer.
Had she sought justice only once and was turned away, she could have said that God failed her. But her consistently seeking justice showed that God had answered her prayer. She’d received the gift of the Holy Spirit who doesn’t know the word “fail.”
It’s also instructive, of course, that the widow wasn’t asking for a want. She was asking for something we all need: justice.
6 thoughts on “MONDAY MEDITATION: Prayer Fail (September 23, 2019)”
A good explanation! Thank you Greg for all your messages. Richard
Greg, is it safe to say that the Holy Spirit uses people (and maybe other beings and situations) as vehicles to make His presence known, that kind acts of others are manifestations of God’s promise to send the Holy Spirit?
Lora, I believe we live in a world shrouded in the mystery of a just, compassionate, caring God who is full of surprises. Maybe God just can’t help coming to us in a lot of ways, whether we recognize it or not!
Thank you for this perspective. It is really appreciated here. I always enjoyed visiting Manchester UMC when in MO visiting my daughter and we could enjoy worship together. Always appreciated your sermons. Am so blessed to receive your blogs!! God Bless you~ Judith
Wonderful insight. Luke never disappoints.
Perfect explanation of the truth.