Day 221 – Grappling With God
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ ” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8
This story is pretty much self explanatory. In a not dissimilar way to persistent nagging, God hears our prayers and will answer if we demonstrate we are serious by sticking with our request.
The motivation for the response, of course, is entirely different: rather than the reluctant submission of a self centred judge, it is the generous outpouring of a loving Father.
The question in my mind is this: “Why cannot God just answer our prayer there and then. Why the need to go on and on?” Grappling with God is such an unseemly business. And yet, in Genesis 32, we find Jacob spending a whole night physically wrestling with a man who he then explains was God. There is a key to a better understanding here. For Jacob was seeking a blessing from God that would see nothing less than his identity changed; Jacob became Israel. And his experience of overcoming in prayer would set up the determination needed to overcome life’s challenges. (Genesis 32:28)
Prayer is not a paper aeroplane to be swooshed up to God for an instant response. Or a couple of paracetamol to quickly disperse that headache. It is a life changing encounter with the Creator that will mould our character as we seek to become increasingly Christlike. For that to happen takes time, commitment and, yes, pain, as we battle forward through the spiritual war zone that is everyday life.
Father God, help me to understand better that prayer is a conversation, not a shopping list; the basis of a growing relationship, rather than a quick fix for my problems. Amen.