Luke 11: 9 – 13
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
It occurs to me that I am rapidly using up my meagre supply of Sermon Illustration stories. Please then, and when we can gather once more together under one roof for worship in the short period I will still be preaching before your new minister arrives, please do not shout out “Oi you told us that one during lock down” if I inadvertently repeat one.
I have always found it difficult to pray for personal things. To me it has never seemed right to ask God for that which were primarily to my benefit, especially material items.
There was one girl though, who in the days before the First World War, prayed every night for herself. She was a beautiful young lady with raven black hair and deep brown eyes. That was the source of her problem, for all her school friends were blonde with blue eyes, and because she was different she was mocked and indeed bullied. So every night her prayer on going to bed was “Loving Lord in the morning may my eyes be blue”.
Every morning she ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror, but every morning when she opened her eyes they were still chestnut. One night as she went to bed her mother called to her “don’t forget to say your prayers”. Angrily she answered “I’m not praying anymore and I’m not going to believe in God, for he has not made my eyes blue like I’ve asked hundreds of times”. Her mother of course asked what the problem was, she said “God has answered your prayer and his answer is No. We do not know why that is the answer, but there will be a reason for it”.
The daughter was not entirely convinced by her mother’s explanation, but the girls at school found other things to concern themselves with and she grew up to become a very nice young nurse serving in France during some of the most horrific battles of WW1. During this she met and fell in love with a young Army doctor and they married in 1920, just before he took up a posting to a Garrison in India and he was able to take his young bride.
She enjoyed the life of an Officer’s wife for a while but became bored after the excitement of France. Her husband occasionally visited a nearby orphanage and she asked if she could do something to help there too.
The other wives scoffed saying they had tried to help in the past but the Indian children never seemed to take to them. Her husband asked the supervisor of the Orphanage who accepted her offer despite thinking she would soon tire like the others had.
But that’s not what happened. She was a great success, the children loved her and flocked round her, the adults accepted and trusted her and she was able to do great things improving the health and education of the children.
Some of the wives who had tried their very hardest but had felt rejected by the children, although happy for her, also were hurt. One day they asked the Supervisor why she was so loved and they were rejected.
He smiled at them “Memsahib, you are all loving caring women but you are not like us, but the doctor’s wife she is, have you not seen she has dark brown Indian eyes, we know we can trust her”.
God, like any father, answers requests in the best way for his children. It may not be the answer we want but it will be the answer we need. Sometimes the answer is Yes, sometimes No, sometimes Not Yet, sometimes Not this way, sometimes Yes that way.
Whatever the answer, let us be thankful that God hears our prayers and answers them in accordance with his will.
Lord God, our loving Father in Heaven, hearer of prayers, who understands all our concerns, our fears, our hopes, hear us as we cry unto you in pain in exultation, or in hope. Receive the prayer we offer, for we seek to do your will here on Earth.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,