Question Marks In Prayer?
Children are given to teach parents the Bible.
I had my 4 year-old march up to me and say, “Gimme some cwackers” with all the authority his untrained tongue could muster.
“That’s NOT how you ask for crackers.” I reacted. “Now, go out of the kitchen and come back when you can be polite.”
Dejected, head down, he spun out the doorway. A few seconds later, in he shuffled back in with all the fire put out of his pride and his lower lip trembling. “Please?” he begged.
Out came the crackers. “That’s better.”
Which brings me to the simple point of our devotion: How do you end your prayers, with a period, or a question mark?
“Ask, and it shall be given you;”Matthew 7:7
One of the basic rules of English grammar is that you end a question with a question mark. That change in ending turns a command into a request: “Give us this day our daily bread.”(Period) to “Give us this day our daily bread?” (Please?)
That simple mark changes the inflection of the voice, slows down the pace of conversation, and places the asker at the mercy of the giver.
But, you protest, in the ‘Lord’s prayer’ (Luke 11, Matthew 6) there are no questions asked. No, of course not. Jesus Christ was not praying that prayer, He was teaching it. There are no questions in John 17 either- the actual Lord’s prayer. Theologically, if you are totally in tune with the will of God, you should already KNOW what He wants. Do you know what He wants?
But wait, have you never read the open ended questions of David: “Wilt thou not revive us again?” Or the pleas of the man Christ Jesus that caught Heaven in an awkward silence: when He was on the cross “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Have you never felt the breathtaking hush displayed when the disciples asked: “Master, carest thou not that we perish?”
I fear that when we ‘ask the blessing’ on the food we are too distracted by our appetites to wait for an answer, so we just tell God to bless it.
I honestly believe that we are unwilling to let God tell us, “No,” and so we just assume He wants what we want. Entitled, we bust into the prayer closet with a million obligations tugging us every way but God-ward, and then we berate God with our words so that He will feel the privilege of our presence. “God, bless so-and-so, and so-and-so, and so-and-so, and help me with…” on and on it goes. We hardly take a breath let alone allow a conversational courtesy pause.
I can tell in myself, based on the intonation of my own voice and of my heart, whether or not I’m placing myself at God’s feet, or whether I am waving a sceptre over His head when I pray. My heart smites me at the thought of that kind of audacity.
“If a son shall ASK bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone?”
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ASK him? (Luke 11:11a, 13)
Out come the crackers. “That’s better.”
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