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pray2This morning’s readings center around the category of prayer known as “petition”. From a queen (Esther) in the Hebrew Scriptures, who is in dire straits and is only familiar with the God of the Israelites from books, to the disciples of Jesus in The New Testament who hear from Jesus himself, the message is the same. Ask, seek, knock on God’s door. Keep asking. The prerequisite in our asking, however, is trusting that God probably knows better than we ourselves what is a good answer to what we’re asking. So, if it’s likely we won’t get the answer we want, what’s the point of asking?

For me, it’s all a question of transformation. I start with asking God for what I want. Sometimes, my prayer is answered just as I had hoped. Sometimes it isn’t. I keep asking but sometimes I recognize as life unfolds and I don’t get what I’ve been asking for that maybe what I was asking for wouldn’t be the best outcome. Sometimes I don’t. As I’ve grown older, however, the method of my asking has gradually changed until each time I approach God with a petition it goes something like this: “Gracious and loving God, I know you know the situation. Here’s what it looks like to me. I’m willing to count on your love and wisdom to draw it to the best conclusion for everyone involved – and I’m grateful for your attention to me.” Sometimes I just say, “Please help!” In this way, I still feel involved but am not worried about outcomes. This sounds very simple as I write it but it is rarely easy unless the practice of asking has been bolstered by a consistent spiritual practice of surrender. And there is one more piece, of which the psalmist reminds me this morning in Psalm 138:

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth!