We were cruising around the block for the umpteenth time. Street-side parking spots are rare in San Francisco, and we urgently needed one. I was grumbling under my breath, my attitude deteriorating faster than an overripe banana, when a small voice piped up from the carseat in back. “Mom, did you ask God for a parking spot?”
“Er, that’s a great idea, sweetie! Why don’t you pray for us?”
So my preschool-aged daughter asked God for a parking spot—and darned if one didn’t appear just down the street, as if by magic.
Hmmm, I thought.
Does God speak to you? One of the greatest joys of the Christian life is hearing the voice of God. He may be telling me what to do, which way to go. He may be revealing new insights about Himself or others. Sometimes I just hear a quiet “I love you,” and those are the words I cherish the most.
One challenge in listening to God is that He so rarely speaks audibly. Rather, it’s that “still, small voice” inside of us, whispering to our spirit. We have to still ourselves to hear Him. And while God is perfect at making Himself known, we don’t always hear perfectly what He has to say. Sometimes, we simply get it all wrong.
We’ve all been asked to pray for various things. Please pray for my sister, she’s going through a hard time. Please pray for me, I have an important decision to make. Please pray, my husband lost his job. And when someone asks us to pray, we feel compelled to say yes. After all, the Bible is full of examples—both exhortations to pray for each other and examples of those prayers. Prayer is an excellent way we can demonstrate our love for people, fulfilling God’s commandment to love one another as ourselves. Jesus clearly tells us to share our prayer requests:
Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:19-20)
- “No, I haven’t prayed about this—it isn’t that important, after all.”
- “I don’t want to bother God.”
- “I’m sure God has more important things to take care of than my little problem.”
Have you ever heard someone say any of these things? Have you?
As finite human beings, it is difficult for us to conceive of an all-powerful, omniscient God. We get overwhelmed—people constantly make demands on us, our calendars are full, and we just don’t have the time or energy to deal with every little issue that comes up. Moreover, when we’re so swamped ourselves, we have a hard time caring about the minutia of other peoples’ lives. Let them deal with their own problems—we have enough of our own.
What are you praying for?
As we close out 2015 and begin 2016, my friend’s blog post suggested we ask God some questions: “What prayers did You answer in this past year?” and “Are there any areas You want me to focus on in prayer this year?” (You can read her excellent post here.) As they were meant to do, those questions started me thinking….
I hate interruptions. I find them particularly annoying. Put me in front of a computer and give me an article to write or a pile of photos to edit, and I have no problem staying focused. When the house needs cleaning, I set aside a day and get the entire place sparkling. When digging in the garden, I might forget to come in for lunch. And when I read a book, I often read all 400 or so pages in one sitting, even to the point of staying up half the night.
While this predilection to concentrate can be an asset when it comes to getting tasks done, it isn’t so helpful when it comes to relationships. Almost by definition, doing anything with another person tends to involve interruptions. That’s the reason we do things together in the first place. Parenting takes this to an extreme. As anyone who’s ever raised a two-year-old knows, kids are nothing but interruptions!
Twenty-twenty hindsight is a wonderful thing. As I read once again through the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, God’s warning seems oh, so clear. Both of these prophets warned the people over and over to stop their idolatry, turn to God, embrace justice and righteousness, and live. And over and over the people ignored them.
It’s easy for me, sitting here in 2015, to think, what idiots. God told them what He was going to do! Why didn’t they obey Him? Wasn’t it obvious that an idol they themselves made of wood couldn’t solve their problems? And who would choose to sacrifice their child, when God never asked them to do so?