"Thanks and thanks again to Him who offers to the man whom the sorrows of life have assaulted and left naked–offers to him the fig leaf of the Word with which he can cover his wretchedness." -Søren Kierkegaard

A Percieved Incongruity w/ Prayer

Posted in Friends, Questions For You, Theological by matt on Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cayla and I took part in a discussion with our friends in Iraq that – even after a month – I haven’t managed to shake. Fortunately, hours of hearty heart-to-heart can be summed up succinctly:

We’re encouraged to pray, and God says that we’ll find and He’ll give, but we often don’t find or get. Why?

There were a bunch of scriptures that got ping-ponged around the room, but the focal passage, as I perceived it, was Luke 11: 9-10. Jesus says,

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. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Call me blasphemous…but really? Just like that? Where are the theological strings? The context? The important disclaimers? Come on Luke you’re supposed to be the detail guy – give us details!

It didn’t take long for the conversation to became a friendly but flustered tennis match between the ‘feelers’ and the ‘thinkers’ in the room. We discussed the possible contexts, different translations, the preceding parable and the analogy that came after, but perspectives basically stayed the same.

The ‘thinkers’ saw the incongruity: why would God promise to give and then not do it? Especially when we’re asking for something amazing (like for a baby to survive heart surgery). But Jesus doesn’t offer disclaimers or a preface, so how do we interpret this? How do we explain this to our friends who ask why God doesn’t answer their prayers like He said He would?

The ‘feelers’, in turn, pointed out that God welcomes our involvement, and that this passage is encouraging our involvement and that involvement doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll always get what we ask for.

My thinking is that God isn’t talking about giving us stuff, but that He’s actually talking about giving us wisdom and the faith to trust Him, though I can’t offer contextual evidence for that claim. What do you think? Do you see incongruity? Surely you’ve been frustrated or discouraged when it didn’t seem like God was responding to you.

2 Responses

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  1. Da said, on Monday, November 30, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Great talking with you about this. Glad your group is openly discussing the Lord. BTW, He can handle your group discussing this with Him. One of the best thoughts I ever heard about theodicy went something like this, “Could God have created a better world than He has created?” Most of the questions wind round about and end up at the feet of free will, don’t they? Some don’t, natural disasters and such. But most do. So the question becomes, “Would this world be a better or worse world if God had NOT given us free will?”

    Love you Son!


  2. seizeeternity said, on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 9:35 am

    just stumbled across your blog and have been poking around. interesting stuff.

    this is a great question, and one i’ve seen atheists use to disprove the biblical God.I think you are right on with your thoughts on that verse. You could definitly build a case that Jesus is all about the kingdom of God (as we should be too)… and that kingdom is not in physical things, but it is in our hearts.

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