St. Columba’s has a tradition of doing a book study in the Lenten season. We are reading Rediscovering New Testament Prayer by John Koenig. This volume is a real jewel and has produced great conversation in our study group. Originally, I had intended to do a weekly post based on the chapters studied. Time, however, has been in short supply. Now, I hope to do a few short posts in the time left.
The subject of prayer raises all manner of questions. Chapter 5 of Rediscovering New Testament Prayer is titled: Whatever You Ask for in Prayer. Chapter 5 deals with several pertinent issues. The title for the chapter itself is based on Jesus assurance in the Gospels that God answers prayers grounded in faith. This is a bold pronouncement and is one that doesn’t always feel true to us. We feel, at times, that our prayers go unanswered.
There are several possible ways for believers to consider this. Perhaps, we don’t see or grasp the answer to our prayers. Sometimes resolution to a situation occurs in an unforeseen way. The timing of event and resolution can be such that we are unable to connect the dots.
It could also be that we are being told not yet. Maybe the time is not right, for us or for others involved. It very well could be that other elements have to shift for a situation to come together. So maybe, the answer is not no, but not now. There may be more to do or more to let go of, before we are ready to have a particular answer.
Of course another possibility is that we are being told, no. No is not an easy message to receive. Most of us like having our desires met. Our individual desires, however, might not be in our best interest or the best interest of all involved. Part of practicing faith is trusting that we are part of something larger. We trust that God is in a position to see a larger view than we are.
Koenig raises an interesting possibility related to the perception of unanswered prayers. He suggests that maybe we are told no or not yet, because we are not asking for enough! It could be that we are not getting what we want because God wants to bestow more than we currently desire. We need to grow into God’s abundant vision of life in the Kingdom and grasp that bold vision. Maybe we are told no because we are not living up to God’s grand vision for us!
Morning Prayer ends with a couple of possibilities. Following the dismissal, there are three sentences from the scriptures with the provided instruction that one of them could be read. The last option really says it all. “Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen Ephesians 3:20, 21