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Posts Tagged ‘Philippians 4:6’

Recently, our eight-year-old granddaughter came up with a most intriguing Christmas wish list that boggled my mind:

Go Go Flamingo (an expensive toy)

Robux gift card (Max: $50)

Cloud Puddy (she means ‘putty’!)

Ipad with Apple pen

Pet hamster

Magic Mixies (another expensive toy)

Bunch of Reese’s chocolates from Nanna and Granddad!

New TV in my room

Five-dollar allowance monthly (optional)

Drivers’ licence, car and keys

Makeup desk with chair and wall mirror

Snuggles Dream Puppy (yet another expensive toy)

Hmm. Nothing like a list that ranges from special playdough and a few chocolates to a drivers’ licence and car—oh and the car keys would help too! Although Maxine has been quite reasonable, I suppose, with her request for a five-dollar allowance each month—especially since she has stated it is optional! I strongly suspect, however, that Maxine may be heading for disappointment as far as this list is concerned, except perhaps for one or two of the cheaper items included. And I know her parents would not welcome a hamster into the household!

I laughed at my granddaughter’s wonderful list when I first saw it. But as I have thought about it since, I have realised I have often made up equally weird lists over the years when it comes to asking God for things. In my late teens, I used to pray I could become a famous opera singer one day! Instead of heading to the Conservatorium, however, I ended up studying languages at university. Now, I think God honestly preserved me from making a big mistake back then.

Much later, I remember praying our children would turn out to be geniuses and always top their classes at school. In the end, God had to show me my prayers were really driven by my own desire to achieve academically, rather than our children’s own desires and interests. I was pushing my agenda onto them—and I was hoping God would step into line and make it all happen.

Of course, we can—and should—bring all sorts of requests to God, as the Apostle Paul urges us to:

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Ephesians 6:18

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

Yet, sometimes, like a petulant child, I can demand things from God, then become upset and disappointed when I don’t receive them. How much better would it be if I took time to try to listen and hear God’s heart on these matters, even as I pray? And how much better it would be too if I accepted it when God, who is all-loving, all-knowing and all-wise, says no or perhaps ‘wait a while’?

I hope Maxine won’t be too disappointed when she doesn’t receive that car for Christmas—I suspect she was only kidding with that request anyway! I am sure she will be happy, whatever gifts she receives. And I am sure she will still love her parents and will know they love her so much too. As for me and those prayer requests of mine—and yours, I hope we can all continue to love and trust God, whatever the outcome, because God will never give up on loving us.

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Have you ever played Snakes and Ladders with a pre-schooler?  Perhaps you too have had the job of explaining that if you land on a square with the end of a ladder in it, then you can actually climb UP the ladder!  On the other hand, you might also remember the deflated look you received when you passed on the bad news that landing on a snake’s head means you have to slide DOWN said snake and thus lose a lot of the hard won ground you have gained!

Snakes and Ladders is definitely a game of fluctuating fortunes, so when our granddaughters first learned to play it, I was quite happy to help them along and ‘let’ them win.  Nowadays the game still has its tricky moments for my four-year-old granddaughter – sometimes it’s a challenge to work out which way she is supposed to head.  After all, is fifty really the next number after forty-nine? Yet on the other hand, she has also become quite resourceful even at her tender age and occasionally tries to employ a couple of original techniques to aid in winning.  One is to throw the die behind her back or somewhere far away and then miraculously when she picks it up to turns out to be a six!  But the other is much more ‘spiritual’ – it involves fervently praying aloud to God to give her a six!

‘Please God – I really, really need a six!  Pleeeaaase listen to me!’ she entreats in an agonised voice, with screwed up face and hands cupped plaintively around the die.

And when, as happened yesterday, she does throw a six, she lets out a sigh of relief and exclaims in a delighted voice: ‘Oh, thank you, God – you did listen to me!’

Now I thought I had better put her theology straight at this point. So I tried to explain that whether she ends up throwing a six or not, God is still listening – and that God doesn’t always give us what we think we want or need.  But I didn’t get much further than that.  For some strange reason it seemed to be going over her head – and anyway, she had lost interest, since she had won the game.

I came away from this experience with the humbling thought, however, that perhaps God was trying to say something to me through it all. At times I’m sure I treat God like a ‘Snakes and Ladders’ God, crying out for help when disaster threatens and only giving thanks when I am rescued – if even then.  Yet I don’t want to be like that – I want to live in a place of rest and peace with God, knowing that whatever happens, God is still the same loving, holy, powerful and awesome God and will be forever.  And I want to ensure that Paul’s words are true of me at every stage of my life – as I hope and pray they will in our granddaughters’ lives:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6)

How about you?  Are you into ‘spiritual’ Snakes and Ladders?

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‘Bothering’ God

The other day I heard a radio announcer talking and laughing about a particular group of politicians in our federal parliament he derisively called ‘God-botherers’.  It wasn’t so much what he said, but the tone in which he said it that ‘bothered’ me.  These people were dangerous, he seemed to be implying.  These people should not be allowed to gain the upper hand.  This was some kind of ‘plot’ to force their ideologies on others and to take the majority of Australians in a direction they do not necessarily want to go.

This announcer did not seem to be talking about an actual Christian minority party, but rather politicians across the board who happen to have a genuine faith in God, who want to govern with integrity and in a way that they believe honours God, who actually spend time praying, meeting with other Christians in and outside parliament when they can and even reading the bible.  And there are quite a few of them, apparently – enough to ‘bother’ this announcer anyway.

It isn’t the politics of the matter I’d like to comment on, however.  It’s more the implied criticism of the whole idea that people seriously think they can ‘bother’ God.  Is it that this announcer feels it’s ludicrous to believe in a God who isn’t even there, or for some other reason is unable to listen to our piffling problems?  Or is it that this God might really be out there somewhere, but is obviously uncaring about the world and what goes on in our little lives?

Strange, but this isn’t what I glean from the bible.  In Matthew 6, we see how Jesus himself showed his disciples how to pray by giving them Lord’s prayer.  In Philippians 4:6 we read:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Then in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we are told simply to ‘keep on praying’.  Just as succinctly, James 4:2 tells us: ‘You do not have, because you do not ask God’.  And even way back in the Old Testament, God seemed pretty keen on being ‘bothered’.  ‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land’, 2 Chronicles 7:14 says.

So I’m into ‘bothering’ God in a big way.  How about you?

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