Good things

Prayer hands
We limit God with our prayers many times, don’t we? We come before him with our requests and seek Him with all of our hearts. We cry out for Him to open the doors we would like to see open before us, receive the answers to the questions we have and to give us exactly what we are asking for. When we don’t get the results we are expecting, we feel disappointed, frustrated and discouraged, don’t we?

Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11 NRSV).

We ought to keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking, but until when? For most of us, we do so until we get tired of it. For others, those who have understood the insistence in the words of Jesus, they overcome the dispair produced by the lack of results and develop an unusual sense of perseverance. Others think that prayer is like jumping against God into the WWE ring, apply to Him a wrestling lock that will twist His arm and back Him against the mat until He finally gives up and conceeds what we are after.

But Jesus knew that God is good. The best of us, mothers and fathers, fall short of the goodness and approval of God. When the young rich man ran to meet with Jesus and called him “Good teacher,” Jesus answered him saying: “No one is good but God alone” (Mark 10:18). The key in Matthew 7:7-11 is not in becoming expert cadgers but to develop an unshakable trust in the goodness of God, our good Father.

Now, following this train of thougth, notice that Jesus did not say that the good Father will give us what we ask, but that He will give us good things. Good, not according to our limited understanding of what is good, but according to the divine understanding of His infinite goodness. His goodness has no borders (Psalms 85), does not get tired of doing good (Galatians 6:9) nor does repay evil for evil (Lamentations 3:22). He cannot be boxed into the specificity of the good that we want to receive. He can give us much more than our limited ability to ask (Ephesians 3:20).

When we pray, we need to come to Him with great expectations; not that we will receive what we ask for to the letter, but that we will receive from God abundant goodness in each of our petitions. If we come before Him with an open mind and willing heart, He will surprise us each and every time with His answer, sometimes of silence to make us wait and sometimes with open doors to make us go. In all, you will always fall short in your expectations. Do not trust the insufficiency of your prayer. Trust in the sufficiency of God’s goodness.

I asked Him for my wife’s health, but he answered with friends I never thought I could have; friends willing to love unconditionally, to give without retribution, to work without pay, and to sacrifice their weekends; friends that do not get tired of doing good to us. They have developed this character of goodness perseverance. They do not only give their money, but also their precious time, their precious thoughtful ideas and creativity in love. I wish my wife could be healed, but I want that thousand others could know the quality of such goodness allthemore.

I asked Him for a miracle in her body, but He answered me with the miracle of His body, the body of Christ

I asked Him for a miracle in her body, but He answered me with the miracle of His body, the body of Christ. One body, joined together in charity and grace, feeling a pain that is not their own, serving those who right now are undisposed to serve them back, carrying us not one mile… two, three, four, forty… how many more, how long the road. O, overwhelming goodness! It does not match our giving history. It is not directly proportionate to our sowing.

How about you? Do you also get frustrated when you do not see the answer to your prayer? Look closer. Look better. Like me, you probably also need to take your focus from the insignificant thing you are asking for and look wider to see God’s goodness all around.