You said if I cleaned my room, did all my homework, and fed the dog, we could do something special.” Youngsters asking favors of parents often start their pleading with such logic. They go on and on, telling the parent how well they’ve fulfilled the requirements for the granting of the favor. Most of us have been on both sides of this negotiation, either as the one pleading the case or as the judge who must be convinced.
The psalmist’s approach to God reminds me of such conversations. Wanting God to save him from his enemies, he tells God how righteous he’s been, how he’s resisted temptations like associating with evildoers. Next, he progresses to “God, are you listening? I have something to ask you.” The psalmist believes that God in God’s steadfast love will save him. He has remained true to the covenant; he has kept the faith and lived righteously. God will answer prayer. But it seems to me that while he’s confident of God’s support, he seems unsure that God’s answer will be to his liking.
How often have we pleaded our case before God, noting our long list of good behaviors that would surely warrant God’s intervention on our behalf? Our prayers often contain too much talking and not enough listening. We overstate our case. We know God is aware of our behavior—the good and the bad. We know God judges, but we forget that God also forgives.
Like the psalmist, we affirm that God answers prayer. “I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words.” We, like the psalmist, have experienced the steadfast love of God in other times and other places. God will incline God’s ear and hear.
Lord, help me listen for your voice and seek your will daily. May I welcome your answers. Amen.
The heavyhearted psalmist gives voice to the feelings of many when he states, “Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry.” In the Genesis text Jacob wrestles with a “man.” At one level, this story is about human struggle with God, but at another level the story tells of a human being’s struggle with himself or herself. Yet even in the midst of our struggles, the enduring word is one of God’s grace. Romans 9 also deals with suffering: Paul’s personal anguish over Israel’s failure to receive God’s messiah, the Christ. Matthew 14 reminds us that God’s mercy is real. Obedient disciples become agents through whom God’s provisions are served to hungry people.
• Read Genesis 32:22-31. When have you felt like you were wrestling with God? What impact did it have on your relationship with God?
• Read Psalm 17:1-7, 15. In what ways does your faith give you strength in the face of adversity? Reflect on a difficult time when you felt God’s presence.
• Read Romans 9:1-5. How do the words of Peter in Acts and Paul’s words in Romans shape your understanding of the Jewish faith?
• Read Matthew 14:13-21. How hungry are you for Jesus? Are you willing to nibble and snack, or are you starving for substance and sustenance?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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