Tag Archives: Petition

A Cynic’s Confession

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV)

When you live in Iowa, you get a larger dose of American presidential politics than most. Iowa is the first state in the parties selection process for presidential nominees. Therefore, Iowans tend to have a more generous dose of candidates, surveys, and political ads before everyone else. I kind of like it, in the general sense. About 95 percent of the time the major media outlets ignore us here in flyover country. If there’s not a tragedy, natural disaster, or the need for a heart warming Americana story, then they prefer to keep their cameras and microphones grounded on the coast. It’s nice to have the opportunity for our thoughts and opinions to matter for a few months.

At the same time, I will admit that the whole presidential circus gets a bit silly at times. I was once avidly involved in the political process, but confess that I have become jaded and cynical the further I’ve progressed in life’s journey. I vote regularly and do my civic duty, but I am increasingly appalled at how elected leaders look out for themselves and leverage our collective future to solidify their personal standing in the present. I’m talking both sides of the aisle here.

As I read Paul’s admonishment to pray for “all those in authority” this morning, I was struck by just how cynical I’ve become. It’s almost to the point of being a fatalist. If I’m truly honest, I have to admit that I find myself thinking, “What will be will be and my prayers, petitions, and intercessions won’t make a bit of a difference.”

Then, I think of Paul and Timothy out there under Roman occupation  and sandwiched between persecution from both Jewish authorities and Roman authorities. Theirs was not a representative republic. They didn’t have a vote. The media of the day was not surveying everyone in Ephesus to find out what they thought, and Caesar was not pandering to the backwater Hellenists. Their political impotence was far greater than mine, and still Paul urged vigilant prayers for all in authority.

Today, I’m a bit humbled to admit how hard my heart has become towards those in governmental authority. I am revising my prayer list. If you’ll excuse me, I have a few petitions to bring before the highest authority of all.

Now, If You’ll Excuse Me…

So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayerEzra 8:23 (NIV)

Before setting out on the long journey from Babylon back to Jerusalem, Ezra had the people fast, pray and commit themselves and their journey to God.

Today, I come out of my quiet time without great insight. Rather, I am struck by a simple reminder to begin my journey, each day’s journey into life, by taking time to petition God.

Now, if you’ll excuse me…

Persistence Reveals the Heart’s Desire

Source: Joe Corvera via Flickr
Source: Joe Corvera via Flickr

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
Luke 18:1-5 (NIV)

Persistence reveals a persons true desires.

When our girls were small they would often come up with all sorts of crazy requests. They wanted this or that toy. They wanted these lessons or those lessons. They wanted this or that clothing to follow the latest fad fashion. I get it. I was a kid once. I remember trying to convince my parents to send me to a fancy boarding school.

What I’ve observed over time is that the human heart is fickle. We are so easily tossed about like a dinghy on the high seas. The internet and social media has made it even worse. What was trending yesterday is old news today. It’s so easy for our hearts to chase after the mania of the moment.

When a person persistently pursues one thing over a long period of time, I believe that it reveals something about that person’s heart. It may not be the right thing. It may not be the appropriate thing. It does, however, say something about the true nature of that person truly desires.

I learned as a parent that if I simply acknowledged then ignored my children’s crazy requests the vast majority of them simply went away with the changing of the wind. It was when I began hearing the same request repeated over a long period of time that I realized it was something I might want to really consider.

The lesson of Jesus’ parable (above) is pretty clear. A persistent prayer gets acknowledged. This morning I’m thinking about my own requests to God. I am the first to acknowledge that I am not always persistent in my prayers. Perhaps God is waiting for my persistence to find out what I truly desire.

Chapter-a-Day 2 Kings 20

The whines of a child. "Go back and tell Hezekiah, prince of my people, 'God's word, Hezekiah! From the God of your ancestor David: I've listened to your prayer and I've observed your tears. I'm going to heal you. In three days you will walk on your own legs into The Temple of God. 2 Kings 20:5 (MSG)

When I was a kid, the representative of a prestigious private school on the east coast came to speak to my class. It was a mesmerizing presentation and, for some reason, I got this silly notion that I should move away from home and attend the very expensive and very distant academy. I still remember approaching my parents that night and pleading my case for why I should move away from home and attend the private boarding school (at their expense). I should give my parents credit for not laughing to my face.

Sometimes I think of prayer as a word picture. I picture all of these immature little children pleading their self-centered desires before their father. At the time, my parents dismissal of the strong desire I felt to attend private school seemed callous and unfeeling. I look back now and realize what a wacky idea it was. It would not have been good for me or for my family.

Sometimes God answers prayer with startling efficiency and potency, as with Hezekiah in today's chapter. Other times, I feel like I plead incessantly with little response. It's good for me to remember that I petition God out of the limited and self-centered perspective of my momentary circumstances and desires. God responds to my prayer out of an all-encompassing wisdom rooted in the omniscient knowledge of who I was, who I am, and who I will ultimately come to be.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and _-amy-_