Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter

(Acts 18:9-18; John 16:20-23)

According to the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus said, “’It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35). People who find themselves harassed by church donation seekers may take some comfort in knowing that this saying is not recorded in any of the four gospels.  Their relief may gain momentum when they read today’s gospel.  Jesus quite clearly states, “’Whatever you ask the Father in my name will be given to you.’”  In fact, a form of this promise is found in each of the four gospels!

But what does Jesus mean by it?  Perhaps all of us have prayed for something with faith and persistence that was not granted.  Recently a woman came to me sounding profoundly disillusioned.  She complained that she prayed for her mother to live, but the elder died.  Is Jesus then to be taken at his word?  Of course, he is.  An old African-American preacher once advised, “Until you have been knocking on the closed door for years with your knuckles bleeding, you do not know what prayer is.”  Persistence may not be a matter of days or even years.  It may require decades or even centuries.

Christians have been praying for two millennia that Jesus return soon without its full realization.  We see signs in the falling of the Iron Curtain, for example.  But we also recognize that all earthly progress is bound to fall short of God’s Kingdom.  Encouraged by the progress made and hopeful that it might grow, we continue to pray.  We take Jesus at his word because we have already received more than a fair share of blessing.  We pray always in his name confident that our Father in heaven will grant us all that is good.