I wonder why, if, and how God would spend time listening to the prayers of people like me.
After all there are countless millions of people in more serious and dire situations. People close to death from disaster and malnutrition. War torn nations with children exposed and lacking the most basic needs. Adults young and old, as well as children being exploited through forced labour and worse. The poor, missing meals and lacking sanitation. And even in my own country, so many in need of basic love and support.
How does Jesus even hear these countless needs, and how does he prioritise them. Surely there are prayers that he can simply ignore and others that he simply must act on.
Surely, in a disaster, his power to heal and save are much more crucial than in my comfortable and privileged situation.
Surely my concerns, involving debates on theology and orthodoxy, as well as more frivolous desires are of minimal interest to the Holy God who can see those who are truly suffering.
Surely my prayers would be more valuable if they were directed outwardly and laterally. Don’t worry about me, I’m fine, help those without enough food, help those who need shelter and safety, help the children who are helpless and in danger. Give wisdom and strength to those in leadership in places that need important decisions to be made, that make a difference to the future of people that are truly disadvantaged... maybe my prayers could be used to add weight to the more important prayers, the prayers of genuine need, the prayers of those in desperate situations.
Or maybe my prayer should be, “tell me how I can help those who need my help the most”,
Which is also asking God to show us where and what he wants us to do.
Which is another way of saying
“God, if you want to, give me a job, I’m
ready to serve you.”
But are we really ready to serve God?
Or are we even worthy?
Are we even worthy to approach the unapproachable holy God in prayer?
Why would God be even willing to listen to us when everything we do, continually, is simply self serving, self centred, self glorifying, selfishly greedy, self, self, self,
And once we realise that we are in this terrible self-centred condition, can we actually do anything to, 1. change, and 2. make up for it?
Who is to say that, lets say, 5 years of selfless serving of others in a third world country would have any value in restoring a broken relationship with God.
If for example, we are guilty of stealing from a particular store. In spite of paying back what we owe for our crime, no matter the circumstances or genuineness of our gesture, the store may ban us from ever entering the premises again. And they would be within their rights.
If that is true for our broken society, surely God does not have to forgive our selfishness, even if we are sorry. Even if we try to make up for it. God does not have to be a forgiving God.
Having our own rules about how to be right with God is useless if we have no communication from God himself.
God goes by his own rules. He has the advantage, morally, legally, historically, financially, and in any and every other way.
Propitiation is the action of not only atoning but also “de-offending”.
In the case of theft, propitiation pays fully for the crime as well as reconciling the relationship between the criminal and the victim, so much so that, the original relationship is not only restored but strengthened.
Propitiation has the power to transform and rehabilitate the criminal so that he/or she can take up a trusted role in the society or family where they belong.
Propitiation costs dearly, preciously. It involves blood, and not just any blood. The suffering death and resurrection of the holy, spotless, pure lamb of God. God himself, out of his own good and perfect will, provides the Lamb, his Son. His only begotten and beloved Son.
Unless we are propitiated, we have no place in God’s agenda, his plan for humanity, his action in the world, his goal for all history, his kingdom.
But if we are propitiated, then we can pray.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done.”
And if we are willing, God is willing to answer that request to serve him.