Monday, November 30, 2009
Oh Lord, Help us find some parking!
As we were driving around looking for parking, I did what I always do - I asked my son to pray for good parking.
And he dutifully bowed his head and prayed with great sincerity and faith, "Oh Lord, help us find some parking."
And we found great parking - just in time to see our daughter's Nutcracker performance!
I don't know how this became our family tradition but it's been this way for years and it always seems to work.
I used to wonder whether it was OK to pray for good parking. It seemed so...trivial. People are praying for real weighty things - for a job, for healing for serious illness, for peace, and we are praying for parking.
Oh we pray for those other things too but we pray for the trivial too.
But then the truth occurred to me one night during our nightime prayers.
As part of our getting ready for bed ritual, we all gather together in one of our children's bedrooms after everyone has brushed their teeth and washed their face. We sit in a circle and hold hands and pray the Lord's prayer and then we go around and add our own intentions.
It's amazing to hear the things that the children pray for - the things that matter to them, the things that they want our Lord to hear. Sometimes it can sound trivial like a new toy. Other times, it is tremendously profound like praying for the children of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The truth that occurred to me is that it doesn't matter to God so much what we pray for but that we pray. That we take the time to talk to him and share our concerns with him and give our burdens to him.
While God is constant, the power of prayer is that it is transformational - on us.
As we sincerely talk to God, and open our hearts to his will - we are transformed and our prayers change from "me, me, me" to praying for others. And that prayer, leads to change and to action.
These are hard times. The problems in our world are real and they are difficult. War, the bad economy, disease, politics, they can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed. But Christ talked to us about that.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
Jesus is not telling us that we should not do our part in taking care of our families and our society but that we should keep it in perspective. What Jesus wants us to keep as a top priority is our spiritual life not our physical ones. By focusing on our soul then goodness can come but if we place our physical comfort first then it is easy to be tempted into selfishness and evil.
"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Jesus is not saying these things do not matter. He knows we need them but he is emphasizing priorities. First seek God's kingdom and his righteousness and then all these other things will be given to you as well.
In these times of distress, where the media comes out with a new crisis every day, do not despair. God will give you what you need even if it may not be what you want.
If we first seek the kingdom and righteousness, then our hearts will be transformed and we will not see the world as we did. We will have set aside our old selves and put on our new self. Where we saw problems, we will see opportunities. Opportunities for God to show his power and for us to do good.
We may even find some good parking!