First Reading: Gen 18:20-32; Psalm: 138. R. v. 3a; Second Reading: Col 2:12-14; Gospel: Lk 11:1-13



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Recently, I stumbled on a post on Facebook. It was a polemic against the Christian God who according to the writer is not spontaneous in punishing evil doers. The writer further argued that the Christian God was impotent or perhaps too weak to save even the righteous from harm. He then claimed that the deity he serves will act on the contrary. According to him, African deities are very spontaneous, saving the virtuous from harm and punishing evil doers accordingly and almost immediately. I could infer from his argument his inadvertent claim that the deity he serves was very predictable since the dealings of this deity and how it unfolds is known before beforehand by his subjects. I could also deduce from his submission that this same deity is believed to answer instantaneously when invoked and does exactly what he is asked to do by his worshippers. What a god.

First of all, I wondered if this god he serves was a programmed deity. Like some sort of robotic configurations patterned to predictable responses. A god whose subjects dictate how he acts, when he acts and what he acts. A god without ‘will’ and ‘intellect’. I then wondered if this deity was truly qualified to be called a god. I wonder what you think too.

The Christian God, the Almighty God should not be conceived as such. But unfortunately some of us do see God in this light. Unintentionally, we tend to see God as one who should be ready to carry out whatever we ask him to do. We feel that God should answer us how we want, when we want and grant exactly what we want. Isn’t this the reason why we coined what we call “unanswered prayer?” Because the very intention we asked for was not exactly granted by God or granted at all.

Jesus said “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” This statement suggests the volition of God. The God whose actions are informed by the intellect and free will. The God who is not impulsive to requests, but the thinking God, the knowledgeable God, the visionary God, the God who wills and does what he sees right.

If God should answer all we ask of him, there will be chaos in the world. Between a cancer patient praying for a quick death to end the pain of cancer and a friend praying for the recovery of the cancer patient, who should God answer? Between a farmer praying for rain to water his crops and a neighbour in the immediate vicinity praying for sunshine to dry his clothes, which of them deserves God’s reply?

When Jesus said “Ask”, he didn’t say we will be given what we asked for but that we shall receive. When he said “Seek”, he didn’t specify what we will find but he only said we shall find. And when he said “Knock”, he didn’t disclose what we will see when the door is opened; he only said it shall be opened. The man in the parable who came to his friend by night asking for some loaves for his visitor was reported to have received what he asked for due to his importunity. This however does not imply that we shall get whatever we ask of God if we persist in asking. For if this man was asking for something wrong, his friend would not have yielded even if he had persisted. We cannot compel God to do our will. We only appeal while God decides.

The intercessory role of Abraham in the first reading was not direct and coercive. Abraham’s back and forth appeal to God was dependent on God’s decision. Abraham didn’t ask God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah supposing he finds fifty, forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty or ten righteous people there. But instead he asked ‘Suppose there are fifty, forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty or ten righteous people, will you destroy the city?’ And then God decided in each case what he would do. So Abraham was only making an appeal while God was the one making the decisions.

We need to trust in God with the kind of trust a child has in its earthly father. A parent who is on transit with the child in a public transport service will not give to the child whatever the child wants to eat for the fear of allergies or stomach upset. Children can be extravagant in requesting but parents see beyond these requests to envisage the good and wellbeing of the child. How much more our heavenly Father.

Prayer is depending on God’s volition. It is a request and not a command. Prayer is not a key to unlock God’s blessings as believed by many. For God’s blessings are not locked up somewhere that we may have to use the key of prayer to forcefully unlock and claim them. God’s blessings are at God’s disposal and timely too. We may wonder “Why then should we pray?” We should pray because Jesus taught and asked us to pray. Meaning that it is right and just to ask God for our needs. We should pray because we need to learn appreciation for what we have received from God. And we should pray because we need to show remorse to merit God’s mercy and forgiveness. However, we should not lay claim to anything just because we have prayed but should trust in the volition of God who listens to our cry and blesses us as he deems fit.

Our God is not like the gods of the heathen without will and intellect. It is from God that we all received our faculty of reasoning and to make decisions. So if we are intellectual willing beings, it is because we came from God. So God is the source and origin of our ability to reason and make decisions. In him is the fullness of these faculties. This is why no matter what we will and pray for, we should always trust that our All-knowing God knows when and how best to answer us. He makes no mistake. He is never late. He is always on time.


Lord Jesus, teach us how to pray, wait and trust in you. Amen.

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