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二○一九年六月二十二日/六月二十三日                                                                                    Click here for English version

你們在天上的父

周曉暉牧師

禱告有用嗎?主耶穌說過:「你們祈求,就給你們;尋找,就尋見;叩門,就給你們開門。因為凡祈求的,就得著;尋找的,就尋見;叩門的,就給他開門。」 (太七 7-8)我們的經驗中,卻並不常感到是這樣。人生有許多的求,似是沒有得著。

主耶穌知道我們的疑問,祂從另一個角度繼續教導祈禱的真理:「你們中間哪一個人,兒子向他要餅,反給他石頭。要魚,反給他蛇呢?」(太七 9-10)為甚麼以食物這些日常的事作說明?原來,對於那個時代的人來說,食物都是來之不易。在羅馬帝國殖民政權的管治下,社會結構上不公義的問題湧現。以住在加利利農村的人為例,他們辛勤耕種,卻會食不果腹,皆因為周邊的重點城市,向加利利等地徵集糧食,導致強者得食,弱者則三餐不繼。禱告有用嗎?

可見,這是主禱文中為「日用的飲食」祈求的當下社會場景。當人連生計也出問題,生活的現實逼人,就難以忍耐,落在許多的「兇惡」裡。耶穌卻在登山寶訓不斷教導:

就算現實逼人,都不要貪圖物質;就算現實逼人,都要誠實地看自己,抗拒盲目的批評;就算現實逼人,都要放下憎恨,努力與人和好;就算現實逼人,都要去愛仇敵,不要以暴易暴;就算現實逼人,都要一生人追求神的心意,先求祂的國和祂的義。

誠然,站在困難的場境中,我們會感到難於實踐登山寶訓的教導,但主耶穌還未說完:「你們雖然邪惡,尚且知道把好東西給兒女,何況你們在天上的父,難道不更把好東西賜給求他的人嗎?」(太七 11)主耶穌豈不是與我們一樣經歷過現實中的兇惡,祂的禱告有用嗎?有,因此,祂教導我們禱告的重點,不在於如何正確地祈禱以致能夠「用」到禱告;禱告的重點在於祈禱的對象——我們在天上的父——因祂的所是,使我們的禱告變為有用。我們這些人,還知道留好的給兒女,何況愛我們的神呢?我們直接簡單的祈求,天父是會回應的,祂絕不會敷愆我們。

回到今天的現實中,我們作為天國的公民,要在艱難時勢活出登山寶訓的生活,實在不易。但主耶穌明明的說:祈求、尋找、叩門,必蒙回應。所以,我們仍要禱告,求得今天所需要的能力與智慧,因為我們有一位在天上的父。






Pastor's Sharing
Your Father in Heaven
Rev Arnold Chow


Does prayer work? The Lords Jesus has said: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened" (Matthew 7:7-8). Nevertheless, that is not always how we feel in our experience. There are numerous instances in life when it seems we are not given what we ask for.

The Lord Jesus knows our query, and has taught us the truth about prayer from another perspective: "Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?" (Matthew 7:9-10) Why did Jesus use the everyday object of food to explain His point? It is because food in those days was hard to get. Various issues of structural injustice in society had surfaced during the rule of the colonial regime of the Roman Empire. Taking the villages of Galilee as an example, people worked hard in the fields but did not get enough to eat because the surrounding big cities drew all the food from places like Galilee, resulting in social struggles in which the strong got food but the weak did not. Did prayer work for them?

Obviously, that is the social context for "our daily bread" in the Lord's Prayer. When man cannot earn a living, it will be hard for them to bear with the shortage of daily necessities, resulting in involvement in various "evils". But Jesus time and again teaches us in the Sermon on the Mount:

The times may be rough, but do not crave for material prosperity;
The times may be rough, still you must see yourself honestly; never blindly criticize;
The times may be rough, still you should lay aside hatred and strive for reconciliation;
The times may be rough, but love your enemy; do not repay violence with violence;
The times may be rough, but you should still devote your life to seeking the will of God. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.

Understandably, it is difficult to practice the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount in bad times. But the words of the Lord Jesus are not finished: "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11)

Didn't Jesus experience the evils in real life just as we do? Did His prayer work? It did. As such, He taught us that the important thing about prayer is not how to pray correctly so that the prayer works. The important thing is whom you pray to – our Heavenly Father. Because He is who He is, our prayer becomes useful. If we know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will our Father in heaven give good gifts to those who pray? Pray a simple prayer. Pray directly to God. The Heavenly Father will respond. He will take our prayers seriously.

Now, back to today's reality, we as citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom need to live out the Sermon on the Mount in hard times. It is not easy at all. But the words of the Lord Jesus ring clear: Ask, seek, knock and you will get a response.

Therefore, we need to pray. Pray for the power and wisdom that we need today – because we have a Father in heaven.