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