Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For every one who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.
Or what one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?
If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your Father in the Spiritual Realm give good things to those who ask him?
There is a great deal to be said about this; but this time I want to revert to the way we used to handle passages on this (kwakerskripturestudy.blogspot.com ) site: Somebody posts the passage; then people respond with comments.
What is so problematic about this utterly simple and cogent passage? -- Why do the seemingly obvious conclusions people are likely to draw go off track and make most of us wrongly dismiss what Jesus is saying here?
And how, in practice, should we understand this?
Hello Forrest. I apologize if my response to Adria distracted from the intent of this thread. I should have made my comments to Adria outside of this context.
I hope this personal story is more to the point. A long story short.
There was a time in my life when I was one of those people you see sleeping under highway bridges. In those times, it was the inward Light of Christ that gave me strength when my body had little physical sustenance. I those moments, I did not directly pray for anything. It was and is not necessary because God was and is right there, I often weeped with gratitude and thankfulness; for that Presence sustained and quenched during the very moments of great need and want. Forrest, that Life is so precious!
Keith, your experience of this is what it is, whether we resonate with your way of saying it or not --and that wasn't the problem.
What bothered me about the discussion as a whole was how readily it devolved (myself not necessarily excluded) away from what I want to know, towards mutual fault-finding and defensiveness.
Doesn't it seem, even knowing that many of us do have times approaching what you describe -- That there ought to be more, and stronger, examples of the gift of healing among us? That the lives of people around us don't seem as much like the Kingdom of God as we'd like?
Last night I was thinking that I do have what I really want and need, a good woman I can love who can even put up with me! But some things still, as the Zen teacher put it, could use a little improvement.
Richard Foster, in either his book Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home or the chapter on prayer in Celebration of Discipline, said that intercessory prayer is a natural response to loving people and wanting them to have things that it is not in our power to give them. So, praying for the lives of Copts in the Middle East or for wisdom for the president or for safety for a child we see in passing and wonder if she is being abused - those are all expressions of love. That makes total sense to me.
I also think that you're right, Forrest - we should be seeing way more miracles and healings and other manifestations of God's power if we are living in his spirit. One nice thing about intercessory prayer is that it gives us the opportunity to see God's answering of prayer in concrete fashion. Early Friends had that experience regularly and it helped confirm them in their faith and witness. I want to experience more of that life and power!
I have had prayers answered by simply thinking yes to a prayer/thought that came to me unsolicited. One time was hardly noticeable. I was aroused from a sound sleep, acquiesced in the suggestion and was back asleep instantly. When I awoke hours later I heard that the matter had come to pass.
The lack of observable physical healings in answer to prayer drives me crazy. But I'll keep praying.
Ah, I wondered why you deleted the other comment...? It seemed to hint at one reason we don't get automatic physical healings: that sometimes the healee still needs the condition to continue, to achieve whatever goal God is using it for.
Many people known for their successful prayers have said that sometimes they would have unexpected trouble praying for a particular person, and would realize that they hadn't been given jurisdiction in this case.
Jesus didn't seem to have that problem. Does that mean that we shouldn't? -- Or was it simply that his healings were a byproduct of him actually fulfilling the purposes of the conditions he healed?
I just "tuned in" to this thread. The dialogue is good!
In my life, I have seen at least one seemingly miraculous healing (or dramatic change for the better), in my mother's health. Paradoxically, it involved a Quaker couple who made no profession of Christian faith, or even belief in God. "God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform!"
Forest: Jesus did have that problem in his home town. In my past I heard "disbelief" used so many times for lack of healing that I am very, very reluctant to use it as an excuse. In reflecting this last day I think there is so much sensory overload in modern culture that faith which comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God can't get from the soul to the body. Even in meeting for worship many people can't block out their concerns for the world's condition (a genuine problem, but an intellectual quagmire), family problems, doctor appointments, etc.
To this point I must add that I do much better praying for my pets than people.
Christians (and Moslems too, it seems) tend to see lack of belief as some kind of personal failing; I remember a statement from a guy in a wheelchair about how he loved Jesus, but when he'd run into some Capital "CHRISTIANS" he'd feel like they were blaming him for not just getting out of his wheelchair and dancing when they'd throw the J word at him!
But if we're being diagnostic here, yeah, lack of faith seems to block miraculous events... because, I think, people seem to feel 'better' --
even suffering terribly --
in the belief that we 'understand' what's going on --
rather than realizing that 'with God, anything really is possible.' (And God is, after all, merciful, even though that mercy seems peculiar in the way it interacts with that kind of blockage!!!)
Here is a link to a piece Micah Bales published this morning about speaking in tongues. Healing, speaking in tongues, miracles and other supernatural expressions of God's power challenge us to lay down our sense that we are "on top of things" even if we can't control them. If we can't give that up, we never will see what God can do. (By the way, I hope you will comment on Micah's piece. I'm curious about folks' perspectives!)