"Abracadabra!" Many of us played with this phrase as kids. It was "hocus-pocus," making no sense to us. We'd wave an invisible wand in the air, fantasizing that there was a real fairy-godmother or magic spells to produce our wishes. We were just playing, after all.
Mature Christians should have left those incantations and beliefs in "presto-chango! because-I-say-so" behind, in childhood. Instead, some of us drag them into our life of faith. We demand that our God show up (as though he is not already present), listen to us (as though he were unusually deaf), and fulfill our demands. Sometimes we even bring finite, foot-stomping tantrums before our Heavenly Father, based on our reading into his revelation in Scripture.
"You promised to heal! I'm/he's/she's/they're sick. Right now, in the name of Jesus..." Instead of acting with trust in God's absolute provisions and absolute goodness, instead of believing he does what is best in light of his power and ability, we begin to chant a formula.
"Whatever you ask in my name," said Jesus... except that there's more to the phrase than speech, because he said this to his intimate circle of followers.
Therefore, when we pray in his name, we give him the right to ask us, "How are you living as my disciple?"
Are we completely under his direction? How closely do we follow his footsteps? How willing are we to travel the hard road to crucifixion of our own desires and wants, so that our requests are the same Jesus would make to our Father in heaven?
Every walk with God is unique. His promises apply to each of his children. Like a wise Father, the Lord of all knows how to love us and still fulfill his purposes.
If there were a magic phrase or three-turn trick, I would have learned it. Our daughter would be healed. My doctorate would write itself. There would be no challenges or sicknesses to overcome. Weirdly, the planet would be crammed with ancient people, living on and on in perfect health!
Many walk away from Christianity, disappointed because the promised magic didn't happen. The boss puts a pink slip on our desk when the company downsizes. We struggle to forgive abuse or neglect. Children disobey, run away, or die of cancer. The house burns to ashes in spite of frantic pleas, "Oh God, help!" Humanity lives under the brokenness and shadows that will only, finally, be removed and redeemed in the timing and scope of God's plan for the universe.
I want to set my heart to hear his voice, pray his will, and delight myself in the paths he on which he leads. No more wishing and hoping, positive affirmations and dreaming, as though our efforts defined faith. Rather, today, join me in prayerful submission. Impassioned requests coupled with gratitude for his care.
Let's choose W's theology class definition of faith = "Trusting Obedience." Such a life of faith is harder. Steeper. More mysterious. This is the faith that moves mountains and sees them tumble into the seas.
*But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15 NIV
*Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. 1 Chronicles 4:10 NIV
*When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 NIV