Sunday, May 31, 2009

Praising Or Pleading?

I really resonate with the prayers of my children. They're so much better at praising God than pleading with God. So much so that at dinner time if I'm really hungry, I just do the prayer myself because who knows how long Josh or Lydia will go before they're done praising God for spaghetti, for making clouds, for doggie shampoo, for passing his 12's times tables [they can go on and on and on]. But recently I learned something else about prayer as praise. The authors of Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus [a great little book I recommend reading this summer. Click pic for more info] point out Jesus was using a classic rabbinic technique in Matthew 21:16 by quoting part of a verse and leaving the rest unsaid.

The verse he was quoting came from Psalm 8:2 which says, "From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise." And that sounds wonderful and encouraging when we hear our kids [or anyone's for that matter] praising God. Their sincere prayers and praise can and should bring a smile to our lips. But that's not the primary way Jesus was using this verse. Because the people hearing him would have known what the rest of Psalm 8:2 says: "Because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger."

In other words, the prayers of children are precious. And can teach us much about what it means to praise God. But the prayers of those children were also a stern rebuke to the Pharisees who knew the rest of Psalm 8:2. And maybe they're a rebuke to us as well when we continue to approach God in a "Coke machine" kind of way, pleading with him to answer our prayers the way we want them to be answered instead of praying like Jesus did in Gethsemane, "Let this cup pass from me, but if not, your will be done." For what do your kids or grandkid praise God? What do you?

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