Sometimes, children struggle to communicate with adults.
In a similar way, we adults struggle to communicate with God.
No matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to get our point across:
We ask God for a raise at work, but get laid off instead.
We ask God to help us pass an exam, but we end up failing the course.
We ask God to take away our loneliness only to find ourselves spending each evening on Facebook and drinking too many glasses of wine, or watching ESPN and drinking too many cans of beer.
So, with this in mind, let’s revisit the gospel passage:
If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit
to those who ask him?
Now, let’s be honest.
After being told to “ask and you shall receive,”
this conclusion is not what we expect, is it?
This is not how we want the passage to end.
Who said anything about the Holy Spirit??
That’s not what I’m asking for!
And, if I don’t get what I want, I’ll throw a tantrum!
But, if we can simmer down a moment,
we might discover what Jesus is trying to tell us:
He is telling us that there is something more in play
than that for which we pray.
In other words, authentic prayer is more than a one-time asking.
It is an on-going trusting.
Think of it this way:
the deepest prayer of all
isn’t a child crying, “Gimme, gimme, gimme.”
It is a child crying, “Hold me! Hold me! Hold me!”
A number of years ago, my niece gave birth to twins.
They arrived early and were very small.
To help them survive this vulnerable time,
the doctors prescribed something called “Skin Time”
which means holding a naked newborn
against the warm and naked skin of the parents.
So, very soon, pictures of those tiny twins
up against the naked bellies of their mother and father
were e-mailed to relatives all across the country!
(My family has no shame!)
When I saw those tender pictures,
I caught a glimpse of the sacred bond
between God and the vulnerable children of God:
Heart to Heart.
Spirit to Spirit.
Skin on Skin.
Is this not the heart of every prayer?
The true essence of true prayer is not,
“Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!”
Rather, it is “Hold me! Hold me! Hold me!”
Hold me close, Lord!
Heart to heart!
Skin on skin!
➢ like the “skin on skin” prayer of every parent
who has ever held a helpless child
➢ like the “skin on skin” prayer of every soldier
who has ever carried a wounded comrade out of the line of fire.
➢ like the “skin-on-skin” prayer of every life guard
who has ever dove into the water to save a swimmer
gasping for breath.
When you, yourself, dive this deep into prayer,
you’re not asking your heavenly Father for a fish,
you’re not asking for an egg.
You are asking to be rescued.
You are asking for Love,
a Love that will carry you
though the darkest night
and the darkest despair.
A Love to carry you home to Heaven.
Heart to heart.
Skin on skin.