Tag Archives: prayer

Asking is Good Policy

Story of the Day for Monday July 16, 2012 

Asking is Good Policy

 

                    Ask, and it will be given to you. seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you.

                                                             Matthew 7:7

 

Our family was bone weary from driving across the plains. We found a cheesy hotel and asked if they had a nonsmoking room. They assured us they did.

When we entered our room it reeked of cigarette smoke. But, to make things far worse, it smelled like someone had just emptied an aerosol can of heavily-perfumed air freshener in the room.

We soon discovered that it was, indeed, a nonsmoking room because all the ash trays had been turned upside down.

But I’m the meek sort and didn’t go back to the hotel clerk to sort the matter out.

 

I found an article by Tim Gard, in the book, Humor Me, especially intriguing. Tim is on the road a lot and stays in hotels 200 days a year. He always makes reservations for a non-smoking room.

Yet, often, as he straggles into a hotel late at night, they have given away his non-smoking room.  When this happens, Tim asks for a free upgrade to a nonsmoking suite.

Normally, the hotel clerk tells him, “Our policy doesn’t allow upgrades based on smoking preference.”

To counter this, Tim wrote his own policy book. When he meets with objections, he pulls out his official-looking policy manual, finds the specific policy he needs, and then reads it to the hotel clerk: “If Tim Gard requests and reserves a nonsmoking room at any hotel and that hotel gives his nonsmoking room away prior to his arrival, then that hotel is required, by law, to provide Tim Gard with an upgrade to a nonsmoker suite at no additional cost.”

“It’s my policy,” he tells the clerk,

“Well, that’s not our policy. You need to talk to the manager.”

“Unfortunately,” Tim responds, “my number one policy is: I don’t repeat my policies. Once I’ve said the policy, I’m forbidden to talk about it any more. I’d like to help you, but . . . it’s a policy.”

“Sir, it’s not our policy.”

Tim then demands to be shown the hotel’s policy manual. When they, invariably, fail to produce a manual, he tells them flatly that they’re going to have to go with his.

Tim usually gets upgraded to a suite at no extra charge. Even when he doesn’t, he claims he has a fun time.

 

Just as I’m afraid to ask for nonsmoking room upgrades, I’m reluctant to ask God for many of the things I desire. Well, it looks like I’m going to have to be bolder. Jesus tells me to ask, to search, to pound on doors.

Franklyn Broude said, “You don’t always get what you ask for, but you never get what you don’t ask for . . . unless it’s contagious!”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Sharing a Mutual Love for Potato Chips

Story of the Day for Wednesday March 21, 2012

Sharing a Mutual Love for Potato Chips

               The head priests and the Bible scholars saw the wonders Jesus did and the children shouting in the temple, saying, ”Hosanna to the Son of David!” And they were indignant.  

                                                              Matthew 21:15

Alina, one of my wife’s former students is now grown up, married, and has two little girls. Last week, her daughter said a bedtime prayer for her Mommy and Daddy, sister, cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. And then she added, “And God, please be with all the potatoes because I know you and me just LOVE potato chips!”

I’d like to casually toss out the fact that I’m a Bible scholar. If you’re confused about the soteriological implications of proleptic eschatology, I’m your man. And, excuse me while I politely cough, but I also (ahem) . . . read the New Testament in the Greek!  Yes.

We Bible scholars tend to wince at the prayers and praises of children. They don’t know what they’re talking about. When we scholars compose a prayer, it’s carefully sculpted to reflect a theologically precise view of God. The grammar is impeccable and nuanced. You will never – and I repeat myself for emphasis – you will never find us composing prayers which go romping on about our delight with potato chips.

Yet, ironically, the Bible scholars of Jesus’ day, for all their knowledge of Scripture, couldn’t recognize God if he was standing right in front of them. They knew a lot about God, but they didn’t know him.

The kids, on the other hand, shattered the solemnity with their boisterous praise to the Son of David. When the theologians objected to this, Jesus defended the kids and pointed to the Psalm which said, “From the mouths of children and nursing infants I have prepared praise.” Jesus liked their worship.

The beauty of a child’s understanding of God is that it is a relationship.

Yes, it’s important to have correct theology, but not at the expense of knowing God personally. I can easily find myself viewing the Trinity, say, more as a complex mathematical formula than the God who protects me, and loves me, and gives me strength.

Once, when our daughter, Erika, was little she asked for something and we told her we couldn’t buy it because we couldn’t afford it. Later that evening, she came into my office and gave me a dollar to bail us out of our fiscal crisis.

I wasn’t offended at my little daughter’s unsophisticated view of finances nor did I hand the dollar back to her in disgust at her ignorance. Instead, I was deeply touched by her thoughtfulness and generosity.

I have a little box on my dresser. And, every now and then, I open it and look at the dollar she gave me.

In the end, it’s all about relationship . . . like sharing a mutual love for potato chips.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Pay A Compliment to God

Story of the Day for Saturday January 28, 2012

Pay a Compliment to God

              Let us boldly approach the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find gracious help in our time of need. 

                                                      Hebrews 4:16

 

In the 1960s the Hewlett-Packard company was known world-wide for its innovation in electronics.

One night one of the company founders, Bill Hewlett, got a phone call at his home in Palo Alto. An 8th grader was working on a school project and asked Mr. Hewlett if he could have some spare parts to build a frequency counter.

Bill Hewlett not only talked to this young man for twenty minutes, but personally gathered the requested parts. And to top it off, he offered the student a summer job working in the Hewlett-Packard department that assembled frequency counters.

That student, who had the audacity to phone one of the titans of the electronics industry, was Steve Jobs — one of the founders of Apple computers. Jobs often reflected on that day when he called the legendary Bill Hewlett. Steve Jobs was obviously brilliant, but prefers to attribute his astonishing success to his boldness in asking others for what he needed. Most people, he observed, would never pick up the phone.

 

To make requests of famous and influential people seems presumptuous. Who do we think we are, anyway? Most of us feel unworthy to ask things of great people. And we have it exactly right: we are unworthy.

But focusing on who we are misses the point. The question is not whether we deserve the attention of influential people, but whether those influential people are willing to give us of their time.

This issue of unworthiness can seep into our attitude about prayer. Have you ever failed to ask God for great things because you felt you didn’t deserve to make such an audacious request of the almighty God?

If we only ask the Lord for the things we deserve, we will ask him for nothing.

 

But all this misses the point of prayer. God invites us to boldly ask for the moon. Our prayers should never be based on our worthiness, but on God’s wild generosity.

 

In the sixteenth century, Sir Walter Raleigh was a frequent visitor in the Royal Court of England. He made numerous requests to Queen Elizabeth.

Once, after approaching her Majesty with yet one more request — this one on behalf of a friend — the Queen sighed in exasperation.

“When, Sir Walter, will you cease to be a beggar?”

Raleigh quickly replied, “When your gracious Majesty ceases to be a benefactor.”

 

St. Theresa of Avila had it right when she said, “You pay God a compliment by asking great things of him.”

                                                   (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

On Grammar, Eloquence, and Thematic Cohesion

Story of the Day for Tuesday January 10, 2012

On Grammar, Eloquence, and Thematic Cohesion

                  We don’t know what we ought to be praying about, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us . . . And he who searches hearts knows the thoughts of the Spirit.

                                                                                             Romans 8:26-27

The Reverend William Archibald Spooner was both a kindly Anglican priest and a brilliant professor at New College, Oxford. But, he achieved fame through his slips of the tongue.

Once, he delivered a sermon to the students and sat down. Apparently someone whispered something to him because he walked back up to the pulpit and announced, “In the sermon I just preached, whenever I said Aristotle, I meant St. Paul.”

Dr. Spooner’s superb scholarship, sadly, has been overshadowed by his tendency to scramble words. Through his unintentional efforts, the term “Spoonerism” has worked its way into our present dictionaries. For example, he called the “rate of wages” the “weight of rages,” and “conquering kings,” “kinkering congs.”

Soon, this tendency was noticed by the students, and they waited eagerly for his next slip of the tongue. At the height of his notoriety, Spooner lamented, “You don’t want to hear a speech; you just want me to say one of those . . . things.” Don Hauptman, in his book, Cruel and Unusual Puns, says “the craze spread like filed wire – er, wildfire.”

The enthusiasm to record the latest Spoonerism soon made it difficult to separate his original sayings from those attributed to him.

The professor, it is said, proposed a toast to Her Royal Highness, Queen Victoria: “Three cheers for our queer old dean.” At a naval review he is said to have praised “this vast display of cattle ships and bruisers.” Officiating at a wedding, he concluded by informing the groom, “It is kisstomary to cuss the bride.”

 

Once the kindly reverend showed us the way, everyone wanted to get in on the act. Radio announcer, Harry Von Zell, gave tribute to the president of the United States by addressing him as “Hoobert Heever.” This only inspired Lowell Thomas to introduce the British minister, Sir Stafford Cripps as “Sir Stifford Crapps.” The British then solidified the eminence of their native son, the Rev. Spooner, when an announcer proclaimed the military would give their honored royal guest a “twenty-one son galoo.”

 

With all this glorious imperfection surrounding us, it still baffles me that some are reluctant to pray publicly because they don’t think they’ll say the right words – as if God is going to grade them on grammar, eloquence, and thematic cohesion.

But, our situation is far worse than not knowing the right words; most of the time we don’t even know the right topic. Let’s face it: we’re not all that great at informing the Creator of All Things about the best way to run the universe.

Nevertheless, the Lord tells us he wants us to pray and he is ready to listen. And, even when, in our pain and confusion, we can only look to heaven and moan, God assures us the Spirit can interpret our hearts, and send our prayers on their way . . . despite our garbled thoughts and tips of the slung.

                                            (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Asking is Good Policy

Story of the Day for Wednesday August 31, 2011

Asking is Good Policy

                     Ask, and it will be given to you. seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. 

                                               Matthew 7:7

 Our family was bone weary from driving across the plains. We found a cheesy hotel and asked if they had a nonsmoking room. They assured us they did.

When we entered our room it reeked of cigarette smoke. But, to make things far worse, it smelled like someone had just emptied an aerosol can of heavily-perfumed air freshener in the room.

We soon discovered that it was, indeed, a nonsmoking room because all the ash trays had been turned upside down.

But I’m the meek sort and didn’t go back to the hotel clerk to sort the matter out.

 

I found an article by Tim Gard, in the book, Humor Me, especially intriguing. Tim is on the road a lot and stays in hotels 200 days a year. He always makes reservations for a non-smoking room.

Yet, often, as he straggles into a hotel late at night, they have given away his non-smoking room.  When this happens, Tim asks for a free upgrade to a nonsmoking suite.

Normally, the hotel clerk tells him, “Our policy doesn’t allow upgrades based on smoking preference.”

To counter this, Tim wrote his own policy book. When he meets with objections, he pulls out his official-looking policy manual, finds the specific policy he needs, and then reads it to the hotel clerk: “If Tim Gard requests and reserves a nonsmoking room at any hotel and that hotel gives his nonsmoking room away prior to his arrival, then that hotel is required, by law, to provide Tim Gard with an upgrade to a nonsmoker suite at no additional cost.”

“It’s my policy,” he tells the clerk,

“Well, that’s not our policy. You need to talk to the manager.”

“Unfortunately,” Tim responds, “my number one policy is: I don’t repeat my policies. Once I’ve said the policy, I’m forbidden to talk about it any more. I’d like to help you, but . . . it’s a policy.”

“Sir, it’s not our policy.”

Tim then demands to be shown the hotel’s policy manual. When they, invariably, fail to produce a manual, he tells them flatly that they’re going to have to go with his.

Tim usually gets upgraded to a suite at no extra charge. Even when he doesn’t, he claims he has a fun time.

 

Just as I’m afraid to ask for nonsmoking room upgrades, I’m reluctant to ask God for many of the things I desire. Well, it looks like I’m going to have to be bolder. Jesus tells me to ask, to search, to pound on doors.

Franklyn Broude said, “You don’t always get what you ask for, but you never get what you don’t ask for . . . unless it’s contagious!”

                                      (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)