We are driven to satisfy our own needs and desires. That’s what is on our minds when we begin praying. But that is not what God advises us to do when we approach Him. Exodus 23:15: ‘No one will appear before me empty-handed.’ Oops! We came to get, not give. Psalms 100:4 says, ‘Come within his gates giving thanks, to his courts singing praise, give thanks to him and bless his name! Twice in this one verse it says “Give”. Once it says “Bless”.
But what about what I want from Him? We’ll get to that. Right now we are finding out how to get started.When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, notice what we taught first. We worship. “Hallowed by thy name.’ That isn’t asking for something for ourselves. He continued, ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.’ Again, it is about what God wants, not what we want. Then only do we say, ‘Give us this day our daily bread. The Lord’s prayer also ends with glorifying God (worship): ‘For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever. With this prayer we are not coming to God empty handed. There is not anything we can give God except praise and thanksgiving. He owns everything else and everything we have He gave us. But we can worship Him.
Note also the construction of the Tabernacle and Temple in the Old Testament. As the Most Holy Place was the presence of God, there was an established order for entering His presence there. Before entering the Holy Place, the priest had to offer a sacrifice on the altar. He brought the blood of that sacrifice to sprinkle on the mercy seat. At that point God would grant expiation for sin. The priest didn’t come empty-handed nor should we. Worship involves sacrifice. God especially likes it when we cheerfully set aside what we want for a while just to honor Him.
God asked Solomon what he wanted God to give him. God commended Solomon for not asking for wealth or revenge on his enemies. Solomon asked for wisdom to guide Israel. That prayer was for the benefit of others and for God. Then God said to Solomon, ‘Because you did not ask for wealth, I will give you wealth like no king has ever had nor shall have. This describes just what Jesus said to His disciples (and to us all): Seek first the kingdom of God and his uprightness and all of these things will be added to you.’ It’s the Kingdom of God first, then the ‘things’ we want and need.
Meekness is a sacrificial behavior that leads to inheriting the earth. When we face daunting trials and don’t know where to turn, He is waiting. But when we come, let’s thank Him for the trial and praise his hallowed name. We won’t feel like doing that which is why it is a sacrifice. We haven’t come empty-handed. He isn’t Santa Claus in the Sky. He is God almighty and everlasting. He is the God who sacrificed for us without us asking. Let’s put aside what we want when we come to Him. Give thanks and praise and the right time will come to express our needs and wants. He’ll be listening. We give before we get.
Jude Hodges, Grand Knight
Joe Cox, Membership Director