Recently one morning, when I was finished praying, I heard the Lord speak. Well…he didn’t actually speak in an audible voice, but I clearly “heard” him as I considered who he really was. When I opened my eyes, it was as if he said, “That’s it? That’s all you’re asking? I’m the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and that’s all you’re going to ask?” I was convicted.
It reminded me of the day that I went trembling to my dad to make a request. I was old enough to be on my own, but young enough to make stupid mistakes (not sure if I’ve ever outgrown that). I was in between jobs and ashamed of it. My credit card bill was large and due. I was terrified that I would start getting scary phone calls or someone would come after me. So, as a last resort, I decided to ask my dad for money.
I hated that I had become that kid. As I sat down in the living room of my parents’ house, I could barely make eye contact with him. I was so ashamed. I swallowed hard to keep from crying and said, “Dad, I need to borrow some money.” He could tell from my trembling voice how hard it was to ask. He moved closer and sat down next to me. He gently said, “Susan, how much money do you need? $1000? $10,000? $100,000?”
The growing lump in my throat disappeared.
“Dad, I need $127.” Tears took over. The paralyzing request that had pulverized my soul for weeks was nothing but pocket-change to my father who loved me.
We pray like that, though, don’t we? We come trembling and terrified, knowing that we don’t deserve anything (and, frankly, we don’t deserve anything, on our own merit, anyway). We give God all of the excuses of why he doesn’t have to answer our prayers. And, when we finally work up the courage to actually ask for something, it’s tiny. I wonder how often my fearful and small requests get in the way of my Father’s desire to provide for all of my needs according to his riches in glory (Phil 4:19).
So that morning, my heart needed to consider the powerful love of God and remember what happened when my dad and I had a conversation about my irreconcilable debt. And, as God opened my eyes to who he is, I learned some important truths about his love for me and my subsequent prayers to him.
First, I learned afresh that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), and that includes me. You see, when I asked my dad to bail me out of my debt, he could have easily said no. He could have justifiably responded in this way: “My dear, you know that in life we make choices and those choices have consequences. Your debt is your consequence to bear.” Those words are completely true. Yet, like Christ secured mercy for us that extends beyond justice, my father went beyond what was just to extend mercy to his hurting, needy child.
Beyond that, I realized that day there was something very small about my prayers. When I approached my dad to ask him for money, I knew he was abundantly able to provide $127, yet I was afraid to ask. I was embarrassed that I wasn’t a better child. Maybe I only wanted to ask my dad for the big stuff. Maybe I was afraid because I knew that I was broke. I couldn’t pay $127. I was desperate. The reason I needed money was because of the mistakes I had made. I was ashamed of all of it. However, my dad’s words soothed my fears and helped me see the bigger picture.
On that morning the Lord reminded me of this $127 story. Just like with my dad that day, shame should never prevent me from asking for things…even big things that I don’t deserve. I don’t deserve a lot of things, but it seems to please the Lord to give them, anyway (Matt. 7:11).
That day I learned the worries of this world that frighten me are magnified by my shame, but those same worries are small and always answer to the Mighty, Sovereign Lord. What would it look like if I actually believed that, in Christ, the Lord was both pleased with me and ready and willing to do far more abundantly than I could ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20)? I’m not starting a name it and claim it prayer group, or maybe I am. Maybe I will start asking for kingdom things. Maybe kingdom prayers are the prayers the Father wants me to name and claim. Maybe I’ll name it and claim it that in Christ, I will walk in the confidence and surety that I am a child of the Father. Maybe I’ll name it and claim it that the Lord intends to use his children (even me!) to extend his kingdom. Maybe I’ll name it and claim it that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. The truth is: our Father can move mountains. The grace that he has lavished upon us gives me confidence to approach the throne. Shame, fear and lack of faith shouldn’t stop me.
I hope that the next time I’m about to offer a $127 prayer, I’ll do it knowing that I’m talking to my Father who loves me and wants me to be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19).
Sue Harris serves the congregation at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church (Birmingham) as the Women’s Ministry Director. She has a passion for spiritual formation as she earned her Master of Arts degree in Biblical Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta in 2014. She served Mission to the World for nine years challenging PCA congregations in missions as well as serving missionaries on the field through encouragement, teaching and short-term teams. Previously, she spent 12 years as a college women’s basketball coach, earning her MBA at Texas Woman’s University.