WE CAN ANSWER OUR OWN PRAYERS
We pray, far too often, when we want God to do what we should be doing, that is answering our own prayers. Of course, there are needs that God only can do and answer, but there are many more that we can and should answer. No doubt, God has answers for us, but are we prepared to accept them? God, too, needs our cooperation. Prayer is not merely asking for something; it is also a commitment to a need or a problem that requires our input. In a real sense, we have to give to God something to work with. We must become partners with each other and with God. Let us consider some examples.
A father prayed repeatedly, “Dear Lord, help the needy.” His son grew tired of listening to the same request at almost every meal and said, “Dad, why don’t you answer your own prayers? You have two barns full of corn.” It is similar to Jesus’ parable on the “Rich Fool” and his barns (Luke 12:13-21). This is also related to the “Rich man and poor and sick Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31). The truth is that no one wants to part with what one has acquired. It is also true that we want others to answer our prayers. It is for that reason that something ought to be said in defense of those that are reluctant to share their acquisitions.
First and foremost, we must do something for and with our prayers. If we are in need, we should ask, seek and knock. If we are able to help, we should do what we can. I learned a similar lesson from my physician. To lower my blood pressure, I had to follow her direction and prescription. Her point was, “If you want to get well, you have to give me a hand.” I had to answer my own prayers. You may say, “But I am helpless.” You are telling it to the wrong person. I was completely helpless and hospitalized for 18 months, but I did something for and with my prayers. It took me nine years to get back into society and become productive. I had much help, but I had to do all the work. I could have applied easily for public assistance and have taxpayers answer my prayers.
In the sixties, I was a pastor in New York City. In the Bronx, on a busy corner, I saw a beggar sitting on the sidewalk. I visited one of my parishioners that lived in the vicinity. I asked her what had happened to the beggar. She told me that he died and they found one half of a million under his mattress. Why work, when others can answer our prayers? Why build barns, when we have pockets that others can fill? The point here is that the beggar answered his own prayers. While others worked for a living, he begged for his. Rain or shine, he was out there answering his prayer for himself. That was before the great President Johnson became the generous benefactor for beggars. How could he have anticipated that he opened a door for professional beggars? They are close to outnumbering those that work.
The poor are not the only ones that have found an easy answer to their prayers. We have a middle class that has become very skillful in answering their prayers. They have become a brotherhood that works for the public and robs the public to enhance their wages. They want to be compared with doctors and lawyers that spend years in schools to qualify. Can we imagine that a member in the brotherhood (union) that leans on a shovel earns more than an attorney? We have no children in public schools, but we are four families that pay over $30,000 in real estate taxes to the government and schools. Just think we can almost pay for two people that work at Wall-Mart, but for one third of a person that is in the brotherhood. At the rate this group is growing, and with the help of the government, we too will soon be begging. Only fewer people shall be able to give us a dollar that is worth ten cents. Who then will answer our prayers?
I am not too happy being pessimistic. The “Rich Man” that let Lazarus die did not pay he bills, neither do the very wealthy in this country. The “Fool,” with the big barns, lost it to the government. On our way to one of our sons, we pass a place that was taken over by the IRS. They are asking 2 ¼ million for the place. Who do you think is paying the taxes? It has been sitting there for several years. Recently, to no one’s surprise, a private horse racing organization is renting it. Millions, in our country, are facing a similar fate because far too many depend on others to answer their prayers. God has no need to take from Peter to pay Paul, that genius aspect is man’s answer to prayer. “I will feed you if you saw that wood,” said the lady. “You will see me see it, but not saw it,” replied the hobo. Neither prayer was answered.