My six year old asked me for another biscuit at breakfast this morning. Not the British kind of biscuit, but a fluffy, buttery, American biscuit smeared with blackberry jelly. I happily gave it to him. And I took one for myself. We ate biscuits. But it made me wonder, as I’ve been thinking lately about my attitude toward God, What if…?
Can you imagine what would happen if I met his request with something utterly un-biscuity? What if I gave him a rock or a stick. Or a plate teeming with spiders. Can you imagine his reaction if I slid a clutter of hairy, plated spiders across the breakfast table. He would fly out of his seat, screaming. He would look on me like a lunatic. What in the world, Dad! Have you lost your mind? MOOOOM!!
In order to teach His disciples about the goodness of His Father, Jesus presented this scenario.
What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! — Matthew 7:9-11
Jesus makes the point: His Father’s goodness is dependable. Because He loves His children, they can expect good gifts in response to their prayers. The fallen fathers of this broken world know how to give good gifts to their children. When my son asks for a biscuit, even I delight to give him a biscuit. “How much more,” says the Lord, “will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”
While Jesus’ point is abundantly obvious and wonderfully true, it also points to an odd perversion in our hearts. Why would Jesus need to teach us that? If it’s so obvious, even by looking at evil dads in the world, why would Jesus make a point to teach them to infuse their prayers with anticipation? Answer: We expect spiders when we ask God for biscuits.
For all the right reasons, when my son asks for a biscuit, he doesn’t anticipate a spider. He knows I love him. He knows I know he loves biscuits. He knows I hate spiders. So when he asks for that flaky, butter-and-jellied biscuit, he rolls up his sleeves and licks his little chops.
Be honest. You and I are often unlike my son in this way. We ask God for something good and when His heavenly fingers unfurl, we brace ourselves for the curse; a rock…a stick…a hand full of spiders. If not a curse, we cock our heads and anticipate receiving a cruel, empty palm. It says something important about us, about our view of God. It points to one of the sinister ways sin has darkened us. We disbelieve His objective, proven goodness.
Our belief in His utter goodness is proven or betrayed when we pray. We need the objective truth of God’s goodness to sink into our prayers. Jesus’ confidence in the Father’s love must become our confidence in the Father’s love. The God who loved us from before the foundations of the world (Eph 1:4), and loved us despite ourselves (Rom 5:8), and loved us by giving His own Son (John 3:16) — He has left us no reason whatsoever to brace for spiders.
Today, we should start infusing our prayers with a cheerful expectation that our Father who is in heaven gives what is good to those who ask Him! And when His hand opens—whatever He gives—we with confidence can be sure it is a good gift. It’s not a spider.