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March 20, 2017

Lent 2017: Day Nineteen

Week Three: Mission Field

Reflection for the Week: What encourages me to engage more fully in the mission field?

There is a danger in reading the bible looking for what we want to hear. At first glance this passage seems to promise that we can pray to God and God will hear us and grant our prayers. This seems like the logical interpretation of the relationship between a loving God and a faithful servant. Many people clearly believe that if you just pray to God with enough faithfulness, God will answer your prayer. So what do we do when one person faithfully prays for his child to be cured of leukemia and it doesn’t happen while another prays for her mother to survive breast cancer and it does? Was one more faithful than the other? No.

You have to slow down and read every part of this message. First we must be thankful that we have the gift of prayer as a way to approach God personally. This is a blessing in and of itself. Second, embedded in the heart of this text is the phrase, “. . . according to his will . . .” This is where the trouble comes, because God’s will is a mystery of unfathomable depth.

We may not know God’s will completely, but we do know it to some extent. We know God wills goodness, kindness and mercy. To pray for these things is certainly in line with God’s will. We know that God is not greedy or cruel, and to pray selfishly or vengefully will certainly fall on deaf ears, but what about the gray areas?

To return to the illustration of prayers for healing above, I believe that God wills life and health for all. I also believe that God wills our earthly life to be temporary and to end some day. There are a million ways this can happen — some of our own doing like accidents or acts of violence and others by natural causes of old age, and yes, disease. I also believe that God wants us to learn how to preserve and make life the best it can be. This is why we teach peace and forgiveness and why we continue cancer research. Unfortunately, socially and medically we still have much to learn to bring peace and healing to all. Much has been done, but more needs to be done if every prayer for healing is to receive the desired result.

Continue to pray for others, continue to pray for peace, and continue to pray for a cure. It is God’s will.

Prayer: Lord, I pray for the peace and assurance of faith that your will is being done. Amen.

Rev. John Farley
Dean of Cabinet
California-Pacific Conference