But: It’s a powerful word. It has the ability to change a negative into a positive and a problem into a solution and a false perception into reality.
The supermarket was busy and humming with activity. Shelves being packed, the new stock being brought forth from the storeroom, sell-by dated food items removed; just a normal shopping experience.
That came to an abrupt end as a shrill and outraged wail cascaded from a little girl into the ears of the entire store. Eyes, brimming with tears, feet stomping, nostrils flaring and face red with rage, the wailing cascaded through the airwaves at a very high volume. People stared, some clucked and shook their heads and yet others stopped to see how this scenario would play out. The power struggle was on! The little girl most appalled because her calm mother refused to buy the demanded bar of chocolate. The pleading was upgraded and the foot-stamping became even more extreme. The asking was insistent and the demand was reaching the gradient of being furious. It was not attractive at all but the mother handled the matter calmly and without giving in to her resolve. No matter what the little person brought forth, the answer would remain unchanged.
None of us wants to have our children behave like this, but at times they do. Most of the onlookers understood and were ready to give the brave mummy a pat on the back. The little person learned a lesson. Pouting and shouting don’t bring results. They never should. None of us is entitled to everything we want or demand! Get used to it. A much better way to live is to be happy with what we’ve got and added to that a massive spoonful of gratitude. We then work with our hands to get the results we deserve. They are then valued and appreciated.
Another cascading took place later the same day. In a quiet grove, some time was spent just listening to the gentle breeze and observing colours of orange and brown and yellow cascading to the ground. The Autumn season is such a magnificent time; nature displaying its colourful coat and eventually shedding it. No-fuss. No tantrum. No wailing. Just a sight of showers of cascading leaves assisted by the breeze; a working together of elements required bringing the ‘season beautiful’ to a close.
But… Winter is coming. Then the season brings rest and cold and frost and ice and dullness – to some. But… Spring is coming! There is always faithfulness about the patterns of creation. It simply is comforting and always brings expectation.
Contemplating a while, it reminds of the paradox of real life. The cascading wailing sounds of the little girl making her furious demands, remaining insistent in her “I must have” resolve, did not bring the desired outcome for her. But it made a point.
Prayer. The most wonderful and mysterious gift given to humankind asks of us: Ask, Seek and Knock is a progression of persistent prayer. This is not about putting in a casual and unemotional request. Rather it involves discipline and diligence and oh yes, the bit we don’t really want to hear – some struggling. We do this by example. Jesus Christ wrestled in prayer in Gethsemane. And He did it with humankind on His mind and in His heart. So – do you pray? Do your prayers cascade across your mouth to bring forth your hurt, confusion, jealousy, hatred, joy, peace and gratitude? The leaves fall, they lie down and they differ, but they show a pattern. The time does eventually come. No need to throw a tantrum because a request is not coming to pass. It should bring an intense constancy: My Father is better than even any good earthly father. Ever faithful. Always trustworthy. Always at the right time. Seed-time and harvest. Summer and winter. The cycle is secure.
Prayer. Ask, seek, knock. Keep on asking. Keep on seeking. Keep on knocking. But… let your attitude be one of trust and a settled sense of the goodness of God. He always knows best, always.
Let’s do it together: Father, please will You teach me how to pray, how to seek and how to ask. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. And then do it.
Read: Matthew Chapter 7: 7-12. James 1: 5 – 8.
African Blessings Missions Director