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Sort the stones, bake the bread

by davesandel on January 16th, 2021

Saturday, January 16, 2021                (today’s lectionary)

Sort the stones, bake the bread

The word of God is living and effective, penetrating even between soul and spirit, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

I was disking up a soybean field. The dust was thick around my John Deere tractor cub, but inside I was snug and clean. The radio was mostly set to WPEO, 70 years old now but back then Peoria’s first Christian radio station. Jack Hayford’s was on at 1 pm, after Steve Brown and before Chuck Swindoll. Or was it the other way around?

Jack Hayford said one day that I should not worry about what I asked God for, because he was an expert at sorting out stones from bread. And he never gave his kiddos stones. Just like us, he fed his children bread. If I asked for a stone, he would give me bread instead. This is Jesus’ dad we’re talking about. Relax. Let him love you, Jack said.

Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. We have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, who been tested like us in every way, yet without sinning. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and rescue in our time of need.

Rosalind Rinker in Prayer talks about “faith-sized requests.”

This is not a request so large that the very size of it makes you wonder if God will answer. It is a request for a particular situation, in which you pray for a special person or thing, and ask only for that which you can REALLY BELIEVE GOD WILL DO, in a given time limit.

If I’m going to talk to God about what I want, I might as well help us both out by sorting away the stones and let Ros show me how to bake bread.

O, let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O God. You are my rock and my redeemer, and your words, O Lord, are Spirit and life.

Ros was a missionary in China, then a missionary in Chicago. She spoke often with college students. They appreciated her simple way of speaking, and even more her direct way of praying.

About the time I began to be aware of honesty and simplicity and brevity in audible prayer, I listened carefully when others prayed, and also checked myself after I had prayed. I asked myself three questions:

    1. For what DEFINITE thing had I prayed?
    2. Did I believe I would get it?
    3. Could I picture myself receiving it?

The tragic answer all too often was that I wasn’t asking anything definite and I wasn’t receiving anything definite. I was praying platitudes. Bless this, bless that, bless him, bless her.

So Ros focused on two things: gratitude and small requests.

I was careful to ask only for that which I BELIEVED He could do. If you think that’s easy, try it, and keep your mind focused on being definite. I kept editing my prayer, until finally I would arrive at one small request which I confidently believed God could and would do in the situation … my prayers became less cliched, less padded, more honest and much simpler.

A couple of days ago Miles and Jasper found my drawer full of rosaries and icons and candles. Miles came out of the bedroom with a rosary around his neck and another one wrapped around his wrist. Jasper was carrying a 6 inch grocery store candle with Our Lady of Guadalupe painted on the holder. They made a proud procession!

I want to drape my prayer beads and light my candle, say thank you and leave the complicated prayers to someone else. Those kids and I are in the same league when it comes to prayer. Just do it. Say stuff, and let God do the rest.

Jesus said to Matthew, a tax collector, “Come and follow me.” Later he told his Pharisee critics, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. And I didn’t come to call the righteous, but the sinners!”

In Dallas Jenkins’ video “The Chosen,” Jesus pays particular attention to the children. They get along so well together. Later he meets Levi (Matthew), and calls him to join his throng of followers. Jesus rescues Matthew from his obsessive, compulsive life. Matthew’s prayers are answered.

These guys are a match made in heaven. Jesus needs a chronicler, and Matthew keeps a vigorous, daily journal. Of course Matthew was a sinner, as were the Pharisees, as are we. So Jesus calls us all to his hospital of mercy. For each of us, that is a match made in heaven.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. His decree, his precepts, his command and his ordinances are trustworthy, right, clear, pure and true.

(Hebrews 4, Psalm 19, Luke 4, Mark 2)

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One Comment
  1. Whitney Kauffman permalink

    “Just do it. Say stuff, and let God do the rest.” Love it!

    “For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said “I’m telling you once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom.” Matthew 18: 2-4 MSG

    I like this definition of elemental: “basic, or most simple, but strong”.

    Thank you for your words, Dave!

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