God wants to hear from us
by REV. LAURIE TENHAVE-CHAPMAN
First Congregational Church of Rockford
“Dear God, for my birthday I would really like a shiny red wagon and especially a puppy. Thanks for my good life! Amen.” So reads, we imagine, the prayer of a young child: simple requests for things they would like which may come to fulfillment, but may not.
Well, I offered a prayer not unlike the one of that child recently. It went something like this: “Dear God, my whole family is yearning for a new dog. They have honored my hesitancy, given that we have a new house and new furniture and have only been without a pet for one year (out of the past 25). I’m anxious about giving up my freedom, God, and introducing the demands of a pet into our new home. But it’s time, God, so I ask for your guidance and place the possibility of this new dog in your loving hands. Amen.”
Does God really take time for requests as seemingly trivial as this? When soldiers are risking their lives, and environmental issues clamor for our attention, do I dare bog God down with my little plea for a good family dog?
All I can say is that I offered that prayer humbly and earnestly, with a no-strings-attached expectation of response, and, I can assure you, my prayer was answered! As far as I’m concerned, we just won the “Animal Shelter Lottery,” because my daughter and I found the best dog for our family that any of us can imagine. He was listed as a stray, but was clearly somebody’s dog because he can sit, shake, fetch and is house-trained. He is approximately 2 years old, which means he doesn’t chew much anymore and is past the age of continuous wayward straying. He’s housebroken and so trusting that he lets my daughters hold him like you would a baby—totally relaxed. Wow! How could a transition into having a new pet be as easy as this? I told my husband, who was shocked that I got past my new-house control issues to bring home a dog, that I was thankful—thankful to God. I considered my prayers answered.
In the Bible, Jesus is recorded as saying in John’s Gospel, “If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.” We don’t hear that kind of promise too often! So, can I ask to win the lottery and expect God to honor that because I dropped Jesus’ name in the conversation? There certainly are abuses to prayer, but there are also those who avoid offering prayers about very important personal matters because they think they are bogging the Creator of the Universe down with trivialities. So what to do?
Like any loving parent, God wants to know what’s on our minds and in our hearts. Like any good parent, God already knows really, but wants to hear it from us. If we place ourselves into God’s care and ask for guidance in the areas of our lives where we most need help, and if we ask with openness toward answers that might be other than those we wanted/expected, I believe God hears and honors our requests in some way or another. So while some might chalk our dog-find to coincidence, I would rather err on the side of gratitude. I love a God who knows me, my family and our needs. And, most recently, our prayers were answered in the form of a sweet, chocolate spaniel. Thanks God, he’s perfect!