If you are evil, then ask!

So I say to you, ask, and it wil be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives….If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?  (Luke 11:9,13)

This morning a wonderful thought flashed across my mind as I perused the daily reading in My Utmost for His Highest.  Typical to Chambers, this morning’s devotional got around to the importance and practice of prayer.  And here’s the idea that came to me as I read:

If you are evil then ask of Him!  For He has promised to give the Holy Spirit to evil people who ask of Him!

I laughed out loud as the sudden shaft of light illuminated my sleepy soul.  I think I’m just like the rest of you (or perhaps you’re like me?) and I struggle with an incessant legalistic notion that the better I perform the more welcome I am to God.  Now I’m certainly no  proponent of “cheap grace”, which says God doesn’t care if you live in sin.  God does care and He wants to bring us out of sin.

But the way out of sin is not in making believe you are a good person, after all, and in determining through gritted teeth to prove it today.  The way out is to realize that apart from Christ you are and will always be a slave to sin.  And that God’s ONLY answer to this dilemma is the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

When I recognize that apart from God’s work of grace in my life I’m as evil as the next guy, then I can ask of God based upon the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  And by the way, that is the only ground upon which you can actually stand in God’s presence! Okay, so all you well-informed evangelicals are agreeing at this point, right?  We all shake our heads in agreement.  Yep, that’s the truth. 

Then why do we ask so rarely?  Why is prayer something we are always trying to get around to?  I think it’s simple:  we still tend to base our thinking and living on our own sense of self-righteousness.  When I think I’m doing pretty good there’s no sense of desparation that drives me to prayer.  After all, it’s been weeks since I yelled at my wife, or kicked the dog, or looked at something inappropriate on the internet, or yielded to depression and ate the whole carton of ice cream.  Right? 

On the other hand, when I’ve really messed up and done something clearly sinful, there’s this powerful sense of guilt and my thoughts are not that I really need to get into God’s presence at this moment, but rather, “I can’t believe I’ve done this again.  How could I be so stupid.  It’s gonna takes months to recover from this foolish action….” 

Both of these scenarios, the good and the bad, are symptoms of self-righteousness.  And these mindsets blind us to the good news of the gospel and result in continued prayerlessness.

Jesus wants us to ask in prayer on the basis of redemption, on the basis of His nature and His work and not our own!  The very best of us, even willing to do good for our own children, are rotten to the core without Christ.  And He says, “I know you’re rotten, but if you will ask of Me, I will give you My Spirit and He will increasingly change that.”

In essence, it seems to me, Christ is telling us that we must get over ourselves.  We must yield to the fact that God answers prayer on the basis of Christ’s goodness and not ours.  And though evil, if I am bold enough to ask God for more of His Spirit, He will be more pleased to accomodate me that I am eager to see my own children blessed.

That thought made me laugh for joy this morning!  It literally put tears in my eyes.

It makes me want to pray right now.  It makes me think God is eager to hear and respond to my prayers right now.  So I think I’ll pray right now.  Talk to you later.

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