What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
Jesus recognizes and deals with one of the main barriers—and closed doors—that hinders us from praying, which is our view of God. Our view of God—if someone asked us the question—might be positive. We might say, “God is love” or “God died for me” and “I’m saved by grace.” Whatever our response, it is likely each of us would say something mostly positive if we’re believers. But Jesus is dealing with the hidden view we have of God—a negative one, the one we actually live out. It’s this wrong view He is trying to uproot, from both our minds and our hearts, that hinders us from coming to Him in prayer.
Jesus uses the analogy of a father. This is a great analogy because God is revealed as our Heavenly Father at the start of the Lord’s prayer, so we know throughout Scripture this was the way God conveyed Himself to His people. Jesus tackles the ridiculous views we have of God by making a comparison to imperfect earthly fathers. What dad, if his son asked him for something to eat, would give him a poisonous, dangerous snake? With all our flaws as dads, this just wouldn’t happen. Jesus highlights how wrong our view of Him really is through this contrast.
How many of us have resisted coming to our Heavenly Father when we have done something wrong, needing forgiveness but thinking He will give us guilt? How many times have we not prayed or knocked or asked, or sought Him out, because we needed grace but thought He might bring judgment. Even though we might know the right answer, it doesn’t mean our hidden thoughts about Him align to who He really is. And it is our lack of prayer—or intimacy or communion with Him—that tells us that our real view of Him is wrong. We do think He might give us a stone instead of bread, or death instead of life, or condemnation instead of mercy.
We need to knock down this door; don’t knock politely on the wrong view you have of God. Get the sledgehammer out and take this door off its hinges because Jesus doesn’t want it in the way. He wants us to run into His presence, knowing He has very, very good things in store for us. Let’s let go of the silly idea that our Heavenly Father has horrible things waiting for us. Sure, circumstances won’t be perfect, but that wasn’t His guarantee. His promise was perfect love in the storm. His promise was blessings greater than the things of this world. So may we not expect the opposite of what He has for us, but may our expectations go through the roof, knowing He has unlimited love and grace available for each of us. Out of the overflow of a church that knocks down this view, we can reach a city that desperately needs a new and right view of the Father—but it starts with us in prayer.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17
// Pastor Josh Kelsey