Dear Lord, please send us a monkey!

Dear Lord, please send us a monkey!

Someone recently humbled me by asking if I’d write something about prayer.  Providentially, it would seem, since I’m reading ‘Did you think to pray?’ by R.T. Kendall.  So it has been on my mind.  Prayer has been a thing I’ve always done, since I first learned ‘Now I lay me down to sleep.’  But I have never understood it as well as I hoped, nor have I practiced it with any proper discipline.  Neverthless, I know that my prayers are heard and often answered.  And if not yet, that they will be one day, either here or in eternity.

So what do monkeys have to do with it?  My children, for years, have asked me for a pet monkey.  They have researched monkeys and read about them; they have cajoled and tried to trick me into saying yes.  They have down-sized and asked for a Pygmy Marmoset, smallest of all monkeys (which they assure me is entirely harmless).  Their mother and I, no fans of odd monkey viruses, have consistently, but lovingly, said no.

What a compliment!  I may not give them a monkey, but they are unafraid to ask me for one!  What a lesson in prayer.  We can come to God with any request at all!  And I have.  Lord help me find my child’s lost toy.  Lord help me be a better husband!  Lord help me to get this intubation!  Lord help me to figure out what’s wrong with this patient, because you know them better than I do!  Lord help me write this column!  No question too large or too small.  My children ask me what they should order at restaurants.  I’ve asked God the same thing.  They ask me what they should be when they grow up!  I have asked God the same thing.  They ask me for monkeys, I’ve asked for things I haven’t received either.

But, even while asking for monkeys and being denied by simian discriminating parents, my children have received buckets of blessings from their mother and I.  Food, clothing, travel, gifts, love, hugs, understanding, wisdom, stories, laughter, education.  We’ll probably be building an iron-forge because my boys want to learn that craft.  No monkey, but pretty cool anyway!

The monkey request may never come to fruition, but other requests are heard and answered all the time.   So with us.  What we pray for may seem unanswered.  But it may merely be because other requests, other desires, other unspoken needs of our hearts, are being answered in the mean time.

In James 4:2, the Bible says, ‘…you have not because you ask not.’  Jesus said in John 14:14, ‘If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.’  In His name being the operative point.  It has to be in God’s will; He has to approve.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 says ‘Pray without ceasing.’

It may be that the monkey represents something we need, and He will give us.  It may be that asking for the monkey is merely the discipline we’ll need later, to ask for other things. And it may just be that one day, the monkey will come knocking on the door.

I told the children, if a monkey shows up on our property, I’ll consider keeping it.  It’s South Carolina.  It’s unlikely.  But God hears children, calls us to be like them in our faith, and is clearly capable of sending a monkey to our house.

But the lesson is this.  We are God’s children.  We are allowed to ask!  We can climb on his lap anytime of the year, not like Santa Claus at Christmas only.  He welcomes us year round, all day and night.  We can ‘approach the throne of grace with confidence,’ as it says in Hebrews 4:16.

So go ahead.  Ask for the monkey.  But look around at all the other things he gives, and requests he answers, while He’s not giving you the ape you ask for.  Still, don’t be surprised if…

Edwin

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