The Prayer God Loves to Answer
Text: Luke 7:1-10 | Listen to Message
Two Approaches To God
There are basically just two approaches to God – and both are demonstrated in a short story that’s told for us in Luke chapter 7.
An unnamed Roman centurion has a treasured servant who’s sick to the point of death. The soldier has heard of Jesus and believes he can heal his friend, so he sends a delegation of Jewish elders to appeal to him to come and help. These good, orthodox Jews represent approach #1:
#1: The Merit Approach:
This approach sounds like this: “God, you’ve got to do this for me, because I…” I what? “I’m so faithful to you. So loyal. So good at being good. So generous. So loving. So kind. I go to church. And read my Bible. And pray. And serve.” We might as well follow up these kinds of prayers with, “And you’re welcome, God…You’re really, really lucky to have me on your team.”
In short, the merit approach says, “I’m worthy, so God owes me.”
And notice where the emphasis falls: on the recipient. I am worthy. We are worthy. He is worthy. She is worthy. They are worthy. God, we deserve this! You owe us!
But this was not the centurion’s attitude. The moment he finds out Jesus is actually coming to his house, he sends a second delegation to express his true convictions. And the words of his servants represent the second approach to God:
#2: The Mercy Approach:
This approach sounds like this: “God, I’m not worthy, but I believe in you.”
Here we’re not trying to convince God that we’re worthy based on some lopsided, self-righteous list of our accomplishments and credentials that conveniently ignores our demerits and sin. The mercy approach readily admits the bad with the good…and pleads with God for His grace.
The mercy approach is rooted in humility, rather than pride. And it’s obsessed with the worthiness of the Giver (Jesus) rather than the recipient. In place of the religious, “I’m a good person doing good,” we hear the Gospel: “I’m not even worthy to be under the same roof as Jesus…but I believe in his brand of authority of compassion. He owes me nothing…but if he speaks in mercy, I know everything will be okay.”
When you pray, be honest, which approach do you tend to take with God? Do you want Him to answer on the basis of your goodness…or His grace?