In the last two sermons on Matthew 7:1-12, I have sought to demonstrate the unity of Christ’s teaching as He calls us to deal with sin before our Father’s throne of judgment (vv. 1-6) and to pray before our Father’s throne of grace (vv. 7-12). But my experience this morning challenged my exegesis on Sunday, seemingly pitting my dealing with sin and my praying against one another.
I had just finished my Bible reading and was preparing to head out to the porch to pray. I was about to ask, seek, and knock in the expectation that my large-hearted Father would hear and answer me. But before I could get outside, little Vos came out with his alarm clock in hand. Tessa and I recently got him a light-up clock that signals when he is allowed to get out of his bed (what a brilliant idea!). It hadn’t lit up yet, but there he was with a little speck of self-justification in his eye. I told him that he needed to stay in bed until his clock lit up green. So he laid back down, and I went outside to pray. A couple minutes later he was at the door saying his alarm clock had turned green. But I knew it hadn’t. Was he purposefully lying? Or was he getting his colors confused (the clock lights up yellow at other times)? “Lord, give wisdom and patience,” I prayed as I put him back into his bed. A few minutes later, he came out again with the alarm clock bright green. It was time to get up, and that marked the third “interruption” to my prayer time in a matter of minutes. But there would be fourth upon its heels for Vos came out yet again to inform me that one of his brothers (who remains anonymous!) was being unkind to him. “I’m just trying to pray,” I thought to myself. But inside I trekked to help my boys deal with their sin, and I quickly witnessed the unkindness with my own eyes and ears. There were clearly some wood chips in multiple eyes and no one wanted to own the one in their own eye. I needed wisdom to rightly assess and deal out just consequences. “Lord, help me!” One boy lost his screen time. Another boy got a spanking. And all of this while I was supposed to be praying!
When I finally got back to concentrated prayer, I had to laugh to myself. What a mess of a morning! This certainly didn’t accord with the heavenly prayer times of the unmarried George Whitfield that I had been reading about in his biography. No one will ever record my morning today in a biography! But I sensed the smile of God in it all as I attempted to pick back up where I had left off in prayer.
Life is messy. Parenting is messy. Prayer is messy. But our Heavenly Father knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust. He remembers that we are messy people living in a messy world, and yet He warmly welcomes us before His throne nonetheless and is pleased with our feeble prayers through Christ.
I’m learning that what appear to be interruptions to my devotion to Christ are nothing of the sort. The seeming interruptions this morning were actually opportunities to prove the sincerity of my discipleship. Interestingly, my sincerity was actually proven in pausing my prayer time and helping my boys deal with their sin. On the surface of my messy morning, Matthew 7:1-6 seemed to be at odds with Matthew 7:7-12. But in reality, they were intertwined in a way only God could bring about so that through His somewhat humorous providences (only funny after the fact!), I’m learning to bend myself lower before my just and gracious Father. Praise be to Him!
Yours in Christ,