PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

 

Spiritual gifts first


How many times do we rejoice at seeing the fruits of our ardent prayers for others fulfilled? And yet how many times do we cry on our knees because we feel like our prayers for ourselves are not heard at all? Then after sometime, we finally see the light and realize that we have been saying the wrong prayers all along? There are requests and requests but one request that God seems to favor is the prayer for spiritual gifts.

This is how G.J. puts it: “On your birthday, ask for spiritual gifts and God will provide all the materials needed.”

It's a long-standing observation of mine that whenever I request God for something spiritual, be it to find a long-lost prayer or a chance to visit a certain church or to get rid of a minor habit, He always answers almost at lightning speed. Whereas if I pray for some material things for no other better end than selfish want, I always feel that He is delaying, relegating my plea to the back burner.

The best way to attract God’s favor – i.e., effortlessly – is to do a King Solomon, not that split-the-baby-in-two solution thrown at the two bickering women claiming to be the real mother, but to that glorious moment when King Solomon was asked by God to choose which gift he wants best for himself and, of all the things he could possibly choose – wealth, health, looks, women, fame, he chose God’s wisdom.

It’s a choice we can never fake because it is one that has to come from the heart.

Maybe if we choose wisdom, there wouldn’t be anyone happier in the world than God. Maybe He knows that at the root of that choice is the desire to be always pleasing to Him. At the root of that choice is one man’s great love for God.

Apparently, God values highly deeds and prayers done out of genuine love of God and neighbor.

Prayers for peace in that far-off land, for someone’s healing, for a stranger who we sense needs our intercession, words that bless and secret deeds of kindness and charity - these things catch the Lord’s eyes.

So this means that, if we can’t help praying for our own concerns, the way to catch His attention is to prove how much we love Him by asking for graces that would lead us closer to Him.

There is one song I’ve learned that speaks about this noble desire to please God and learn more about His thoughts. It goes, “O send forth Your light and Your truth, let this be my guide. Let them bring me to Your holy mount, to the place where You abide. Then I shall go to the altar of God, my joy and my delight. And offer a praise as a sacrifice, My God, my light, my life.”

The ironic twist to this is that the Lord pours out His material blessings whenever we seek spiritual growth, is support of that growth. There's this Biblical passage that is always quoted by others to a point that annoys, but I realize it is one beautiful passage that can never be overemphasized to the point of triteness:

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will grant you your heart’s desire.”

9.3.2000


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