Wednesday, 30 June 2021
Title: Lessons from a vacuum cleaner
By Dorothy Teoh
Luke 18: 1-8
I knew the pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns had been going on for too long when I started talking to my newly-acquired robot vacuum cleaner.
“No, no, go there, there!” I found myself telling the robot the first time I used it when it kept cleaning the same area. Not unlike how you would train a new puppy at home! In fact, the way the robot moved around the apartment and under furniture using its sensor reminded me of an inquisitive puppy nosing around a new place.
But as I stood there for a while watching the robot keep bumping itself against a barrier to test it (it wasn’t a high-end model and didn’t come with a programmable route function), it reminded me of how we can sometimes keep insisting on our own way when we have prayed about something and God’s answer is “no”. We pray “Your will be done” when what we really mean is “Please Lord, let my will be your will!”
The robot’s action in persisting to test the barrier to see if it could go through also brought to mind another lesson – the need for us to be persistent in prayer.
In Luke 18: 1-8, Jesus told his disciples the parable of the persistent widow and unjust judge to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 3 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ 4 For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” (Luke 18: 2-5, NRSV)
Unlike the judge in the parable, our loving Heavenly Father welcomes us with open arms. But just as we can be guilty about praying “Your will be done” and not mean it, we can give up too easily instead of persisting in prayer, especially when God does not seem to answer or seems to be taking His time to do so. We are often told that God answers in three ways: yes, no or wait. If it is “yes” and there is a breakthrough, we rejoice and give thanks. But when it is “no” or “wait”, we get disheartened and are tempted to give up.
In 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18, Paul exhorts his readers to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It can be very hard to “give thanks in all circumstances” when we or our loved ones face illness or even bereavement, the loss of jobs and livelihood, or when relationships break down. But all the more, that is when we need to pray!
When my robot vacuum cleaner was running low on battery, it returned to the charging station to recharge. Let’s not wait until our own reserves run low before we turn, or return, to God in prayer.
Thank you, Abba Father, for the gift of prayer. It is such a privilege to be able to come before you directly and bring our petitions, hopes, fears, and dreams before you. Help us not just to pray without ceasing but to make every aspect of our lives, whether it’s work, personal life, ministry or other areas, a prayer. And as we do, help us to experience the abundant life that your beloved Son, our Lord and Saviour, promised. For in His Name we pray. Amen.
当我在那里站了一会儿，看着吸尘机器人不停地撞向障碍物进行测试时(它不是高端型号，也没有可编程的路线功能)，这让我想起，当我们为某事祈祷，而上帝的回应是 “不” 时，我们有时是如何坚持自己的方式的。我们祈求 “祢的旨意成就”，而我们真正的意思是 “主啊，让我的旨意成为祢的旨意！”
吸尘机器人坚持测试障碍，看它是否能通过的行动也令我想起了另一个教训 – 我们需要坚持不懈地祈祷。
2 说：“某城里有一个官，不惧怕神，也不尊重世人。3 那城里有个寡妇，常到他那里，说：‘我有一个对头，求你给我伸冤。’4 他多日不准。后来心里说：‘我虽不惧怕神，也不尊重世人；5 只因这寡妇烦扰我，我就给他伸冤吧，免得他常来缠磨我！（路加福音18:2-5，和合本）
与比喻中的官不同，我们慈爱的天父张开双臂欣喜地接纳我们。但正如我们所犯祷告 “祢的旨意成就” 时不是真心实意一样，我们会轻易放弃，而不是坚持祈求，尤其当上帝似乎没有回应，或者行事慢吞吞的时候。我们经常被告知，上帝的回应有三种方式：应允、不或等。如果是 “应允”，并有了突破，我们就会欢欣且感恩；但当是 “不” 或 “等” 时，我们就感到沮丧，试图放弃。
保罗在帖撒罗尼迦前书5:16-18劝勉他的读者：“要常常喜乐，不住地祷告，凡事谢恩，因为这是神在基督耶稣里向你们所定的旨意。” 当我们或我们所爱的人面临疾病甚至丧亲之痛、失去工作和生计，或者关系破裂时，要 “凡事谢恩” 是非常困难的；但那是我们更加需要祈祷的时候！