by Bob Wickizer

Bob Wickizer
Jeremiah 31:27-34

People have been trying to play god and manipulate god since time began. Today we think it is quaint to see a video of indigenous peoples dancing and praying to bring rain to their crops. We thoroughly modern educated people just know that such prayer won't bring rain. But who hasn't listened to the high school coach pray with the team before a game for god to guide the team to victory? Who hasn't heard the politician's prayer that god will protect our people and bring the chosen people victory over their enemies?

The god of our culture is a machine: prayers go in and blessings come out IF we know how to pray just the right way. We pray to this god for certain favors. If our requests are granted then we tell all our friends about the miracle of prayer. Maybe we'll go to church more than we did in the past. If our prayers are not answered the way we wanted then most of us are tempted to think, "It must be me. I'm not religious enough. Maybe I should pray harder."

Sometimes individuals manage to break free of their ego-gratifying god in a box – the god who blesses me. Once free of this god who gives you all the goodies, you quickly learn that prayer has nothing to do with telling God anything. Prayer becomes a means of not losing heart as Jesus said. Prayer becomes a way to come into God's presence, to grasp God's sense of justice and to experience the awesome faithfulness God has towards us.

But Jesus ends his parable not talking about prayer but by asking the question, "When the Son of Man comes again at the end of times, will he find any faith on this earth?" That's as good a question today as it was when he first asked it. If Jesus returned today what would he find?

Would the Son of Man find a world filled with people totally absorbed in their own lives praying to a god who bestows favors on them? Or somewhere in the whole world, would he find a group that gave themselves pas ...

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