This week’s BBQ Book Club takes a hard swerve to Annie Dillard. We’ll be reading the selection from For the Time Being (which is a fantastic book all on its own) in her new collection of essays, The Abundance. Or maybe not such a hard swerve: this is still a story about the human being in the world, and you don’t need me to tell you that human beings are strange creatures, and this creation is strange, too.
This Sunday, we hear a little bit about prayer. And there’s a promise of Jesus, who says God will give us whatever need, if we ask for it.
Well, not exactly. We also get the prayer of Abraham, who prays that God will spare Sodom and Gomorrah—he bargains and bargains, and it seems like God might listen and do what Abraham asks. Of course, we know what will happen to Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham’s prayers were not answered.
All I can say is that the Rolling Stones were right: You can’t always get what you want. And, despite what you might hear from the televangelist frauds, God does not give just because we ask. God has a way of teaching us what to ask for—look, for instance, at the Lord’s Prayer. But God always gives us what we need—we don’t always know the difference. But God does, and if we keep asking God about that, God might just show us the difference.