Best of Daily Reflections: God Is Not the Master of Oliver Twist’s Kitchen
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.
One of my favorite scenes in literature appears in Charles Dickens' novel, Oliver Twist. Oliver, an unfortunate nine-year-old orphan, lives in a workhouse, where he and his fellow orphans are poorly treated and even more poorly fed. After the boys draw lots, it falls to poor Oliver to ask the master of the workhouse kitchen for some additional food. In desperate misery, he approaches the master and says, "Please, sir, I want some more." In astonishment, the master exclaims, "What!" As Oliver repeats his request for more, the master strikes him on the head with his ladle and grabs him to turn him over to the higher authorities. Soon, he is expelled from the workhouse and sold into virtual slavery ... all because he had the audacity to ask for more.
When you come before God in prayer, do you ever worry that God is like the master of Oliver's kitchen? Do you ever fear that God is going to reject your request, bop you on the head, and send you packing? Do you ever hold back in your requests because you believe at some place deep in your heart that God either doesn't have what you need or doesn't want to give it to you?
I've been a Christian for a long time, and my theology is more-or-less consistent with Scripture, so I know that God is not like Oliver's kitchen master. But, honestly, sometimes my fears obscure my vision. Sometimes I fail to approach God openly because some part of me is worried that I have exhausted God's mercy.
If you can relate to this at all, I have good news for you and for me. This good news comes from the example of Paul, who writes in Ephesians 3:16: "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you...." Paul prays with confidence and boldness, knowing that God has everything we need, and far more. No doubt, Paul remembers what he has revealed elsewhere in Ephesians: that we are forgiven "in accordance with the riches of God's grace" (1:7); that God is "rich in mercy" (2:4); that God might show "the incomparable riches of his grace" (2:7); and that the "riches of Christ" are "boundless" (3:8). If God is truly so rich in grace and mercy, then we can approach God in prayer with confidence, with boldness, even with joyful abandon.
The God who revealed himself in Jesus Christ loves to give us more when we ask: more grace, more mercy, more power, more love, more of himself. What great news!
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you ever approach God in prayer as if he were like the master of Oliver's workhouse? Why or why not? When you come before God in prayer, how do you think about God? Do you ever hold back in prayer because you worry that you might burden God with your prayers?
PRAYER: O Lord, I do want more. More of your grace. More of your mercy. More of your power. More of your love. More of you. I long to be filled to overflowing with all of your fullness! So, yes indeed. Please, Lord, I want some more! Amen.