Barley or Gold

yellowing-of-the-barley-800697_1920“Why do you ask for barley when gold is available?” I was recently discussing the promises of God with my dear friends from Ethiopia, Desalegn and his wife, Tigist, when she asked that question. It landed in the middle of the room like a brick falling from the ceiling. I sat for a moment in silence allowing the weight of her question to impact me. She went on to challenge us with the notion that Christians are blinded by their own needs and lose sight of how big the ONE is who provides for our needs.

Why do I typically utter prayers asking for barley? Figuratively, of course. Not once can I recall actually praying for God to give me barley. I do find myself often praying for a temporary need to be met, though. If I am honest, many of my prayer requests to God are small, even basic. Jesus tells me that my prayers can move mountains. He tells me that I have access to His power, and that even the Kingdom of God is within me.   Yet often I pray knowing that God “can” do something but wondering if he “will.”

For almost 20 years in my walk with Christ, prayer has been almost an elusive concept. Sometimes I felt as if God was talking to me very directly. It was never audible, but still so very clear. Then there were those lonely days when it seemed like my prayers were a long distance phone call to God, wondering if He even heard a word I said. Whether near or far, I still wrestle with the notion of praying for barley rather than asking God for gold.

In reflection, I sensed the Holy Spirit was illuminating some unhealthy realities in my life. I saw some stuff that God wanted me to deal with. In my prayer life, I often do not have the courage to ask God for gold. As a pastor, I am embarrassed to admit I find myself doubting. Is God is really that good? I believe that He will give others gold, but me…I know me, and gold seems just too good to be true. So I settle for barley.

I am just afraid to ask God for gold. This strange struggle with a fear of failure can poison my prayers. I find myself doubting and wondering if I even have enough faith. I believe that He can give gold, but will He? So once again, I am basing my expectation of God’s response on my own inadequacy. I kinda bow my head in a doubting pose and simply ask for barley.

The root of the issue comes back to my own self-centeredness. Whether a lack of courage or a fear of failure, I find myself much like Peter, a man of little faith. The Holy Spirit, as He often does, has lifted my head and encouraged me, though. He reminded me, this time quite audibly in the voice of my friend, Tigist, that I can boldly walk into the throne room of God and ask for gold. I must stop focusing on my brokenness, pray big prayers and trust in God’s provision. I am so thankful for the barley that God provides, but it’s time to grow in my faith and ask Him for gold.

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