There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

what to ask God for Christmas this year

We enter into the season of Advent this Sunday, a period during which we rehearse that “looking forward” to Christmas,010784bl.jpg that anticipation of the celebration of the Incarnation of God in the form of a fragile, vulnerable child. Though looking forward is really looking back to a pivotal moment in God’s history, it may in some sense be another exercise in turning our attention–in looking forward–to the day when He will return. As those in the decades prior to the incarnation looked ahead to that undisclosed day when the Lord would come with power, are we no less implored to wait with expectation–that is with hope and obedience even in days of struggle and tedium–for the coming again of the Savior? Expectation is one emotion worthy of cultivating. Keep that in mind for a moment. There’s another emotion I’d like you to consider alongside that of expectation–this one derived from your childhood:

It may be a singularly American phenomenon, but did you ever pore over the glimmering pages of a Sears Christmas catalog, feasting visually on all the new toys you might ask Santa for? I don’t look wistfully back on those days–that is, it’s not an experience I hope to provide my children; being mesmerized by stuff is ultimately distracting to what we are really to take joy in, right? I make reference to this only for the emotion you might’ve felt in longing for all that. To my point: that longing you felt for all those toys–do you remember what it felt like to hope such things would come your way?

For our Sundays together in December, I’d like to talk about prayer from this angle: “what should you ask God for Christmas this year?” Advent calls us to look forward to the grace yet to come. Our childhood experiences might help us remember what it was like to ask for definitive things and hope for their arrival. Might our prayers be filled with those two emotions of expectation and longing? (Maybe that’s redundant.)

In any case, for four weeks in December, I’m going to suggest some definitive things to ask from God, things which we ought to long for, thing which we have good reason to expect His answers–albeit in unexpected forms. So, I hope this little blog entry will serve as a little introduction to our December…to save a little time in the setup. As a preview, here’s what I think you and I ought to have on our prayer lists, regardless of our circumstances: 1) that we see His glory (Exodus 33), 2) that we see our selves and our sin as God does (Ps 139), 3) that we begin to apprehend (not comprehend-see Webster’s entries to know the difference) the dimensions of Christ’s love (Eph 3:14-19), and 4) that we see unity within the church of such a kind that it communicates to everyone around us that this Jesus was really sent by God (Jn 17: 20-26).

I hope you’ll come. I hope you’ll pray for me in my preparation. I hope you’ll begin to pray for these things even before we flesh out what these things are. I will be praying for you.

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