Friday, April 20, 2012

Donkey Prayers

I was speaking to a friend recently who was going on and on about how much she "dislikes" Christians.  (Don't you love conversations like these?).  The friend, and I mean friend, all of us need people in our lives who don't see the world exactly as we see it - I call them my Spiritual ombudsmen.  The usual list of complaints followed the initial invective of the word "dislike".  "Christians," said my friend, "are culturally shallow, they have a history that is full of violence, they are hypocrites, and they are judgmental.  Christians are disengaged, uninformed, uninterested in the real problems which face the world."   I had heard the list before.  My response to such critiques has always been the same, "I never try to defend Christians.  Christians are people too, and none of us is perfect.  But I will defend Christ.  Christ is always perfect."

But, then my friend threw out a critique that I hadn't heard before, and one which has caused me to stop and think a moment before I responded.  She said, "And the thing I dislike the most about Christians is that they pray about so many dumb little things.  They pray about parking spaces and hang nails and for good tables at restaurants and for isle seats.  I mean, do you think God really cares about these little things?"  Hmmm, she had a point.  God is pretty important, He does rule the world, and He may not actually have time for a lot of our littler prayers.  But then, I made a great discovery in my Bible this past week, which is a response to my friend's critique, and I believe a word from God.

God often takes our small prayers and converts them into great big plans for the kingdom of God.  I call these small requests that we make of God our;

Donkey Prayers...

Donkey prayers are tiny, piddly, little, minor prayers that are so small that we are almost embarrassed to mention them.  Donkey prayers are prayers for a good wi-fi connection, that my indigestion will go away, that I will have lots of bars on my cell phone, that I won't run into traffic, that I will write a good blog post... and the list goes on...

The first donkey prayer in the history of small prayers was an errand that we read about in the book of Samuel, where a man named Kish sends his son, by the name of Saul, on an errand to go and find the donkeys that have run away from the family barn.  Saul and his servant friend look high and low for the donkeys but they do not find them.  The Bible says, "They passed through the mountains of Ephraim and through the land of Shalisha, but them did not find them.  They passed through the land of Shaalim and they were not there.  They passed through the land of Benjamites, but they did not find them." (1 Samuel 9:4)  Finally, in desperation, the boys go to visit a prophet, a man of God, a seer, a visionary named Samuel, to get advice about where the donkeys are.  In modern day parlance, we would refer to this visit to Samuel to get advice about a donkey as a silly prayer.  These boys are going to God for advice about a very small and insignificant thing - donkeys.

Now, a day before the boys go to the prophet, God actually speaks to Samuel and says, "Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over all my people Israel."  Sure enough, the next morning a young boy, the kid in question named Saul, would walk in with his servant and ask the prophet Samuel for advice about his donkeys.  Samuel then tells Saul that God has chosen him for a much higher purpose, to lead a nation, to be a king.  God would turn that prayer about donkeys into the beginning of the monarchy for the Israelite people, a monarchy that would lead genealogically to the savior of the world, Jesus, some 600 years later.

So, my friend, if you are reading this post, I will close with this.  Yes, Christians can sometimes be short-sighted, yes they can sometimes be small, yes they don't always see the larger picture, yes they can suffer from tendencies towards hypocrisy.  I count myself in that group.  However, I would not be so quick to dismiss their small prayers, because history has shown that God has the power to turn very small prayers - our donkey prayers, into great things for the kingdom.

All For Now,


  1. I loved this post because I am always praying about small and big things.. I have a continous monologue going with God throughout the day. I read this a little bit ago and had to share that while I was with my daughter the other day this post jumped back into my head. We were at Subway and she asked for a smoothie, I said "only if my back pack is in the car with my Subway coupons" I then turned to go to the car and remembered it wasn't in there, when I turned back around to tell her it was at home she had her head bent down, eyes closed.. praying that my back pack was in the car. I was proud and it brought me to back to reading about donkey prayers. She got her smoothie anyways and thought I wonder how this prayer is going to make our kingdom a better place, can't wait to find out. :)

  2. yeah same i also like dick

  3. so donkey prayers people are real keep the good job in another 100 years maybe we will see another sun