Mary over at One Thing Is Needed has asked a brilliant question about the idea of asking for favor or expecting favor on our lives because we are believers. Please read it here. I didn’t want to take up all the comment space there so I’ll reply here.
As I said in the comments, Marsh and I discussed this most of last evening after I did a brief study of the words favor and grace in the Old and New Testament. In the New Testament I love that the word favor is actually the word grace. They are interchangeable. As I read all the verses that use the word grace in the New Testament I found that grace means so much more than just God bestowing good things on us. It is totally wrapped up into the Person of Grace. Often it is referred to as the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I love that it is not just a concept anymore but a Person.
So much like me, I was ready to throw out asking for favor or grace at all because we now live IN grace. But then Husband asked, “What about all the verses that make it clear that God wants his children to ask for things. Paul even talks about asking for grace/favor to do things. You can’t throw those out.” (He is always doing this to me…..grrrrr….balance and all that) We then decided that there is a big difference from asking for favor or grace and asking for preference. Preference says “bless me and not them.” Preference says, "Give me the job and don’t give it to the other person.“ Preference says, “Give me the wealth of the Gentiles.“ (See preference was totally understood to the Jewish people in the Old Testament. This is how they saw it. If you obey - you will get favor - preference - from God.) But favor - this New Testament idea - can include just asking for the blessing that Father has already said He wants to give us.
It is kind of like the two sons in the Prodigal Son story. Both sons could have lived in the grace or favor of their father. Neither son did. The wayward son was not living in the grace that was there all the time but we find out that the elder son also was not living in it because he would not ask for anything.
It will probably change my prayer life quite a bit. I really do trust the Father to give me good things. I want to stay as far away from the “name-it-claim-it” “I get preferential treatment because I’m a believer” camp. But I also can’t be shy about asking for things either. I want to ask in a much more humble way though. Not “Give me preference over all the heathen,” or “Me first!!" kind of prayer, but more like, “ Father I would really like this and know that your heart is to give me good gifts, so I’m asking, but I trust You with the giving part.”
Thanks Mary, this was very helpful.
UPDATE: Sara, in the comments gave a link to a blog that mentions a famous preacher in the news lately. It was his sense of ENTITLEMENT that is so off. This is a perfect word to describe the very thing that I am trying to describe above. Favor that becomes entitlement is twisted. Thanks Sara!