“…yet ye have not, because ye ask not.” James 4:2
My second son was one of those kids who could never make up his mind. I would try to encourage him to tell me what he wanted, but he just never seemed to be able, except for food of course! But when it came to Christmas, or his birthday, he would say he didn’t know what he wanted. Then, afterwards I would hear him say, “I would have liked that.” And my blood would boil. I so wanted to make him happy, but because he would never be upfront with what really mattered to him it left me feeling like a failure and left him disappointed. To this day I don’t know the real reason behind why he was hesitant to ask for what he wanted. Sometimes he would say that he didn’t think we could afford it. Maybe he didn’t believe that we would seek to give him his wish, but for whatever reason, he was afraid to ask.
We can be like that with the Lord. We don’t really believe that he is either able or willing to give us what we really desire. Maybe we think our wish is trivial or unimportant. Maybe we think we don’t deserve it. But for whatever reason, we go around disappointed because we don’t see what we want.
Other times I think it is pride that causes us not to ask. We have swallowed the non-Scriptural thought that God helps those who help themselves and think that we have to do something to earn His gifts. Or, we don’t want to humble ourselves enough to ask. We would rather do without and think we are being super spiritual than to let go of our pride and come in child-like faith to a loving heavenly Father to have all of our needs met.
James 1:5 is speaking of the desire for wisdom and in this matter of asking, we need great wisdom. What does James 1:5 promise? “let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally…” Hum, sounds to me like God enjoys giving to his children. All they have to do is ask. What is holding you back?
“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Matthew 21:22
Asking takes faith. Faith is believing we will receive. Faith is not to be placed in the action of asking, but in the One from whom we will receive our request. It therefore involves praise and submission as we come before the throne.
When it comes to your human father, you ask because you expect that he will be able to grant your request. You do not demand. but you come as a seeking receiver. He is the one that will grant the request. Your hopes are pinned on his ability, not your own. You believe that your father will give you what you have asked because either you know he has the ability, or that your request is within his power to grant, or you believe that he would want to do this for you.
When we ask our heavenly Father, these truths must be exercised as well. We must believe that He is the one to grant the request and that it is within His ability. Of course, all things are within His ability, but we must also recognize that all things are within His prerogative as well. We do not come to God with a demanding attitude, but one of earnest expectation and faith.
Another aspect of asking is removal of pride. We cannot expect to receive because of our own merit, or simply because we have put forth our request. The receiving is dependent upon the goodness of the Father. The Father holds the options. He can grant the request, delay to answer until an appropriate time, or deny the request altogether. It is his prerogative, just as with earthly fathers.
God wants us to ask. He wants to answer. This is how a relationship is built and trust is strengthened. Answers to prayer are like stitches that hold a garment together: the more the stitches, the stronger the bond.
What is your attitude in prayer requests? Do you come believing?
“Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matthew 7:9-11
One of the lies of Satan is that God will withhold from us, or that God is not able to adequately meet our need. When we believe this lie we start coming to God with beggarly requests. We cry before him for things he has already provided.
Wouldn’t you count it foolish for a child to ask his earthly father daily if he were going to let them live in the house, eat at the table and wear clothes? Yet, we fret over these things daily. How much better the child that seeks his father’s counsel for growth and development and by faith with confidence and thankfulness leaves the physical needs to be met by the father’s love without doubtful asking?
When we limit our prayers to only requests for things God has already provided or promised to provide we are not exhibiting faith. We are actually exhibiting unthankfulness and discontent with what we have. We seek as Gentiles who only crave only material and physical desires; yet, he wants to give us more.
God is good. He wants to meet our need and he does meet our need. Yet, how much more could he give us if we were to be thankful and recognized the good gifts he has already provided? It is a good exercise to examine our heart attitudes about the gifts of God. It is a good exercise to eradicate lies from our prayer life. Simply take time to ask yourself the questions posed in today’s Scripture.
If we think we are good parents by meeting the physical needs of our children to the best of our ability, how much greater a parent is God and what good things could he give us if we were thankful for what we already had and believed Him to be a good parent?
“In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.” I Kings 3:5
What an amazing offer God made to Solomon. “Ask what ever you want and I will give it you.” But Solomon was ready. He knew what he needed - wisdom.
When we read of Blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10 Jesus posed the same type of question, “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? Bartimaeus was also ready. He knew what he needed – sight.
These men made specific requests. They knew what they needed and they believed that the source of their request was right before them, so the seized the opportunity.
We, however, tend to ask so generically. “Lord, bless us.” “Lord, watch over…” “Lord, help me!” God already blesses. God already watches over. God is our constant help. Not that these are to be overlooked, but I put it to you that we are not ready.
We are not aware of our real need so our requests become general. We ask, but our definition is so blurred that we do not even see the answers to our prayers because we do not know what they look like. We just toddle along blinded to the real power of the relationship we can have with an Almighty God who is standing before us asking what we need.
Define your request. Make it something that can be evidenced when granted. You need spiritual strength – ask Him! You need great wisdom – ask Him! You need deliverance from addiction – ask Him! You need a friend and some real encouragement – ask Him! Then look and recognize what he does. Remember, he is able to do more! So, prove Him! He is not afraid and he will not fail.
Are you ready with a specific request? Why hesitate? Ask.
“Now unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…” Ephesians 3:20
I love this “exceeding abundantly above” phrase. He is able to do exceeding abundantly above. Imagine. If you ask for a piece of bread, it will come as a whole loaf with jam and butter! And then some cheese and chutney, and all served on a golden platter. And it will be free! That is such an inadequate illustration, but I hope you get the meaning. We ask for small things when God is able to do so much more.
I know in my own life that God has blessed me above measure. I started out my Christian life with a simple desire to please Him and in return He has pleased me so much more than I could have ever pleased Him. He has granted so many answers to prayer in unimaginable ways and has made my life so much richer in the process. It is unexplainable and intangible, yet it is real, deep and precious.
I think the key to the verse is found in the last part – “according to the power that worketh in us”. The answers to prayer are not because I asked or because I had such great faith, but because of the power that is within. It is His power, not mine. He works in my life to develop a relationship. The exceeding abundantly above answers to prayer are for those who are walking with Him and who are allowing the power of God to work through them.
The Psalmist wrote, “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11) I can believe that He will work on my behalf to bring mighty answers to prayer because it is His desire to bless and use me for His glory. By taking a step of faith and asking, I get to see Him work! Nothing is beyond His ability to answer!
Can you pray this prayer with me? “Lord, let me continue to see these amazing answers to powerful prayer for Your glory alone. Let me be that channel of blessing to others. Let my life be exceeding abundantly above all that I could ever imagine according to your power that lives in me! This I ask, O Lord.”