11. Prayer and Asking God

It is good and right for us to go to God to request the things we desire, and to seek his intervention in our lives. Going to God is not a weakness, and it is not self-centered or greedy. Seeking God’s provision, guidance, and involvement in our lives is something the Bible tells us to do. It is faith alone that enables our souls to even consider the possibility that the Almighty Creator of the universe and Judge of all mankind would hear and care about our prayers. It is obedient to ask God for help.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7

Knowing that God will respond to our requests will anchor our souls in his rest. When we bring our concerns to our Lord, as Paul proclaims in the verse above, “the peace of God…will guard your hearts and minds” (or, “guard your souls”). Knowing God is going to respond to our prayers will secure our soul (heart and mind). We do not pray because we are too weak to face reality. We pray because we want our Creator and Savior involved in situations and with people that are important to us. In my life I want the Almighty Creator active in the reality he has designed.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. - Hebrews 4:16

God’s nature is to respond to our requests. It is impossible for God not to respond with some form of reply. Jesus understood this and taught it when he said:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. - Matthew 7:7-8

We are held back when we do not seek, or we do not ask, or we do not knock.

It is possible that when we ask, seek, or knock we are only willing to accept one particular answer from the Eternal Almighty God. This is foolishness. Imagine a three-year-old asking for and accepting only a peanut butter sandwich when their parent is a gourmet chef. The meal options this child has are fantastic! Their parent has dedicated their life to honing the skill of preparing incredible meals. But how shallow is that child’s appreciation of their parent’s skill. As the child grows and matures they will hopefully develop the ability and palate to accept and appreciate more than a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.

A similar example could be made of a three-year-old wanting only a bowl of sugary cereal for breakfast when their parent is a nutritionist. The three-year-old’s constant demand for the unhealthy cereal, if given in to, would result in all kinds of weakness, malnutrition, underdevelopment, and anemic behavior. The list of deficiencies in that kind of poor diet is endless and would affect the child’s life for years to come. But the good parent - who also has the knowledge and wisdom of a nutritionist - would provide instead a healthy meal with correct nutrition, while also making the meal pleasant and desirable for a three-year-old. Still, all the good nutrition in the world would avail the child nothing if they did not trust their parent enough to taste the food.

The child who has a parent who is a chef or a nutritionist needs to learn that there are better options for a meal than sugary cereal and peanut butter sandwiches. Likewise, a believer who is asking the Creator of the universe ... who is seeking intervention from the Eternal God Almighty ... and who is knocking for help from the Lord and King Jesus Christ (who, remember, was willing crucified to deliver us from sin, death and damnation) ... also has something better on their menu than anything our limited “spiritual three-year-old” minds could ever comprehend.

We have all been three-year-olds, and we have all been around three-year-olds. So we can all understand how a child could develop a narrow list of “acceptable” foods. In real life, the three-year-old grows up, and their feelings about food change and develop. In the same way, it is also necessary for us to grow up spiritually and be willing to look at the larger and healthier menu the Lord has prepared for us.

So go to God. Know he will respond. And trust his answer to your prayers and requests, whatever it may be.

With this in mind, I invite you to meditate on this verse:

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. - Mark 11:24