Sometimes, my siblings and I do this dumb thing. Whenever we’ve lost something, we first go to mum.
“Muuuum I can’t find my shoeee!”
“Have you looked in your bedroom?”
“Yeah, it’s not there!”
Then, Mum will walk into our room and pick up the shoe, which is right in front of us. She’s always able to find what we’re looking for straight away. I think it’s instinctive.
Often, I think we aren’t looking properly when it comes to our relationship with God. We may yell out to God like my siblings yell out to mum. This passage from the Sermon on the Mount comes to mind.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11 (NIV)
How do we ask?
Jesus is using the present tense here, so that suggests we should be constantly asking, seeking and knocking. If you don’t, you can’t expect much. But trust that he will answer, even if we don’t understand or if it isn’t how we’d like. We just need to keep going. He won’t get tired of our constant asking as if we were nagging. God wants to help us out. He wants us to live full and abundant lives (John 10:10).
Why should we ask?
We think of God as our Father in Heaven, as often mentioned in the Sermon on the Mount, but asking him for our needs also points to his power and might and authority to meet our needs. Coming to God reminds us of his character.
When Jeremiah was confined in the king’s courtyard, God gave him a message. It began “This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it—the LORD is his name”, then he said, “Call out to me” (Jeremiah 33:2-3). Our English translation sometimes causes us to forget that God was referring to himself as the almighty, powerful, knowing, sovereign, eternal God just in saying LORD. When we pray, we need to know who we’re talking to, focusing on Our Heavenly Father instead of just our request.
What do we ask for?
Here are a few things in the Bible we can ask for:
Wisdom – (Solomon asked for wisdom when he became king) “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 1 Kings 3:9
Needs – “Give us today our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
Strength – “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Direction – “in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6
Faith – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—” Ephesians 2:8
God wants us to ask him things, to seek him out, to bring everything to him big or small. This is a part of how we build a relationship with him. It is also humbling to put our needs in his hands and to say “your will be done” (Matthew 6:10) The more you pursue God, the more you’ll find!
“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4:8