Have you noticed any patterns in your life lately?
Themes concerning which God is dealing with you?
I’m in the midst of reading 2 Kings in the Bible and starting on the New Testament, beginning with the gospel of Matthew. The topics of prayer and petition has been coming up quite a bit, especially as I read the Sermon on the Mount.
Last night, I was listening to a podcast, and the speaker reminded me of this verse in James 4:2 (KJV):
“You have not because you ask not.”
It brought to mind something that happened recently.
In January, our church sang “Came to my rescue.” How I love that song (I prefer this simple version to the one generally heard). I downloaded it to my phone, as I was about to embark on a road trip.
I passionately sang as I drove down the highway, “I called, You answered, and You came to my rescue…” As I sang, God gently spoke to my heart.
“But you don’t always.”
“Wait, what?” I replied.
“You don’t always.” He gently said.
“What do you mean?” I again replied.
“You don’t call. There are times when I would have rescued you, even recently, when I would have reached out to save you, but you didn’t call.”
That just broke my heart. Especially as a parent.
A year ago, I wrote a post called “Eeyore Complex: Pooping on God’s Plan“. In that post, I wrote the following:
How would I feel if my children went whining around the neighborhood, asking for everyone else to feed them and meet their needs, but they didn’t come to me? What if they only came to me as sort of an afterthought? Like I was their 2nd or 3rd choice?
But in this case, I wasn’t running to everyone else. In this time of silence, I’m more apt to sit around, wallowing in self-pity and hopelessness, than I am to go to God first.
When God brought this to my attention on that road trip, I cried and asked God to forgive me. I repented of my pity party and acknowledged that I desperately need His help and long for Him to be my rescuer.
“You have not because you ask not.”
The Sermon on the Mount teaches us some lessons on prayer.
1. Keep it simple. The number of words or the complexity of language isn’t what convinces God to answer our prayers. Matthew 6 talks about not babbling on like the Pharisees because “your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” It gives us an example of how to pray:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
Sometimes, I just pray, “God, help” or “Holy Spirit, come.” God knows your heart and your desires. Keep it simple.
2. Be persistent. Keeping our prayers simple does not mean we can only ask once. In fact, Jesus implores us to do the opposite:
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” words of Jesus in Mt 7:7-8
I mentioned the persistent widow in this week’s Monday Morning Meditation. I also talked about reminding God of His promises, something I’m seeing a lot of in the Old Testament. We can persistently ask God to do what He has said He will do.
3. Keep it real. We can be honest with God. We can unreservedly share with Him about our fears, our doubts, even our ludicrous dreams. It’s often when I open these things up to God that He reveals to me the why and the how.
God is good. He is also mighty. He is able to handle whatever you need to share with Him.
“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” words of Jesus in Mt 7:9-11
God really does have a plan for you. You. Good things for you. Ask Him to see it come to fruition in your life. Ask Him for your needs and your desires. And trust Him for the answer, even if it’s no.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 (NIV1984)