Thursday, October 7, 2010

Prayer - Asking

When you think about it, the whole point of prayer is asking - asking for help from God. I am not good about asking for help. I don't like to feel like I cannot take care of things myself. But the truth is I cannot. I am helpless. I was made to ask my creator to meet my needs, to give me my daily bread, to lead me not into temptation. God wants us to come to him with our cares.

I had my small groups at Bible study read three passages and look ponder what these passages teach and how they touch the women's lives.

- Matthew 7:7-11

- John 15:5-8

- I John 5:14-15

The basic premise of all of these passages is that God wants us to ask him. He wants us to bring our cares to Him in prayer. Philippians 4:6 - 7 says, "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." I love this passage because it tells us that when we take our cares and requests to God, we will receive His peace. Not our requests fulfilled in that moment. Not the new job or the husband. Not reconciliation with our obnoxious boss or a calm, respectful attitude from our child. The passage says when we take our cares to God we receive His peace.

I love what Paul Miller wrote in "A Praying Life", "Anxiety is unable to relax in the face of chaos; continuous prayer clings to the Father in the face of chaos. My life is often full of chaos and anxiety. I can easily get overwhelmed by what is before me. At that point I get to choose whether to live in the anxiety or trade it in for God's peace through prayer.

I want to bring all my requests before God. There is a part of me that still holds onto those false fears that I can't pray because I don't know what God's will is in this situation. Or that if I pray the wrong thing, God might give me what I want, which will be wrong because it was not what He wanted to do in my life. I have a few weird beliefs about prayer that need to be challenged. But the passages above and throughout the Bible make it clear that God wants to hear my prayers asking for His help. There is power in these prayers even if I don't know how it all works. I know that over time, as I spend more time in His word and in prayer, my requests will begin to align themselves more and more quickly with God's will. Until then, I will pray knowing what Packer and Nystrom wrote in "Praying." "God reserves the right to answer the prayer we should have made rather than the one we did make."

I loved this poem:

Paradox of Prayer
He asked for strength that he might achieve;
He was made weak that he might obey.
He asked for health that he might do greater things;
He was given infirmity that he might do better things
He asked for riches that he might be happy;
He was given poverty that he might be wise.

He asked for power that he might have the praise of men;
He was given weakness that he might feel the need of God.
He asked for all things that he might enjoy life;
He was given life that he might enjoy all things.
He has received nothing that he asked for, but all that he hoped for.
His prayer is answered.

Our prayers are always answered. Just not always how we expected.


  1. Hmmmmm... I'm not sure I agree. I have nothing brilliant to say except that when I hear others pray, and there's someone that you get the feeling really *gets* prayer - they do so little asking. So much more of what they're doing seems to be...well...reminding themselves and us I suppose on who God is, on his nature. I guess that's a very self-centric view of things. Really I should say they're praising God - putting themselves in right relationship/position to Him it feels like.

    Does any of that rambling make sense?

  2. Sarah - I personally really struggle with asking God for pretty much anything. And yet, when I read the scriptures I referenced here and also the prayers in the epistles they are all about asking God for his help. I think the key comes down to making sure we are abiding in him, that we are praying for His will to be done, that our requests are intended to glorify God. I don't like being an asker but Jesus tells us to ask both in the Matthew passage and also in the Lord's prayer. At Gesthemene Jesus asked for the cup to be taken from him but God's will be done. It is not an easy thing to ask God. Real asking is not making a list for Santa with all our hopes and dreams on it. Real asking requires a submission of our will to his and an acknowledgment that we need help. Hope this makes more sense. Since these prayer posts accompany a Bible study the women at our church are doing, I did make the assumption that these women are seeking God and not just making wish lists of how their life can be better.

  3. Totally totally. I didn't mean to say we should never ask. I just mean that I tend to be rather direct. Dear God, help me with this, the end. And I don't think that's what we see biblically. And that's not what I hear from my 'praying' friends.

    Not that we manipulate and put a request in between a certain amount of other statements - but that it's just about so much more than asking.