We have the freedom to ask for all things. Let us approach prayer with humility, and receive the gifts provided.
For years, I could not ask the Lord for anything. Sure, there were many prayers, as in conversations, with the Lord. I would tell Him what was hurting my heart, and thank Him for blessings. The most I would ever ask for was peace, or patience. These were safe to pray for, the Bible promises that we will receive this. Promise? Sweet! I’ll ask for that! That way I’m sure to never deal with disappointment.
See, I had lived through disappointment. I was 24 when my mom died. We were finally getting to the sweet stage of life where we were becoming friends. My family said so many prayers, begging, and pleading. And it was looking like she was going to survive, only for our hopes to be left in a heap of shards.
I didn’t walk away from that experience doubting the existence of God. I could definitely see His hand on the whole situation. My faith was in Him, not the outcome of prayer. No, I walked away in definite awe of His power. It was that power, however, that left me not able to ask for anything. My thought was, since God is all-powerful, and He knows what is best, then why should I ask for anything. I’ll just go along for the ride. He will do what He needs to do, I’ll do what I need to do, and surely we will meet up at certain points along the way.
Years after that, living through experiences where I just couldn’t see what was taking Him so long to come through, I kinda just stopped talking. My prayer was simply to sit in His presence; neither one of us saying anything. Sure, there were moments when I was angry (actually, there were quite of few of those), but it was also comforting. I never doubted He was there. I never stopped loving Him, and I know His love never ceased for me.
This past 6 months has been like a crash course on prayer for me. I went from asking for nothing, to asking for everything! But let me tell you, it is a fine line between asking and demanding. I may have crossed it a time or two. Eek.
Humility to Ask
Yes, we are told to come boldly before for the throne, but if for a moment we believe we have a right to be there, we are deceived. Only after we acknowledge that we do not deserve to be there, and that it is by invitation we are there, may we ask with confidence. We can ask with confidence, not that we will get what we ask for, but confident that we have the freedom to ask because we have the invitation to do so.
…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift…
Romans 3:23-24, ESV
When we can see ourselves as the sinful people we are, who do not deserve a single blessing, then we appreciate the gift of the invitation. In this posture, it is humbling to ask for anything.
Humility to Receive
After we ask, and make our request known, it also takes humility to receive the provision. How often do we long for others to help, only to refuse when the offer is given. It is nothing more than pride that causes us to behave in this ridiculous manner. We want to experience the generosity of others, but then do not accept the help because we want all the control.
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, ESV
With humility, we are able to accept whatever answer is given. If our prayer was answered in the manner we hoped, then we know we cannot take credit for the outcome; God receives all the praise. If the answer was yes, but in a different way we thought, then we can see that God knew how to better accomplish His plan.
Some things to consider if the answer was “no”. First, we may need to simply trust that He is moving in a different direction, or on a different timeline. Or, secondly, it may be due to sin that we need to repent of. Please be careful here. Let us not act sorrowful in an attempt to manipulate God so that we receive the blessing. Trust me, this doesn’t work. I’ve tried. We must truly want God alone, not the blessings.
The Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? Israel has sinned;
Joshua 7:10-11, ESV
Without humility, we come to the Lord with demands, not requests. We are not praying, “Lord your will be done.” We are demanding He follow our plans. We have placed ourselves on the throne, and this a dangerous place to be.
I am learning to ask. And when I ask, I ask for big things, because I have an invitation to do so. And when I ask, it is not a demand, but a genuine request.
“Lord, it is humbling to be invited into your presence. I don’t know if it’s part of your plan, but if it is, would you please…”
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