But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. ~James 1:5 NASB
“It never hurts to ask!” I remember my dad saying many times as a young child. “All they can say is no, and you’re no worse off than when you started!”
It sounds great in theory.
But it’s hard to ask sometimes, isn’t it?
I remember putting this mantra into practice once by asking my dad for more allowance. He took me to a “fancy” restaurant (I remember ordering baked potato soup) and I took out a piece of paper that scribbled out all the “expenses” I had. I then presented what I thought was a reasonable “raise” in my allowance.
I remember being nervous, palms sweaty as I explained my well prepared document.
“Okay,” he said calmly, going back to his meal.
Now that I’m a parent, I realize how wonderful it is to give good gifts to our children. At the time, I thought, what?! That’s it? You’re not going to ask me a bunch of questions? Maybe it really does pay off to ask! Wait a second, it can’t be this simple! I surely must need to do something more or work harder or be better or… Something!
Another time, I asked my parents if I could join a swim team 30 miles away from our home. Since I couldn’t drive yet and practices were twice a day, not to mention there were two other kids in our family who also had activities, they knew this was not the right move for our family. This time, the answer was no.
I cried and cried about that one. All my friends were going there! Why oh why couldn’t I go too?! I shouldn’t have even asked, I thought. I knew they’d say no.
Sometimes I carry those thoughts into my relationship with God, too. I hesitate to ask, because I think He’s just going to say no. Or, when He says yes, I think it can’t really be that simple. I must have to do something or be better or work harder! Yes, asking is hard sometimes. When I journal out my prayers or when I’m speaking them out loud– it’s a vulnerable place to be. I hear myself asking for something I want. Sometimes I feel foolish asking for something for myself. It’s so obvious what I’m asking for– when I’m writing it down in a journal it’s written right there on paper for me to read and re-read! What if I have to look back and see NO between the lines? It feels like some form of rejection in a way, and who wants to deal with that? Maybe I could just ease around the semantics and just infer what I’m asking for would just be nice to have. That’s much less disappointing when it doesn’t turn out.
You know what I see when I type all this out?
And then I must remind myself that I am made, created, fashioned, DESIGNED in God’s image. Are these character traits of the Most High God?
You can ask.
I can ask.
We can come before the throne of God with confidence, since we have a God who knows our weaknesses (Hebrews 6:15). For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7)!!!!! Yes, He may say no. That does not negate our request. We learn just as much about God through His no’s as much as His yes’s. There is a story being told, and He works everything for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Fear does not belong where He is!
I was recently reading a blog of a childhood friend who is now a nurse in Haiti. One of the children in the organization where she worked was having a hard time getting a visa so that he could be adopted, and her brother in-law was unjustly arrested and put in prison. I love her take on what she imagined God was trying to tell her during that difficult time:
I hear your prayers, every one. I listen and the injustices in the world break my heart; my compassion wells up for you. I will answer your prayers, every one. But I will not do it in the way you expect me to and I will not do it when you think the time is right. I know exactly what is needed and when. I know when the sea must part to swallow the armies closing in behind you. I know when you need only to hear me whisper in the breeze. Trust me. Trust me to know what is best. Trust me to do what is best because of my great love for you. Trust me. ~If This Life I Lose
We’ve got to believe that God knows what He’s doing. He knows when the sea must part for us and He knows exactly when to close it back up. He knows why He’s asking you to build that impossible ark, and it’s for a perfect reason. Like the man who saw his son immediately healed in Mark 9, I say the same “help me with my unbelief!” so that I might get a glimpse of the greater story being written.
So let go of your fear.
Release your unbelief.
Approach His throne with confidence, and ask.
It’s okay… You can ask.
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. ~Matthew 7:7-8