Asking God

Have you ever met someone who struggled with the idea of asking God for things they need? Perhaps they feel that God has "more important" things to worry about. Or maybe they believe they can handle things themselves. Both attitudes reflect a form of pride: one wrapped in the subtle guise of humility; the other displaying a more flagrant self-sufficiency. They are both sourced from a misunderstanding of the goodness of God.

We have already seen that "prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will" (Westminster Shorter Catechism 98). How many of us, though, look at this kind of statement as a nice option. Maybe like car insurance; it's there when you need it, but hopefully you won't have to use it. Jesus dispels that line of thinking when he gives his disciples a model of prayer in Matthew 6. Among statements of adoration, we see personal supplication: provide for our regular, daily needs; forgive the sins we still commit; and help us escape temptation. Jesus is telling us to go to our heavenly Father for these things, and they include both the mundane elements of life (such as food and clothing) and spiritual blessings (such as sanctification and assurance).

There should be no doubt when reading your Bible that God loves to give good things to his people. He's given us salvation, Jesus' kingship, the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures, the sacraments, various ordinances in the church, and spiritual gifts. He's also given us food, rain, civil magistrates, medicine, technology, indoor plumbing, various forms of entertainment, and much more. His love for us is evident in these things, but he also displays his love by allowing us to come to him with our requests. Jesus says as much in Matthew 7 by comparing our fallible human fathers to God as our heavenly Father: "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him" (Matt. 7:11; see James 1:17)!

Jesus not only instructed us in this, but he modeled it for us as well. In the garden of Gethsemane, with the reality of the cross looming over him, Jesus prayed, "my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will" (Matt. 26:39). Jesus was fervent to do the will of his Father, yet he laid his honest request at the feet of God. Jesus has identified with us in his suffering and temptation. So "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" (Heb. 4:16). Ask, that you might receive.

Article written by Pastor Scott Winchester, Associate Pastor of Stone's Throw Church in Middletown, Delaware. 
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