Monday, March 27, 2017

Ask and You Shall Receive

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9

Have you ever wondered why we have to pray and ask God to "give us our daily bread", why Jabez had to ask God to "bless me", why Hezekiah had to pray and ask God to deliver him and his county from Assyrian invaders and why people pray and ask God for a friend's healing? I have been struck by the fact that often to receive blessing and freedom in our life requires asking God to set us free and bless us. 

This leads me to the questions, “Why wouldn't a loving, kind, all powerful, all knowing, Heavenly Father automatically do these things? Why do we even have to ask?

First, Jesus told us to ask.
When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray he taught that they should ask for their physical needs like food, relational needs like forgiveness and spiritual needs like being delivered from the evil one.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  Matthew 6:11-13
If we want what God has for us- we have to ask for it.  In Luke 11:9 records Jesus saying to his followers, "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
For many people knowing that Jesus told us to ask would be enough to answer the question “Why do we have to ask?”. I am not one of those people. Honestly, this answer reminds me of when I was a kid asking “why” and the reply, “Because I said so” would be the response.  It was never very satisfying. So if you are like me and need a little more explanation on why we need to ask, here are six more reasons.

Second, it deepens our relationship with God
The Lord’s Prayer starts with the phrase, “Our Father.” This is so important for understanding the relationship God wants to have with us.  He is our loving father.  When kids ask their parents for money to go to a concert, to get a new pair of shoes or a popular toy, it gives their parents insight into their kids’ interests and motivations.  It builds the relationship and allows the parent to be a provider, create fun memories and put limits on inappropriate stuff. God does the same for us. Luke 11:11-13 says “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Third, it humbles us
I have been blessed with intelligence, wisdom and the ability to get things done.  These blessings mean that will I try to do things on my own rather than getting God involved.  I find that my pride results in an “I don’t want to bother the big guy” attitude until I am in over my head. Humility comes when I acknowledge- I don’t know everything; past, present or future but God does. I am oblivious to what is going on in someone’s heart but God isn’t. I am limited but God is infinite. Isaiah put this beautifully in verses 5:8-9,“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Asking for God’s help and intervention gives us access to His unlimited wisdom and resources.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Fourth, so that we see the blessing
It is incredibly easy to take for granted all that God does for us, all the gifts we have been given and the blessings that surround us. One of the greatest blessings of becoming a mom was that I realized all the sacrifices and gifts my parents had given me. I had taken most of them for granted until I made the same sacrifices for my kids. In the same way, we can take all the blessings that God has given us for granted. James 1:17 states “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Asking opens our eyes to seeing God as the source of the good things in our lives.  

Fifth, it deepens our faith
God is more than just a “sugar daddy," he is the all powerful King of the Universe.  Sometimes we will find ourselves in situations that are way beyond our ability to manage. Prayer is a means of accessing all the resources of heaven. 
In 2 Kings 6:15-17, Elisha found himself in a scary and seemingly hopeless situation. “ When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
Seeing God at work in our life and other’s lives in answer to prayer gives us a glimpse of his might and resources.  Each time a prayer is answered our understanding of him grows and our faith grows as well.

Sixth, so that we value it
This weekend our grocery store had a great deal, a free package of Chips Ahoy cookie thins.  No one in our family eats Chips Ahoy but I couldn’t resist. So what if they went to waste?  They were free. Freeee! Human nature is such that we value what we work for and we often don’t value things that are free. A story about King David in 2 Samuel 24:24 captures this point, “But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
By humbling ourselves in prayer, we value the answer to prayer so much more.  This verse right before the Lord’s Prayer states “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” It is obvious from this verse that God knows what we need before we ask- He is just waiting for us to ask.

Finally, so that we give glory to God
Intrinsic in the meaning of glory is value and weightiness.  Just as you measure the value of gold by its weight, as God is glorified his weightiness is magnified. As I have pondered glory, it seems to me to be a circular thing. We are created to give God glory so he is glorified as he blesses us. His blessings show he values us just as a parent shows their love for their kids by blessing them. His blessings cause us to give him “glory for the great things he has done.” Jesus summarized this key point about asking in John 14:13, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” By asking God in Jesus name, we are bringing glory to him.  Wow! No wonder we are called to ask.  Asking in Jesus name not only blesses us and blesses the people around us, but in turn blesses God.

These are seven reasons I have found why we need to ask.  Have you found any other reasons? How has God answered your prayers so that your faith and relationship with him has grown?

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