The Power of the “Ask Not” Prayer
Is “Ask, and it shall be given unto you” one of your favorite scriptures (Matthew 7:7)?
Oh, the many “blessings” that danced in our heads when we as followers of Christ heard that glorious proclamation. Needs mixed with wants topped off with our fleshly desires seemed fair game, no? We could even cite another verse that declares “Whatever we ask in Jesus’ name, He will do it.” (John 14:13)
Whatever means whatever, right?
Team, here’s where speed-dating God gets us in trouble. We can’t run off with every Bible verse that says “ask”, and not take heed to the verses that explain “how” to ask and “what” to ask for. If we do, we’ll find ourselves disappointed and our minds fertile for the enemy to seed doubt and discontent.
But, be not deceived! The Word of God is true – yes, you can ask. But God is intentional, driven solely by His will and what brings Him glory. God expects us to think, act, and pray according to His standard.
Why Are We Praying For _________?
The answer lies at the heart of our motives and intentions. It takes truth and transparency to see whether we are truly in need and in the proper position (ie. God’s will) for receiving.
How will you use what you have received? How will you honor what God gives you through others? Will the answered prayer find a purposeful place in your life?
As you ponder these questions, think about the following categories of things we should stop praying for today:
1. Things that cost us nothing.
There may not be a one-to-one exchange for the things we pray for, and that’s okay. But do you put any skin in the game when you pray that others will give you something? Sure, a ride to work may cost a friend more than the $5 in your pocket, but do you offer gas money? Yes, you want and need the raise, but have you been faithful with little by showing up to work on time, completing your work in excellence, being a model team member?
Gratefulness costs – it costs you the acknowledgment and time to say “thank you” or show God and others appreciation. Even though God is a loving Father who often tolerates His ungrateful children, it’s oh so much better to pray, receive, and pay up with a “thank you”, your worship, or committed service to God.
2. Things we already have.
Remember how grateful and excited you were to receive X? You prayed long and hard, thought it would never happen – but God! And now, you still have X, but you’re praying for an X, really?
Are you praying for another spouse, and you’re married? Do you have nice, reliable transportation, but you’re praying for a car you honestly can’t afford? Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, wallets, and character! Don’t lose your excitement and gratefulness for God’s blessings. Seek His heart for if and when it’s time to receive more or different.
3. Things that other people have.
The desires of our heart should match God’s heart-desires for us. But, many of us spend more time drooling and desiring what others have than we do chasing after God’s heart. And here’s the kicker: God is often very gracious to bless us with UN-answered prayers.
Because we pray amiss – e.g. outside of God’s will for us – God protects us from our self-centered desires by not letting those requests see the light of day. We’re also spared the struggle and heartache it cost others to receive their blessings. Sorry, you cannot have someone else’s ______. What God has for you is for you. Desire God’s will above your wants.
4. Opportunities and chances we have no intention of honoring.
Now, this is where truth and transparency get real. Once you receive all that you’ve asked for, are you really in a position to “make good” on the answered prayer? Will you honor that second chance in a relationship, that loan for $1000 and pay it back as agreed, the promotion for which you know you’re not qualified?
If you’re not ready to honor the opportunities and chances God can give or that others work hard to give you, then it’s time to stop praying for them – and pray for the character to support the prayer.
So, What’s The Play Call?
“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:3).
Ask God to give you His desires for you. Then, when you pray, God will see His heart and will, and gladly honor your request.
So, have you ever had to catch yourself, and STOP praying for something?