There’s a lot of controversy between if following Jesus is something we do or something the Father does. Well, which is it!? We have to recognize that countless times in Scripture, when God wants to give us something, all He wants us to do is ask!
Asking is a humble thing to do, it’s realizing we are inadequate on our own and need God desperately. That’s what it takes to ask God for something, because if we aren’t humble, that is, realize that we are, in fact, a vapor compared to God, we probably won’t ask Him for something wholeheartedly. Jesus knocks at our door and when we accept Him into our lives, He then lets us knock on His Father’s door through Him and the Spirit (Revelation 3:20-21, Romans 8:26-27). Let’s consider all the ways God wants us to ask for something.
1. Ask in line with God’s will
“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.Your kingdom come.Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
This is how Jesus taught the disciples to pray, so it could be said that asking in line with God’s will is top priority (see also 1 John 5:14). But how do we figure out what God’s will is? Read through the 4 Gospels and the Book of Acts to get an excellent idea of how to ask in line with God’s will. It is interesting and important to note that Jesus doesn’t tell us to spend all our time figuring out God’s will, just ask for it to be done. Some of the first churches certainly knew how to do this and saw God work in pretty amazing ways (see Acts 12:3-11).
2. Ask humbly
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
Realizing what we’re like in comparison to God is important lest we take up the philosophy “ignorance is bliss”. If we think we are more than a vapor, all we’re doing is fooling ourselves into pride, when actually, we are more significant when we put on Christ. The only way to clothe ourselves with Christ is to realize we need Him (Romans 13:14). We are so vapor-like that we don’t even know what’s going to happen tomorrow, when God sees the whole scheme of things for eternity. Therefore, we should ask in line with God’s will since He knows all.
3. Ask persistently
“And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? 8 I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?”
There can be differing viewpoints on this passage, but if you pray for something consistently that is apart from God’s will, will His will not be done? Of course it will be done! It’s that we get the privilege of being a part of God’s will when we ask in line with it. It’s not like we are predestined to do everything God wants us to do (although He certainly knows what we’re going to choose to do); but wouldn’t you rather do what God wants you to do than what you want to do?
4. Ask in secret
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
Asking in secret is all about the heart. If someone goes to church and prays in the sanctuary with many people around before or after service, usually it is so that they can convince the other people around that they are a ‘good Christian’; though the Christians following Christ realize they are bad and realize they are even more bad throughout their lifetime because they discover more sin in their life. This is an advantage! In Luke 7, we learn that he who is forgiven much loves much, so the more sin we learn that Jesus has taken for us, the more we’ll love Him. Although our Father knows the things we have need of before we ask Him, often times, He chooses to wait for us to ask Him, so prayer really does make a difference! In 1 Samuel 1, Hannah conceives a son when she prays. God’s will still could have been done if she didn’t pray, but He chose to act when she prayed. We see this in Matthew 13 when Jesus chooses not to do many mighty works in His hometown because of their unbelief. Of course He could have healed if they didn’t believe, but He chose not to. We see that many times, it’s the same with prayer, because God will do everything He can to use our efforts for His glory.