Just ask Him! (Life as a vapor)

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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.

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1. Ask in line with God’s will

(Matthew 6:9-13):

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).

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       2. Ask humbly

(James 4:13-15):

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.

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3. Ask persistently

(Luke 11:5-12):

“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; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 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’? 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.

“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?

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4. Ask in secret

(Matthew 6:1-8):

“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. 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. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

“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. 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.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.

“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.

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Stepping off our stool to shed our old wineskin, often

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Many people come to churches, fellowship, and small groups in hopes of getting only encouragement and no down time, negativity, or humility. It’s as if we come to church, fellowship, and small groups on a pride stool and are reluctant to let ourselves be pushed off of it, although God really wants us to get off. (1 Peter 5:5-6: “…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time)

It’s much easier to walk down from our pride stool than be pushed off by others.

  1. Humility (Luke 18:14: “…for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”)

Humility is the act of having an accurate view of one’s self. Of course, the official dictionary definition is having a low view of one’s self, but when you are comparing yourself to God (instead of other people-1 Corinthians 10:12) you get humbled and, therefore, have an accurate view of yourself.

You are nothing compared to God; this is the realization we must be reminded of often in order to get ourselves off of the pride stool and the part of us that tells us we are doing an excellent job at being a Christian, because none of us are, compared to the life Jesus lived (See recent post: It’s a dog eat dog world, be a sheep!). It is primarily, and I would argue only, through this breaking down process that He can increase while we decrease (John 3:30). For how can we decrease without first getting down from our pride stool?

Just look at the prayer Jesus would rather have from us in Luke 18:9-14.

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2. Why Confession?

Confession allows us to reflect upon the sin we have in our lives and realize what we still have yet to deny ourselves in and choose God’s path instead.

Think of it this way, every time we confess and make ourselves lowly compared to God (and regain this accurate view of ourselves), we shed our old ‘wineskin’ and put on a new one. (Matthew 9:17)(Of course, I’m using a different use of the analogy than Jesus did-His was in regards to practices in the Old Testament to the New Testament)

If you went through every Sunday, quiet time, prayer, or fellowship opportunity holding onto your old wineskin (or old ways), then you would be putting new wine(God’s Word/plan/the Holy Spirit) into an old wineskin; the wineskin will break and everything new you learned in service or reading the Bible won’t stick with you-it’ll spill out.

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Why? Because we selfishly hold onto the things that we don’t want to give up to God. We want to grow closer to God without having to compensate-but it’s unrealistic and nearly impossible. After all, Jesus said we must give up all to follow Him (Luke 9:23-24).

The more we confess, the better, because we will then make ourselves (and our fleshly desires) lower. For when we are weak, He is strong. (2 Corinthians 13:9)

We must shed our old ‘wineskin’ whenever we are spending time with God. Ultimately, we want Him to fill us up with His Word and Holy Spirit and not take Him in while we are holding on to our old ways.

3. Optimistics in danger

There is a danger to be aware of. When we are optimistic, we often assume we are good people and don’t need to shed our old ways. This is entirely wrong. We are not good people when we compare ourselves to God (see post: It’s a dog eat dog world, be a sheep!) Think about if you put even the slightest amount of poison in the new wine you got. It would taint the wine and the wineskin. This is why we must shed our wineskin often. Unless we haven’t sinned in the past week, or day, or hour, then we need to shed our wineskin to be filled with the spiritually new wine that God gives through fellowship, prayer, the Word, and other believers.