Did you ever stop to consider why the God of the Universe, the one who made all things and knows all things, requires us to ask for whatever it is we need or want? It seems contradictory to who he is, doesn't it? To have to ask when he knows already seems kind of foolish on the surface, but if you stop to consider what "asking" entails, you may come to a revelation of the true purpose of asking. You see, asking requires us to humble ourselves, not to mention allow for a clarification of our wants and needs. Have you ever sought one thing, only to find when you received it the "thing" did not do for you whatever you hoped it would? I have and it was then that I realized just how much I didn't really need what I asked for - it was just something to "fill space" in my life, but that "space" really should have been occupied by something else (or someone else).
This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’ (Jeremiah 33:2-3 MSG)
Asking is a process - not a one-time thing, but a developing process. To truly understand what is behind our "asking", we have to understand the process:
- It entails us having either a want or a need. The difference is that one of these is sort of like icing on a cake. Cake alone is good, but put the icing on it and it is great. A need is like the cake - it provides what will bring satisfaction. The want is like the icing - it provides that little bit of "wow" into our lives which we long for in some way.
- It involves knowing the difference between the two. As long as we are confused as to the difference between a want and a need, we will constantly be asking for our wants rather than our needs. A steady diet of icing will only put us on sugar-overload! Although there may be a little "high" from having the want met (just like you get from a sugar high - that sudden burst of energy), it is short-lived and soon we are "let down" by it (as when your body adjusts to having expended that short-lived energy boost). What we need is what will sustain us for the long-haul.
- It requires us to be humble enough to ask. This is often the place of "rub" in our lives. We will do almost anything in our own effort BEFORE we ask for help! It isn't until we have failed to bring about what it is we need that we humble ourselves enough to ask. What is up with that? I think it is our humility God may be after in this "asking" thing - because he wants us to learn to rely upon another, not just ourselves. Too many of us start out thinking we cannot be "dependent" upon anyone for our "success" in life. In time, God will bring all of us to the same conclusion - life lived "independent" of his care and protection is just not life lived to its fullest!
- It begins with us putting into words whatever it is we have need of. This is the second biggest "rub" in this process because we often have a hard time articulating what it is we need. We just cannot find the words to express it - or we just plain don't know. I think this is why Jesus tells his disciples that they can rely upon the Holy Spirit to give them utterances even they don't understand themselves. Just because we don't know how to put into words what we have need of doesn't mean God doesn't need to hear from us - he provides the Holy Spirit to "utter those inner needs" directly into the ear of our heavenly Father.
- It calls for us to be open to hearing. Therein is the next "rub" in this process of asking - for it is much easier to speak about what we need and then so very hard to be quiet long enough to actually hear how it is God might plan for us to have that need met! Part of asking is being quiet - putting the need out there and then resting in our position of humble waiting. Waiting is not the strong-suit for many of us - me included. So, this process of waiting and listening is difficult and requires sometimes more of us than the actual "asking" does in the first place! Yet, it is the part of the process where we get clarity and begin to see God at work in our lives. Apart from hearing, we have just "us" in the picture! Hearing allows God to be "brought in"! Just sayin!