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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ask, but only in the right position

No doubts - wouldn't this be a good way to live our lives?  To be in a place where every decision we make is perfectly certain, not tainted with worries or anxiety.  Is this even possible?  I don't know about you, but the closer I walk to Jesus, the more certain I am of my decisions and the less anxious I am to ask for the things I might need more than a little help with.  In fact, I find the things I desire to do and the things I desire for others in my life are much closer to the way God wants to do things the closer I am walking to him.  The further away I get from him, the more uncertainties enter into the picture.  Therefore, I can assume from this that getting right up close and personal with Jesus is the very best means of avoiding some of the foolish things I may decide on my own!

We can come to God with no doubts. This means that when we ask God for things (and those things agree with what God wants for us), God cares about what we say. He listens to us every time we ask him. So we know that he gives us whatever we ask from him. (I John 5:14-15 ERV)

Based on the finished work of Christ, and the fact we place our hope, faith, and trust in this finished work when we say "yes" to Jesus, we can stand assured as we approach God.  I daresay we approach God from a little bit of a selfish vantage point at first - with those "me", "me", "me" requests.  As we draw closer and closer to him, we find that "me" takes on less and less importance - we want to know what it is he wants for others around us, as well.  We see our focus expanding because this is just part of being close to Jesus - we begin to see things as he sees them.

At first, we don't always get this "asking" thing right.  We might ask for things which are not really in our best interest - kind of like the kid faced with 100 varieties of candies in the candy shop and being told he has "access" to all of them.  The first thing he does is load up on his favorites, then he has to have a little more of this, that, and the next one, just because he can.  Another important thing I have come to realize in my walk with Jesus is just because "I can" doesn't mean it is the right timing, place, or purpose in my life at the moment. 

The good news is really not that we "can ask", but that God helps us to clarify what it is we ask for.  He also doesn't turn a deaf ear to our requests, even when they may not be in our best interest at the moment.  He is listening to what we say and he does so each and every time - even when we repeatedly ask for the stuff he has said "no" to in the past.  I don't know about you, but I have little guys in my life who often ask for the same stuff I said "no" to in the past.  They kind of think I might just change my mind somewhere down the road, or perhaps they can wear me down if they just keep asking.

The truth is, we sometimes do the same thing to God.  We ask repeatedly for stuff he has said "no" or "not now" to in our lives.  I think we might just hope he will somehow be "worn down" by our persistence!  I guess it should come as no surprise to me that we do this because it is human nature.  The good news is that God isn't afraid to say "no" or "not now" whenever he knows what we ask for isn't in our best interest, or is based on timing which is inappropriate for us. 

Some new believers latch onto this passage early in their walk, thinking God gives us "everything" we ask for.  I want to caution us against such a belief.  If we examine this passage again carefully, there is a condition to the asking/receiving part of this promise.  When we draw close enough to God to understand his will for our lives, our prayers align with his will - he gives us what we ask.  The condition is our "position" in relation to receiving.  Get close to him and your asking changes a whole lot.  Draw further away and the asking reverts to the selfish type we are all prone to drift into now and again.  Just sayin!