Saturday, May 4, 2013

a little bird told me - {Wondering-Why-We-Ask}

Hello Robin,

I also have a question to ask. I have a friend who is struggling through a tough time. His mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and is facing six months of chemo and radiation with an unsure prognosis. My friend is not saved, but he is becoming curious about God and we have talked many times about him. I am praying for his salvation and willing to be used however God needs me. We have not talked in person since his mom's diagnosis, but I will be seeing him soon. 

I guess my question is personal as well as for my friend. Sometimes I'm not sure how to look at things like this. We can pray to God and release our faith for healing, but there is no guarantee that God will heal her. God only knows if he will or not. Perhaps her illness (and maybe even death??) are part of his plan to reconcile other peoples' hearts, etc. There are so many scenarios that we can't even imagine - ways in which God could use this for his glory.

When we pray and petition God, if our prayer is according to his will, then he answers, right? But if we pray and it's not according to his will, he does not answer our prayer, right? OR, more accurately, he does not answer our prayer in the WAY we ask or expect. But he always has our good at heart and I most definitely believe that. I'd rather have his good and perfect will than to receive something that is not his best for me.

I've wondered - and I bet my friend is too - why don't we just pray for god's will to be done? Why even ASK for healing? (Or whatever is going on in your life that you need) if God already knows how he is going to answer. Then I think about how we are to come boldly to his throne as His children and ask what we need to ask. The Bible says we can and should! 

I have rambled, I'm sorry! This question is one that is complex to me. I have never for one second doubted God or his goodness, but at times I feel lost in this and definitely don't have answers for someone like my friend who is struggling.

Photo Credit: Vijay Cavale

Dear Wondering-Why-We-Ask,

I love your faith! I hope you know that you bring glory to God in the way You trust Him. I definitely think you're on the right good track.  Let's explore a little more about prayer and intercession, and I pray this will help. Before I begin, let me say thank you for your courage once again.

As a foundation for intercession, when we are praying on behalf of someone else to the Judge for a favorable outcome, I think it's most important to keep this in mind: If we're only seeking God's hand, we could very well miss out on His heart; but if we are seeking God's Heart, we will wind up with what is also in His hand. Oswald Chambers says it this way:
"I asked God for the Holy Spirit, but He didn't give me the rest and peace I expected." And instantly God puts His finger on the reason - you are not seeking the Lord at all; you are seeing something for yourself. [see Jeremiah 45:5]

When we pray, it's just as simple as a conversation with God, and He desires that simple honest faith that comes when we just talk to Him from what is in our heart and thoughts. We need not complicate prayer here. But when it comes to the prayers/intercessions that God answers and is pleased to answer - I find the prerequisite to be this: ask while seeking. Pursuing hard after His presence, pressing in for the revelation of what He wants to do above all else - these are pleasing to Him. He likes to answer those kind of prayers most because they are revealing His glory and drawing His people closer to Him. And isn't that what He's always after? What His will always is - truly the bottom line.  God wants people close to Him - worshiping and following and glorifying and praising Him. The devil wants the opposite - to do whatever is necessary to distract and pull people away from God and to steal as much of His glory and power as he can, getting people to worship anything but Jesus.

In this grande scheme, where does prayer (specifically the asking part) fit in? 

We could explore the Word all day about this one topic, but I'm going to choose two verses for our purposes here.

"You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." -James 4:2b-c (NIV)

The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose." -Exodus 33:19 (NLT)

In the first passage, James encourages God's people to ask for what they need (with righteous motives) or they won't get it. In the second, God is saying that He will do whatever He deems best, no matter what.

I believe that rather than ask ourselves which is true, we need to ask God how both can be true, and how He would like us to respond as we pray.

When we're asking those kinds of questions - we're aiming for His heart, which is the revelation of His love for us and for those He loves. And as we're aiming for His heart, asking for what we think He would desire, but surrendering the decision to Him ... I believe we'll find ourselves in His hand, ready to receive His gifts of grace, blessing, healing, and goodness.

When it comes to your friend, here's what I'd recommend: tell him about Jesus, and describe His great love in your best terms, according to your experience of it. Admit that people are limited in our understanding, so only God knows what will happen in any given circumstance, but that we can trust Him to be loving and good - in the details and in the life-and-death matters. He will define love and define good, but we will be secure if we choose to surrender our lives to Him, since He surrendered His life for us. 

I also like how Oswald Chambers describes the purpose of asking:
Ask God for what you want and do not be concerned about asking for the wrong thing, because as you draw ever closer to Him, you will cease asking for things altogether. "Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him" (Matthew 6:8). Then why should you ask? So that you may get to know Him. [emphasis mine]

That, by the way my friend, was my devotion on April 27th, the day you asked!  Just another astonishing blessing I find myself in the midst of as I'm seeking His heart.  Isn't He so good?

Jesus, would You continue to guide my brother or sister into Your wisdom, peace and most importantly - Your presence? I pray that s/he will not stop asking in faith for Your will to be done, believing that You hold every answer and power in Your hand. May this dear soul be given the boldness to speak the truth in love to this friend, especially in regard to his mother, and may You give the favorable healing, in Your timing and for Your glory. Ultimately I ask that everyone involved will know You as their God and see Your power and glory on display. We were made to worship You, and when we ask and You answer, seeking You and also Your will, we all, including You, fulfill the purpose we were made for.

I pray this is helpful as you reach for Him and His answers, Dear One. Don't stop asking, seeking, and knocking ... you'll find His heart and His hand are just a prayer away.

In His Hand,


Do you have a question too, Dear Heart? Don't hesitate to ask - about life, the Bible, faith, God ... anything really. (Okay that last one was scary - but since I'm trusting Him to help me, I'll leave it.) Just post your question in the comments below, or email them to me at . I'll keep you anonymous, and you can sign your letter however you like (i.e. Curious-About-Jesus or Needing-Some-Guidance-in-Revelation).  Just put "a little bird told me" in the subject line. Won't you be brave enough to ask, too? I'll bet you're not the only one wondering!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this encouragement. I really like that your devotion for April 27 was about this very thing. God is pretty awesome. I still haven't seen my friend, but I like the instruction of aiming for God's heart, not his hand. Thanks again.