Reasoning together with God
We are told rather bluntly in James 4:2-3, …. "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." These words are lived out in the opening exclamation of Psalm 4:1, “Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.”
Asking God in praying for our needs and desires must live into the “practical mystery” of praying.
In God’s goodness, the world is susceptible to your praying. God makes your praying and your actions responsible for real outcomes in history.
AND AT THE SAME TIME,
God constantly maintains control of history, leading it into God’s good future.
Be bold in asking God for your desires. As Jesus tells you in Luke 11:9-10 to “Ask, seek, and knock.”
Be learning to trust in God’s wisdom and will. As Jesus teaches you to pray each Sunday: we pray that “God’s kingdom come, God’s will be done here on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Pray to God for your DESIRES
Desires that fulfill both 1) your desires AND 2) God’s will and wisdom. But, how do you know when your desires are also in God’s will and in God’s wisdom. In truth, you cannot always know. So, you begin by reasoning with God why what you desire is indeed:
Best in light of what you know about God from the Scriptures.
Best for you.
Best for others.
Best for God’s work in our world.
Pray TRUSTING in God’s will and wisdom.
Pastor and writer Tim Keller writes, “Therefore, as a guard against both selfish motives as well as shortsightedness we ask God to fulfill our requests with things ‘agreeable to his will.’” When you sense God is not answering or seeming to answer, “no,” can you still pray from your heart, “God, your will be done?” If not, then you would do well to ask God for greater faith in God’s will and timing.
Be open to God TRANSFORMING your heart and mind in prayer.
As you ask God in prayer, you may find that your desires are in fact rivals to your love for God. There may be sin in your life that keeps God from answering your prayer. Here, God may be trying to re-shape your heart.
Before praying, take time to think THEOLOGICALLY and SELF-REFLECTINGLY.
You would do well to look into your own heart, the core of who you are, being brutally honest about your love for God and what other loves compete with your love of God.
Then think deeply about who God is (that’s thinking “theologically”) from the Bible. This takes time and great effort.
God wants us to ask and to trust him by asking:
Ask for YOURSELF
Pray that God would give you your “daily bread.”
Ask God to help you spend your time and money and energy in ways that will see “God’s kingdom come and God’s will be done.”
Pray for strength to resist sin and to seek God.
Ask for OTHERS
Pray for people near to you and in the larger world.
For family and friends.
For people God brings into your sphere who are hurting or in some difficulty.
Pray for those who are sick or struggling emotionally.
Pray for people you know who have yet to believe in Jesus.
Pray for the church and its leaders.
Pray that the church would help believers become more like Jesus and would help connect those who have yet to believe to Jesus.
Waiting PATIENTLY on God
In asking God in praying, you are learning to be patient on God’s timing and on God’s wisdom.
“Complain” about PAIN and INJUSTICE
Complain to God about your own and other’s:
Suffering, injustice and persecution, about not finding a safe place to live, about being caught in the cross fire of war, or about being unable to provide enough for family.
Debilitating injuries and illness or being caught in the grasp of mental illness.
Pain of being abandon by family or betrayed by a spouse or parent.
Keller writes, “This is the prayer of someone in suffering and difficulty, who is wresting with God’s will, perhaps questioning God’s ways, and seeking to understand and endure.”
Your friend in praying,
picture: thanks to jack_sharp on unsplash.