I was talking with a friend recently about how reluctant she is to ask God for things. Me, I’m a terrible nagger, and nothing is too trivial for me to pray about, from the common cold to parking spots. But I often forget to ask for things that really matter, from big things like the growth of God’s kingdom to little things like daily help with my anxieties and ungodliness.
So why don’t we ask God for things? Here are some possibilities.
- Our requests seem too trivial to bother him with.
- We’re protecting ourselves from disappointment and doubt.
- We feel like we’re being discontented, selfish or greedy.
- We assume our prayers can’t affect his sovereign plan.
- We think we can handle it ourselves.
- We assume he is unwilling or unable to help.
So why ask God for things—even trivial things, even things we’re uncertain he wants us to have?
As I talked with my friend, I realized that asking is a step towards relationship, not a step away from it. It’s better to ask and deal with our disappointment and doubt if God says no than never to ask anything at all—at least we’re dealing with God, not ignoring him! Asking is an expression of dependence: when we ask, we rely on God rather than ourselves.
After all, God has these things to say about prayer:
- We are to continually pray in all kinds of situations to him (Eph 6:18; 1 Thess 5:16-18).
- When we ask, we’re treating God as a Father who loves to meet our needs (Matt 7:11).
- Asking results in receiving (Luke 11:9-10; 1 John 5:14-15).
- Our prayers are part of God’s sovereign plan, even if we can’t understand how (Jas 5:16).
- He wants us to pour out our needs and our hearts to him (as the Psalms show).
- Asking is the solution to anxiety (Phil 4:6).
- He promises to listen attentively to our prayers (Ps 34:15).
As we grow, our prayers will grow bigger too; but God wants us to come as we are, trusting he will hear us, like children to their father, bringing both our big and small concerns to him.