“Ask and it will be given to you.” Matthew 7:7
In seeking prayer we seek God for who He is; in knocking prayer we persistently knock for the influence of the Holy Spirit on others; and in asking prayer we ask for our own needs. Jesus said we didn’t need to use many words in asking prayer because “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” If He already knows, why ask? God wants us to get to know His generosity and love through answered prayer, and He strategically uses delays in answers to refine our character.
Believing is especially central to asking prayer. Jesus said, “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22) Believing what? Believing that God will give it exactly when and how you want it? Or do we simply believe God is good; He hears our prayer and He will answer it in His own way and in His own time? Martin Luther believed it was the latter:
“We are to lay our need before God in prayer but not prescribe to God a measure, manner, time, or place. We must leave that to God, for He may wish to give it to us in another, perhaps better, way than we think is best. Frequently we do not know what to pray as St. Paul says in Romans 8, and we know that God’s ways are above all that we can ever understand as He says in Ephesians 3. Therefore, we should have no doubt that our prayer is acceptable and heard, and we must leave to God the measure, manner, time, and place, for God will surely do what is right.” (Devotional Classics; pg 117)
A couple of months ago I was praying about a frustrating situation and instructing God exactly when He needed to have this problem fixed by, and if not, I was going to have to do something drastic. After I was done with my little tirade, I heard a one word whisper in my mind that I believe was the Holy Spirit speaking: “Really?” I was instantly repentant of my attitude. I’m not going to take over; I’m going to wait for God’s timing and allow the process to refine my soul.
Ephesians 3:20 is a verse that gives God a lot of latitude in how He answers prayer: “God is able to do far above all you ask or think…” We don’t have to ask perfectly or even think of how God might do it; our part is to pray with childlike faith and trust that our God will take it from there. Ask and it will be given to you.