Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession. (Psalm 2:8)
Relate: I don’t often get interrupted when I am praying. Even if someone else in my hearing might not be in “agreement” with what I am praying, I honestly can’t remember anyone stopping me mid prayer. I have had people come say something afterwards. I have even had someone pray pretty much the opposite as soon as I was done. But I can only remember one time being interrupted mid prayer.
“OK, OK stop. Just… stop.” My voice tapered off and I looked up sheepishly at my professor. I say sheepishly because I wasn’t really sure what the protocol was here. There were five or six of us all together in a group and we were all praying over some current event or situation. Honestly, I can’t remember what it was now. I just remember looking up at my professor who was waiting for me to make eye contact. As soon as I did he continued, “Just ask Him for what you need. You don’t need to apologize for asking something you believe is in His will and you certainly don’t need to hedge your prayer with all those ‘maybe, possibly, if it is Your will.’ Ask Him boldly. If He says no, He says no. But if you keep praying like that, you’ll never get anything.” With that my professor closed his eyes, ducked his head, and waited for me to get on with a real prayer.
React: I learned an important lesson that day. James says, we don’t have because we do not ask. James also says when we ask we must not doubt. Hebrews says let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence. Then here in Psalms we read, “Ask and I will give the nations as Your inheritance.” When I was praying that day, I didn’t believe God was going to answer. I didn’t want to pray bold because if I didn’t get the answer I was asking for, it might reflect bad back on me. I was hedging my prayer to cover my doubts and protect from disappointment.
I still tend to do that. When I first moved to Istanbul, I felt God was asking me to pray a big prayer that has never been seen in a Muslim country. He gave me a number and a time. Every time I heard the local Mosques ringing out their call to prayer, I was to ask God for it. It is hard to pray something 4-5 times a day that in my flesh I don’t ever think will happen. It is hard to pray specifically for someone’s complete healing while they are dying. It is even harder when you have prayed for others in the past… and still they died.
But then I remember the simple prayer that was prayed over me one afternoon. “God, I don’t think You want him to have asthma anymore. Please heal him. Amen.” That was it. I didn’t believe it one bit. But that was nearly two years back and I have had multiple opportunities to see how God has completely healed me. Goodness, I’ve woken up to find a cat sleeping on my chest. It was a simple prayer, but it was a big bold specific prayer. What will I be praying for in 2016? How about you? How much bigger do we need to make our ask?
Like the epileptic’s father, God, I come to You saying ‘I believe, help my unbelief.’ I know that I know that I know that You can do whatever I ask. I just have some problems sometimes with whether You will. Give me the courage to pray bigger. Give me the audacity to ask bigger and then leave it in Your hands. Help me to avoid that tendency to hedge my prayers as a means of protecting myself from disappointment. Help me this year to expect more and ask bigger from You. Don’t let me dishonor You with the same weak, visionless requests.