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Our culture has become very adept at learning how to ask for what we want. Diplomacy, hostage negotiations, and compromise are all based on exacting the maximum benefit for the minimum cost. Business deals and even wish lists for Santa are meticulously designed to ask for more than we think we will get in hopes of getting as much as possible. We try to “work smart” and “put our best foot forward” to give ourselves the advantage.

Sometimes we unconsciously ask for things we don’t want. My mother used to accuse us of asking for a spanking. Certain behaviors or unwise choices may mean that you are asking for trouble.

What you ask for, intentionally or not, makes a difference in what you receive, especially in your relationship with God. The Bible is full of examples of people asking God for things. Moses asked to know God’s name. David asked for forgiveness. Solomon asked for wisdom. Samson asked for one last chance. Hannah asked for a baby. Esther asked for a plan. Gideon asked for reassurance. The Hebrew people asked over and over for deliverance from the consequences of their disobedience. The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray.

I have just finished a wonderful book by Mark Batterson called The Circle Maker. God used this book to convict my heart that what I ask for in my prayers is too generic and vague. Maybe my prayers are too small because I don’t want to commit my dream to God…I don’t want to bother him, I don’t want to put identifiable boundaries on it that will actually show progress, or I might be disappointed when his answer is not what I wanted. My prayers are often too small because I’m afraid that a radical faith will give God free reign in my life. When I can mark off a place, an issue, a goal a person, or a dream and let my complete honesty precede my complete submission to God’s will, when I can absolutely share my big dreams and goals and lay them at God’s feet and honestly say to him, “Help me know what to do with these”, my vulnerability and weakness intersects with the power of the Almighty God. When our honesty with him finally lines up with his will for us, we unleash his power to put us in the position to see him at work in our lives and in our world.

God is not a genie that will grant us all that we ask; he is not a fairy godfather that is dedicated to making us happy every moment of our lives. He is God. He seeks what is best for us, not our constant pleasure and entertainment. He knows the future, and he knows us. He knows our hopes and fears and dreams and our weaknesses and pain. But the most important part is that he unconditionally loves us anyway. His desire is for our good and for us to know him.

Ask him for his presence; he’s promised it to you. Ask him to give you wisdom and vision for what is to come; he’s promised it to you. Ask him for the joy that he came to give you; ask him for the desires of his heart, so that you may see his power and plan. Trust the one who always hears, always sees and never gives up on you…he asked you to.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

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