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Ask and Receive

I was reading through 1 Kings chapter 3 the other day. It's the chapter where Solomon asks God for wisdom and amongst other things that I will get into in a moment, I found it interesting that the actual wording is Solomon asked for, "a discerning heart to govern Your people and to distinguish between right and wrong." A very specific request to fit a very specific need as king.

But what gets me when I read it was how God responded. Our God is so gracious and so amazing. Since Solomon from a place of humility and faith in God, God said that since he did not ask for a long life or wealth and asked for the death of his enemies, He will give him what he asked. He will give him a wise and discerning heart. The fact that God was even like I'll give you what you ask is a gift to Solomon in and of itself. God is so good like that. This interaction reminds me of what Jesus said in Mark. Mark writes in 11:24 that Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." And then later James writes, "You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you asked with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." Solomon could have asked for wealth or power to kill his enemies or a long life. He could have asked for something that would feed his worldly desires and passions. Instead, he saw a need that he could not fulfill on his own within his kingdom. He humbled himself before God by saying he is like a child and knows he doesn't have the wisdom or discernment to give sound justice and judgement to his people during their disputes and asked that God would fill that need for him. A need that serves others and serves the kingdom of God. And because God is so good, he gives him wisdom and discernment "so that there will never have been anyone like him, nor will there ever be."

But then God takes it a step further because, again, He's so gracious and amazing like that. Within the next verse He goes on to tell Solomon that He will also give him what he did not ask for. He would give him wealth and honor. Solomon would have no equal among the kings. God also says, "if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life." All Solomon asked for was wisdom and discernment and what does God give him in return? He gives him both of those things and then heaps so much more upon him because God loves us and delights in His people. He loved and delighted in Solomon because of his humility, faith and obedience in Him.

I don't know... just reading that whole chapter blew my mind a little bit. You hear Jesus talking about how all you have to do is ask and believe and God will give it to you. Before Solomon even asks for discernment or wisdom do you know what happened? God came to him in a dream. This whole conversation was happening in a dream. Solomon didn't just go before God and ask for this. God sought him out and said to him in the dream, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." He is so willing and so loving. He seeks us out and says ask for whatever you want me to give you. I've heard sermons and read verses about how you shouldn't use God as a genie, granting your every whim and desire. From what I gather from those verses and sermons and then chapter 3 of 1 Kings is that God will give you what you ask as long as you have faith, humility and are obedient to Him. Ask for what does not feed into the desires of the world and your flesh, but what would further your relationship with Him, further His kingdom and fill a need within yourself. If God was just a good God though, that's all He would do. Those would be the only instructions. Only ask for things that further the kingdom or fill a need or grow your relationship with Him. But our God isn't just a good God. He's an amazing, spectacular, great God. He delights in us and loves us and wants to heap gifts upon us. He wants to give us what we ask, I think especially when we are humble and obedient to Him. I also think its more than just asking. We have to believe and know in your hearts, in our bones, that God is faithful and He is great and He will answer our prayers. We have to pray with complete faith and trust in Him. Jesus didn't just say ask and it will be given to you. He said ask, believe you will receive it, and you will.

I don't know about you, but I'm good at asking and I'm great at receiving... but I think I get caught up in the middle sometimes. I know my God, and I know He is good and He is faithful and He wants to give us what we ask. He wants to give us provision and comfort, peace, safety, healing whether it be physical, emotional or mental. He wants to give us all these things, and I believe He does. He's always listening, and He's always there at the other end of my prayers... but sometimes I think I fall into the trap of asking, but in the back of my mind doubting that God will provide what I ask for or doubting the authority given to me through Jesus in my prayers. I think I doubt that more than I doubt that God will provide. I know God will provide. He gives us so much, and He answers so many prayers... For some reason, I don't doubt God or my power in prayer over small stuff. Like the life stuff that's close to home. Asking for comfort or peace, or provision during a rough financial time for family or friends. Asking for discernment and hope or clarity on something. I pray those prayers knowing and expecting God to reply because I've seen Him do it before. He's answered my prayers and gotten me through the hardest moments of my life.

But the big stuff? The whole world stuff? That gives me pause a little. The world is such a mess right now. For most of this year, I've felt helpless and like there's nothing I can do to make it better. The world's just broken and I don't have the influence or the power or anything special to make the world a little less broken. It feels like corruption and evil and anger and fear is just running loose and I don't think I could put a dent in any of that, let alone make a difference in any of it. I mean this is huge stuff. Stuff that effects my life on a small scale, but also not really. Not like it does for others. I don't live in a city where there are riots every night or where they're burning Bibles. I haven't interacted with human trafficking first hand in any way, shape or form. While I know all of those things are very, very real... I just didn't think I had any power to really do anything about them. They seem so far away and so huge on a global scale. How am I supposed to make a dent in any of that? When the pandemic first started and then the riots started and through all of that I went down the rabbit hole that is realizing how corrupt our society is and how much evil is in this world, more than I ever thought possible, I felt like I was drowning in it. I was drowning in the evil and pain and I was just trying to process it. At last, I think I've finally come to the point where the processing is starting to ease, and I want to move into action even in the smallest way. And that's why I'm so glad God has been showing me the power of prayer over the past couple of months. Prayer can tip the scale in the larger battle of spiritual warfare. I always knew that, but never really thought much about it until this year. Prayer can change a life you've never met. Prayer can heal and fight fear and hate. And by prayer, I mean the authority of prayer given to me through Jesus Christ because there's no way I can do any of that. I'm incapable of using prayer all by myself without the power of Jesus to change a life or heal fear and hate. Only Jesus can. Which is why I've been learning about bold prayers and how important they are. What it means to have prayer and the authority that Jesus gives us. And that's why I think one of our biggest weapons against the evil one is prayer.

Prayer is so multifaceted and I feel like I'm learning something new about it all the time. It's always felt so mysterious and a little overwhelming at times too because of all it encompasses. I get the gist. We pray to communicate with God. I can sit and have a conversation with Him. But prayer is also so much more than that. It's a form of worship, a way of communication, a weapon against evil, a way to discern God's will, a way to intercede for others on their behalf, how we ask for forgiveness and repent of our sins. There are bold, strong prayers full of the authority Jesus gives us and then there are the small tear stained prayers of pleading and desperation. There are breath prayers, heart prayers, laying hands on someone and praying over them. There's prayer journaling and getting on your knees and praying or praying out loud for everyone to hear. God listens to all of them and interacts with us through all of them.

No matter how you pray though, whether it's out loud or under your breath or you write them all out on paper like letters to God, just know that your prayer holds power. You may feel powerless or helpless right now, but you are anything but! That is a lie that the enemy uses to weaken Christ's church. He wants you to think that your prayers don't actually do anything, that God doesn't actually hear you. But that's anything but the truth. God hears every single prayer you say. He wants to give you all you ask for and so much more. He wants to fulfill your prayers, and He wants you to use them boldly to fight against the evil and darkness in this world. Pray boldly. Pray big prayers for the big things in this world that trouble you and that God has placed on your heart. He hears them and He is working and moving through them.


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