What Do We Say?

You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

James 4:2-3

Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and pow’r are such,
None can ever ask too much.

This hymn by John Newton reminds us of Jesus’ words: “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). Jesus taught His disciples elsewhere, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). We can go to God and ask Him for good things. We can never ask too much of God. Yet, as James says, many of us don’t receive these gifts from our Father because we don’t have the courage to act on Jesus’ teaching and simply ask. Or we do ask, but we request things not that are in line with His will but rather that we want to receive from Him in order “to spend it on [our] passions”—to use to further our priorities, and not to serve His.

When we consider what God’s word teaches about prayer, we find that we are to ask—and to ask with humility, sincerity, and love, and with an understanding that God is sovereign and that His will is what we most wish to be done. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). See the balance here. Jesus had absolute confidence in God’s power, He had the courage to ask God to do something humanly impossible, and yet He also showed complete submission to the Father’s will. It was only God’s sovereign purpose that kept the cup from being removed as Christ prayed. It was not because Christ didn’t “believe enough” to make it happen. In the same way, the boldness, childlikeness, and enthusiasm we demonstrate when asking God to do the impossible are not undermined by His sovereignty; they are mercifully controlled by it.

As God’s child, you can boldly come before your Father, trusting Him to accomplish all you need and all you ask that is in accordance with His will. Following Jesus’ example, you can submit your desires to your Father’s loving sovereignty. As you trust God for the right thing in the right way, you can be confident that He will always give the right response. You can never ask for something that is too big for God to do. So just ask!

A. Begg

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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