I’ve written a lot of thought pieces for The Haystack. I’ve shared my opinions on technology, the generational divide, and how to be an all-around more Christlike person in the context of Adventism. But what I rarely share are my deep, unanswered questions about God. On my mind today: why should we ask God for anything?
During Jesus’ time on Earth, His disciples asked how they should pray. He replied, “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,'” (Matthew 6:9-13).
I get that kind of prayer. When I pray, it usually consists of a lot of “Thank you for what you’re doing in my life,” “Guide me in my decisions,” and “Open my heart to your will.” For me, that’s the easy part. But in my experiences with other Christians, I often hear them making specific requests of God. “Please bring healing to my loved one,” “Help me to get this new job,” “Please help me not to fail this exam.” These are prayers I wrestle with. When I spend time reading the Bible, I see there is a precise time for precise prayers. Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” In writing this article, I found many more similar verses. God tells us to ask! So, why is that a problem for me?
It’s hard for me to reconcile verses like these with others that say God is already working for our good. He knows what effects will come from each path we choose. He knows which paths are truly better for us and will increase our relationship with him, right? In Romans 8:38, Paul says “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” That’s my issue. I don’t trust myself to make requests. Why ask for something when I don’t know if it’s actually going to bless my life? Can I, in good conscience, ask for a promotion? What if it would end up damaging me or the people around me? If I already trust that God is always working for my good, always taking care of me, what’s left to ask for?
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I do trust God, and I do want Him to work through me. It’s also because I trust Him that I don’t know how to make requests of Him.