Praying With Confidence
When a teenager who has just gotten her driver’s license asks her mom or dad for the car keys, it’s not typically a vague, half-hearted request. Instead, her mind is engaged and her will is focused: “Please can I have the car keys? I want the car. I’d like to use the car. I’m asking you for it now.”
Similarly, the verbs that Jesus uses to teach His disciples how to make requests to God in prayer—ask, seek, knock—convey urgency, consistency, and clarity. It’s as if He’s saying, I want you to pray in a way that involves humble, persistent determination. I want you to seek and to go on seeking, and I want you to knock with an urgent sincerity.
He is inviting you and me to come before our heavenly Father and simply to ask.
We must be careful about what we ask for, though. When we present our petitions before the Lord, they need to be tempered by the Spirit through what John Calvin calls the “bridle of the word of God.” In other words, the Bible teaches that we can ask in total confidence for the things that God says are good and right—things like His help so that we can present our bodies as living sacrifices, grow as witnesses to the gospel, or increase our desire to worship. But we must not think that we can manipulate God, demanding that He gives us whatever will make our life easier or wealthier. It is possible to “ask and … not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3).
So we are to ask boldly, but we are also to ask humbly. We are to ask God to do great things, and then we are to accept His answer. There are good reasons why God will not always give us what we ask, even when what we ask is in itself good and godly. Our prayers are not always in accordance with His good and sovereign will. We cannot always determine what’s good for us—but God always knows what’s best for His children. Therefore, when we bring our requests before God, we must look to His word as our roadmap and remember that He is working to bring about His purposes for our lives and to conform us to the image of His Son.
So come before God and just ask. Your requests can be specific, and bold, and shaped by God’s word—and then you can expect, and indeed desire, God to answer them exactly as He sees fit.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
9And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12giving thanks4 to the Father, who has qualified you5 to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
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