I try to make it a point to have prayer time with God. Like officially sit-at-the-kitchen-table-with-my-Bible prayer. The Bible is a good touch, you know. I might get some kind of divine thought or something. Add a cup of coffee and I feel like I can really check my list off of “goody two-shoes.” But you know what? When I don’t do that, I tend to feel guilty. When I don’t always set aside time, I start to feel bad about it. Like God is getting upset with me and maybe I’m not going to get answered prayers or receive some special blessing.
One morning as I had finally sat down to just relax, I thought, “Oh, this is a perfect time to pray!” Right away I started to get that feeling. Guilt. The feeling started to grow when while I was praying, I realized I was asking for a lot of things. Everything was a request, a concern, a worry, or a stress. Asking God to help heal this, bring restoration to this, bring peace to this, and thanking Him for being faithful and guiding me. I decided to look up “prayer” in my Bible’s topical concordance. The first verse that was listed was 1 Timothy 2:1-3:
The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.
You know, this doesn’t say anything about asking God too much or too often is a bad thing. Check out Luke 11:10:
Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in.
I mentioned I had concerns and worries. One of my favorite verses about prayer and worry is found in Philippians. I think this might be a popular one for many of us in our prayer life. Philippians 4:6-7:
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
When I used to read that verse, I always felt some sort of assurance or affirmation that it was good for me to always ask God for help. As silly as that sounds, I think as humans we tend to take that human feeling of guilt for asking too much and apply to our relationship with God–which is definitely not human. Not even close to the same characteristics in our human relationships. God is unconditional in his love for us. All he asks is that we believe that. In John 15 Jesus said that if we “make ourselves at home with me, [Jesus] and my words are at home in you, you can be sure whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon” (MSG Bible).
I realized that I let myself not feel “at home with God” because I thought I wasn’t following some little routine in my relationship with him. I am a person of routine but God doesn’t make me feel this way. What a lie Satan wants us to believe. Another measure we put on ourselves and believe that it comes from God. I find myself having to purposefully pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to remind me of God’s Word and truth. I sure can’t remember it all. And feeling bad about not always remembering is certainly not what God wants. He wants us to ask for help. He wants us to ask for His revelation, He wants us to ask. Asking is part of our free will in our relationship with Him. Asking sounds like a foundational element in our relationship with Him.
Being “at home” with someone is a comfortable conversation that might happen over coffee. It also means I can be comfortable when I’m at my worst. I can pour my heart out and not worry that God only sees me as a minion who always asks for stuff. If you really start to think about it, we most likely pray and talk with God all the time. An utterance in the car while waiting at the light, thinking about your Mom who is probably missing her mom she lost some years ago, especially around the holidays. The quick praise when you are glad to find out that your little one made a new friend today and he’s been struggling at his new school. After all, you might have asked God to help your little one at school and probably wouldn’t being saying a quick praise if you hadn’t asked to begin with. Who knows!
Sometimes when I’m asking, I feel like there’s no answer. I never see an answer. I can’t find one anywhere. I feel like my prayer just goes to God and I don’t hear anything back. I might even start to get angry about it. Frustrated that all I do is ask and don’t receive. The only “answer” I feel like I have for this is like what Jesus mentioned earlier about how prayer is not some kind of game, like hide-and-seek. I come to God with full faith, (OK, maybe not full faith alllll the time), knowing that I am making my requests known to him, but this also means that I am trusting Him. Knowing that He is in control. Sometimes asking for his help or for healing doesn’t necessarily mean that specifically what I asked for was answered, but you know what I almost ALWAYS experience, a reassurance that God is with me. His peace washes over me. In a way, that is an answered prayer. Having God’s incomprehensible peace hold you. That alone makes “asking” worth it. So keep on asking.