“Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it!” In earlier years, this contemporary proverb, the author of which remains unknown, confused me. Of course! When I ask for something, I want to ‘get it’ otherwise I would not have asked for it in the first place. I make my requests to God, and do so because I am conscious of a need in my life, and Jesus Himself exhorted me to do so, saying: “Ask and it will be given to you,” (Matthew 7:7 – NIV). James wrote: “You do not have, because you do not ask God,” (James 4:2 – NIV). When I ask my heavenly Father for something, I want Him to answer in the affirmative, don’t I? Well, as I have matured in years and grown in my understanding, I have come to realise that my answer to that somewhat rhetorical question is, actually, both ‘yes’ and ‘no’.
The Israelites asked Samuel for a king (1 Samuel chapter 8). Despairingly, Samuel took their request to God. God condescended to their request, even though He knew that it was not the best thing for His people. The Israelites got what they wanted but ‘suffered’ the consequences of what arguably became a very troublesome monarchy. The lesson seems clear. We think we know what is best for our lives, and make our requests accordingly. Sometimes, however, our requests are contrary to God’s will and purpose and, indeed, ultimately detrimental to our wellbeing. Hence, we should preface our requests to God with the expression, “… if it is your will, Lord…”
In the wilderness, the Israelites were so intent with getting what they wanted, they failed to discern the will of God. They were more concerned about immediate physical gratification than lasting spiritual satisfaction. They complained so much, it is recorded that God; “… gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul,” (Psalm 106:15 – AV).
Clearly, God knows what is best for our lives. As children of God, we should make our requests from hearts that, in all things and at all times, covet the glory of God. Hence, in times of conscious, personal need, we should echo the words of Jesus, saying: “… not as I will, but as you will,” (Matthew 26:39 – NIV).
UK Executive Director