Throughout the ages there has been much discussion, argument, disagreement, and misunderstanding about the words of Jesus, “ask and you will receive.” I have known many Christians who have become disappointed; even disillusioned with God, because they asked and they did not receive. Some have turned away from God because of it. Others remain quietly despondent but press on with God nonetheless.
Some requests brought to God could be described as selfish, like asking for a boat or a bigger house when neither is needed. There are those who believe to ask for material possessions is a wrong motive. It rather makes me chuckle to note, that often, folks of this persuasion have plenty of unnecessary “things” in their own lives. The counter argument for this is that God cares about our needs but also He loves to give unexpected gifts to simply bless us with extra happiness like good father’s do.
Some requests are brought to God out of a broken heart. We ask that either ourselves or a dear loved one be healed of some terrible disease. We beg God to restore a broken relationship. Single people plead for a spouse, while married people complain to God that the spouse they have isn’t what they had hoped he or she would be. Asking and receiving from God often abounds in disappointment.
Of course, we probably all understand that many times God says, “no” because He understands that what we ask for is not good for us. On this matter I often recall an incident of many years ago. My cousin was visiting us as Christmas approached. She had her little girl with her. At one point during the visit I could see the toddler speaking to her mother. I didn’t hear what the little girl said but the mother’s response makes me laugh out loud to this day. She said with a look of sternness and dismay, “I told you, you are not getting a chainsaw for Christmas!” The little girl was about three years old at the time. What a hoot! I’m sure you and I are hoots, too, at times in what we ask God to give us.
The question of, why do I ask but I don’t receive, has been dealt with in volumes of books and in endless discussions. Therefore, I will not attempt to write a tome of thought on the matter; nor will I conjure up every argument I can remember. I will just share one verse that is often quoted during discussions. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 What a lovely, encouraging verse.
The thing that often comes to my own mind when I consider this verse, in relation to our requests to God to give us what we want is this: There is much meditation on the last part of the verse that tells us that God will give us our heart’s desires. I find not so much meditation on the part that says we are to delight in Him. An interesting note to pay attention to because it is the first instruction. Delighting in God comes before asking Him for anything. Do you think that part is often forgotten?
What does it mean, anyway, to delight oneself in the Lord? I looked it up in the dictionary. To delight means to, “please someone greatly.” Well, that puts a whole new look upon the matter, doesn’t it. Why should I expect God to grant me my heart’s desire if I ignore Him, never think about Him, except in times of trouble, or spend countless hours blaming Him for everything from personal dilemma to the world’s chaos.
What if we spent more time just in getting to know Him? What if we took time everyday to read His love letter to us in the Bible and then meditated upon His words? What if we talked to him, not only when bad things were happening and we needed His help, but just to say thank you for a lovely day: the sunrise, the sounds of birds singing, a friend’s laughter, the enjoyment of a neighbor’s visit. What if we took time to ask God to help us to understand His ways and then to give us the strength to walk in those ways ourselves?
If we took time to truly delight ourselves in Him, I wonder what desires of our hearts we would receive?