Learning to approach God boldly, asking Him directly to meet our needs.
Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God conceived you in love will be even better? Matthew 7:7-11, The Message
When we approach God to ask him for something, we carry in ourselves an image of how he will treat us. This inner view of God shapes the way we approach him and the manner in which we ask him to meet our needs.
In Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, he is aware that many hold a skewed view of God that prevents them from boldly approaching him. Jesus corrects our misconception by teaching us who God is for us in our times of need. Jesus compares God to a good, loving parent who is anticipating our asking and looking forward to responding our requests in generosity. For those of us who had parents with good, loving hearts, we learned to approach our parents with confidence to ask for help in our times of need. These experiences shaped how we view asking God for help.
In the same manner, parents with hard, stingy hearts trained their children to believe that God is miserly and unreliable source for help. Thus, Jesus’ teaching, arising from his own experience of God, presents a healthy and realistic view of God from the one’s shaped by weak parents.
In his teaching, Jesus points out that we don’t need to bargain with God with promises of good behavior or harder work on our part to receive our requests. Jesus points us to bold, confident requests, “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need.”
If Jesus’ picture of prayer is true, what would it take to embrace his view of prayer and his image of God? It seems then that we need to do an inventory of our view of asking for help and of our image of God. If our practices in prayer do not line up with what Jesus presents in the Sermon on the Mount – direct, bold asking – then we need to let go these frail practices and embrace the healthy one Jesus presents. Furthermore, if our image is one where God is a tease or could care less for his children, this broken view of God needs immediate dismissal and replaced with Jesus’ view.
It’s time to discover who God really is for us in our times of need! How good! How generous! How loving! It’s time to approach God and ask him for our needs with direct boldness!
Lord, release me from any old, outdated image that I hold of you. Open my eyes to see you as Jesus does, so that I never again shrink back from you with any need but rather come to you with confident, direct boldness.