Before you agree to a contract for a job, a house or a phone, you are advised to read the conditions carefully. Especially the fine prints. Why? To make sure you aren’t being cheated or given the short end of the stick. Many people have been cheated of millions of dollars by not reading carefully.
How about signing the dotted line before the conditions are even written? That’s crazy! Who in the right mind would do that? There is a rational fear that we would be taken advantage of. We assume that the other party will abuse their authority over us. Don’t we treat God’s will in the same way sometimes? “God, tell me your will first. If it’s good, I agree to do it. Show me what’s behind the door before I step in.” If God’s deal doesn’t look good, we choose not to accept it.
Here are some fears I personally experienced:
- Fear that God will send me to a faraway land as a missionary where I’ll be killed for His glory.
- Fear that God will give me a life partner that is ugly, blind and irritating just to “train” me.
- Fear that God will make me do a job so menial and torturous to keep me humble.
We have an innate fear that if we hand our choices to God, He will give us something terrible. As a child, I was told that if I asked God not to send me to Africa, God will definitely send me there! So I changed my prayers to, “Don’t send me to New Zealand” trying to outsmart God.
All these fears are rooted in a wrong theology of God the Father.
Jesus had something to say about God the Father. Firstly, Jesus asks us to A.S.K. (Ask, Seek, Knock) the father.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
When you pray, ask, seek and knock. Plead with the father and it is promised that it will be given to you. The Greek indicates a continuous action of asking, seeking and knocking. Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking. Persistence in prayer is vital.
Jesus then assures us that God the Father will give us good gifts when we ask Him. He compares between earthly fathers and our heavenly father.
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Jesus appeals to all earthly fathers in his audience. No father would give a stone when his son asks for bread. Or give his daughter a venomous snake rather than smoked salmon. Using two exaggerated almost comedic scenarios, Jesus drove home the point that no matter how good our earthly fathers are, God the father is much better.
My father is a good, loving man. A father who prays, cares and buys wonderful gifts for me. How is he “evil” as Jesus said? Evil in comparison to God’s goodness. All men are born in sin and can only do evil. This is a result of the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Since then, all fathers cannot perfectly love their child as God does. God the Father perfectly loves His children. (I wrote about this in an earlier post). That’s why Jesus said “how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.”
When we ask God for certain things, we can be assured that he is better than any earthly father. If my own dad gives me good gifts, what about God the Father who loves and know me so much more? He will give the best gifts to me! My irrational fears that God will give me something bad stems from a wrong view of God as a harsh, no-nonsense type of God. Indeed, God punishes sin and is just. But he also loves you more than any dad could love you. What I need is for the Spirit to reveal how much the Father loves me.
There are four answers that God can give when we ask Him in prayer: (1) Yes, (2) No, (3) Wait or (4) I got something better. We have to be open to all responses from Him and be willing to let go of any requests that is not in God’s will for us. No longer do we need to fear that God will give us something terrible. God has something wonderful for you. It may not be what you want but what you need.