Among the boxes we tend to build for God—the various extents to which we believe or predict He will act—is the box that confines Him to responding to us the same way others do. We often limit our expectations of Him to what we’ve experienced within our human interactions.
We’ve learned, for example, that not everybody who says we should get together for lunch sometime has the slightest intention of putting it on their calendar. Not everybody who says they’ll be praying for us will remember to do it. Some people hope we never find out whether or not they meant it when they told us, “If there’s anything I can do, just ask.”
We think God is like that, too.
But as the Bible says, “God is not a man, that He should lie” (Numbers 23:19). When He tells us to ask—as He does on multiple occasions in Scripture—He’s not just trying to sound neighborly. He’s trying to involve us in His blessing. He’s wanting us to experience the fullness of our inheritance in Christ. He’s using a prayer transaction to build trust and relationship.
Now let me be clear: I’m not suggesting we need to seek God’s will about what we should wear before we can get dressed in the morning. I’m saying that when we have a concern, when something is causing us apprehension or uneasiness, we should never shy away from bringing it to our heavenly Father just because we feel He doesn’t have time for something so minor. He has invited us to do that. And His desire for relationship with us is, at least in part, why I think He’s done it.
Asking of God doesn’t make us pushy, not according to the Bible. Nor, of course, does it mean He’ll give us whatever we want. But when we take Him up on His invitation to ask for what we need—both the big things and the small things—one of the greatest things He gives us is the opportunity to recognize exactly where our help is coming from. When we request and He answers, we are enabled to know beyond any doubt that He was the One working in our experience.
When we truly ask of the Lord, we’re not just hoping in general; we’re relating with our Father. We’re asking and seeking and knocking, just as His Word instructs us to do (Matthew 7:7). And when He gives, when we find, when the door is opened to us, we don’t sit there wondering how in the world that happened. By inviting us to ask, He is continually connecting His life with ours. Every blessing becomes another noticeable expression of His loving care.
He is able to do “all that we ask.” Beyond it, actually.
But even that’s not all. (And this part gets me so excited, I can barely stand it.) Since we can’t often pinpoint the exact reason for the ache in our heart that needs healing or the worry that’s keeping us from sleeping, God doesn’t need for us to find the right words before He responds. He is willing to do beyond what we ask, yes, but He’ll even do beyond what we can think.
The things we don’t know how to pray, as well as the things we don’t even know to be praying for at all, are still under His control. He can do all that we can “ask or think.”
Beyond what we could think to ask are things that only God knows. And out there, in here, wherever our words come up short, His Spirit fills in the blanks, not allowing anything to touch our lives that cannot be co-opted to conform to His will.
You and I are completely covered. Totally. Because God is able.
This article is adapted with permission from God is Able (Copyright 2013 B&H Publishing Group).
Priscilla Shirer is the author of God Is Able. Shirer is a New York Times best-selling author, a Bible teacher, conference speaker, mother to three sons and wife to her husband Jerry, with whom she founded Going Beyond Ministries.