We all want to be loved. It's a fact. Some people may lie about it while others try to suppress it but at the end of the day the one thing we all crave is to be accepted, appreciated and loved unconditionally. From the bullies in the school yard to the bullies in the market place there is a root desire to hear someone say those words to them. Knowing you are loved gives you courage in the face of all adversity. Knowing you are appreciated helps you to be bold in the times of darkness. Knowing you are accepted makes you feel secure even when you are losing everything. It is indeed true that love is a many splendid thing.
There is one who loves us with a purity and power that can be matched by no other. He loves us because he has chosen to love us not because he is obligated. We know this because of the actions he has taken and the promises he has given. One of these promises that is often leaned on during difficult times is found in Matthew 7:
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; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
This is an extremely encouraging promise and one that you would think would be obvious. Our Father loves us so of course if we have a need we are going to go running to him. After all, he created everything, he is running things, he's in charge, the all powerful one. One would think it to be obvious who we would turn to for help. However, take a closer look at us followers, us children of the Father, and you might see something different. To be honest, turning to Dad seems to be a last ditch effort for many Christians. We try to find our own solutions, even turning to other people for help, and when everything else fails, we turn to Dad. But what about when he doesn't answer? Jesus taught us:
Which of you, if his 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! (Matthew 7:9-11)
As I read this again this morning a simple thought struck me: this is assuming the child has the wisdom to ask for a fish or to ask for bread. So often we confuse ourselves because we ask God for things that would destroy us, things that are dangerous to us, things that our Father knows best to keep far from us. Read it again but invert what is being said. Which of you, if his son asks for a stone, will give it to him? Or if he asks for a snake, will give it to him? Often, if our prayers are not being answered, it is because we lack the wisdom to ask for the things we need instead of what we want.
Many of us should set aside some of our prayer topics and start praying for our needs, such as wisdom, love, forgiveness, fortitude. Ask yourself what you really need. A hungry child is not going to ask for a bicycle because even a child has enough wisdom to know what he needs at that moment. Perhaps to pray that your boss is fired because he is so mean is the wrong prayer. Perhaps you should be praying for strength and fortitude while the Lord works salvation in the heart of your boss. Perhaps you require a paradigm shift to allow you to see in such a way that your heart is aligned with the Father's.
People can so easily lose faith in Jesus and his promises when the prayers for their heart's desire goes unanswered. Very few consider that their heart's desire could be wrong. Not only could it be wrong, it could kill them physically, mentally, emotionally or even spiritually. Now I ask you, what father would hand a loaded gun over to his child just because he asked for it? If Dad doesn't seem to be answering then ask him for the ears to hear and the heart to understand what is wrong. Then ask him for the courage and the will to change your prayers to what you need instead of what you want.
"Ask, seek, knock" is a great promise and one that we can live by, trusting, believing, hoping. It is a promise that comes from the heart of the one who loves as far greater and far better than anyone in this world. But it is a promises that is based on a Father child relationship, where the Father gives what is good and holds back what is bad. We need to know our needs. He is a good Daddy who loves us to death, and beyond. Don't misjudge him.