We Must Ask. [Principles of Prayer – 1]

Every Christian should be keenly aware of the importance of prayer in our lives. It is our connection to God. Through prayer we have the ear of the most powerful Being in the universe, and with Him nothing is impossible. Tahis being the case, we ought to understand carefully the principals regarding prayer, that we might fully take advantage of its power. 

God is eager to give good things to us. He wants us to ask of Him. And the Bible gives us the confidence that if we ask, we shall receive (Luke 11:9). And it is in this vein that I wish to lay out several principles of prayer that are given us in the Bible. If we use these principles in our prayer life, the Bible gives us assurance of answered prayer.

We will cover the first principal in this post, and the others in subsequent posts.

They are as follows:

  1. We must ask.
  2. We must ask with correct motives.
  3. We must ask with persistence.
  4. We must ask in faith.

And I will follow up with:

5. What to do when our prayers are not answered. 

We must ask

Ask, and you shall receive. – Luke 11:9

It may seem obvious that we should ask, for asking is what prayer is. But it is fairly common that people expect this or that from God without ever formally making a request. We expect that God should know what we need and therefore supply it without our asking. But this is a mistake. God does indeed know what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8), but the scripture gives no indication that God will answer our requests unless we do indeed ask. Asking precedes receiving. The Bible says, ‘Ask, and you shall receive.’ The implication is that if we do not ask, we will not receive. This is precisely what the apostle James says in his letter:

You do not have because you do not ask. – James 4:2

It might be inquired as to why this is so. And I suspect that there is a legal and governmental reason for this. But I also think it is simply for our own sake. If we do not ask, how can we experience the joy of answered prayer? How can we experience the wonder of making a request to God and then seeing the fulfillment of that request? Jesus comments on this very thing when He says this:

Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. – John 16:24

Besides this, we ought to also consider the deep gravity of making requests to God. If we do not ask, we do not receive. This may seem trivial if we ask for something like a new pair of socks or a raise in our salary. But what if we fail to ask for salvation for a friend, or for wisdom on the next steps to take in life, or for revival in our church, or for advice regarding an important decision? If we do not ask, we do not have. 

There are two examples in the Bible which speak to the seriousness of this principal. In the book of First Samuel, David was being chased by Saul, who sought to kill him. While David was seeking to hide from Saul, word came to him that the city of Keilah was under siege by the Philistines. After seeking the Lord, David and his men went and rescued the city. The city would have surely been plundered and the people killed and enslaved if it had not been for David and his men. One would assume that the people would desire to return the favor, but assumptions are not wise. When Saul found that David was at Keilah, he moved to fight against the city. David then sought the Lord:

Then David said, “O LORD God of Israel, Your servant has certainly heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah to destroy the city for my sake. Will the men of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as Your servant has heard? O LORD God of Israel, I pray, tell Your servant.” And the LORD said, “He will come down.” Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?”And the LORD said, “They will deliver you.” So David and his men, about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah and went wherever they could go. Then it was told Saul that David had escaped from Keilah; so he halted the expedition. – 1 Samual 23:10-13

I want to point out some very interesting facts about this conversation that David had with the Lord. First, he asked the Lord if Saul would come down to the city. What was the Lord’s answer? “He WILL come down.” Second, he asked if the people of Keilah would deliver him over to Saul. They Lord answered again: “They WILL.” But what we must understand is that the people of the city of Keilah DID NOT deliver over David, nor did Saul ever come down. The Bible says that Saul halted the expedition. Was the Lord wrong to say that these things would happen? He was not wrong. God was declaring what WOULD HAVE happened if David remained in the city. 

The point is that here was a very real possibility of David’s life looking very different. If David had not asked, he would not have received an answer from the Lord. If he had assumed that the people of Keilah would return the kindness, it may be that the story of David would be very different. 

Some might balk at this, but let me relay another story which is similar, but with a different outcome. In this story we see Josiah, who was a righteous king, who ‘walked in the ways of David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left’ (2 Chronicles 34:2). Among all the kings of Judah, there was no king as good as Josiah, walking in the ways of the Lord with all his heart. Although he wasn’t as great as David as far as leadership and accomplishments, there was never any corruption in him, nor was there any scandal like with David, or pride like with Hezekiah. However, his life was cut short, and we shall read why:

After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by the Euphrates; and Josiah went out against him. But he sent messengers to him, saying, “What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you.” Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself so that he might fight with him, and did not heed the words of Necho from the mouth of God. So he came to fight in the Valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot King Josiah; and the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am severely wounded.” His servants therefore took him out of that chariot and put him in the second chariot that he had, and they brought him to Jerusalem. So he died, and was buried in one of the tombs of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. – 2 Chronicles 35:20-24

Unlike David, Josiah made several assumptions rather than coming to God in prayer. He assumed that God could not possibly be speaking to him through a pagan king. He assumed that disguising himself in battle would keep him safe. He assumed that nothing bad could happen to him. Instead of assuming, he should have done what David his father had done, and seek the Lord. Perhaps he could have lived a longer life and done much more for the Lord. But he didn’t ask for advice. And since he did not ask, he did not receive

But can it be that our prayers have such consequence? Can it be that our prayers can be the difference between life in death? It certainly seems so. Of course, we know that death is not such a terrible thing for a Christian. But we also must consider that there is much work to be done upon the earth. It would be better for us to continue for a while longer, bearing fruit for God. And this being the case, we should be sure to seek God for the answers we need and the advice we need. If we ask, we will receive. 

What is it that you have not asked for that you should? Have you asked for a godly spouse? Have you asked what your calling may be? Have you asked for an increase in your finances so you can be a blessing to those around you? Ask, and you shall receive. 

Are you facing a big decision? Ask for advice. Ask for wisdom. Are you unsure what direction to go in your life? Ask for direction.

What is your request to God? Lift up your voice to Him in prayer. Ask, and it shall be given to you. This is the first principal that we must understand in regard to answered prayer.

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