“Ask, and it shall be given you…for every one that asks receiveth…”
Though Jesus talked about Hell more than anyone, He preached a very positive gospel. That is because the gospel, like the Law His listeners were familiar with, has more to say about what people should do than about prohibitions, and more about rewards than punishment.
Prayer is an essential part of a relationship with God and to encourage prayer, Jesus had important things to say about it. One of these things was the assurance that prayer is heard and answered. Not sometimes, not if you do it right—but always.
In the last century, parents were familiar with the benefits of saying, “No” to childish requests. Of course, we’ve evolved since then. If you don’t believe me follow young parents around the store and see the change for yourself. God’s an old-fashioned Father, there are times He says no, but not as often as you may think.
The mistake many make in asking God for something is that they believe God works like a genie from fairy tales. Rather than a puff of smoke and a loud Poof! Announce an answer, God answers by granting real things. Ask God to give you patience—if you dare. He will give it by sending you troubles to be patient through. Ask for wisdom—prepare for some tough lessons. Ask God for peace—He will show you the cross of Christ and tell you that is the way to peace.
Jesus in the same lesson as the text above also said that if you ask for a fish, he will not give you a serpent. That is, He will not give you something that will kill or destroy you. Uncountable millions of dollars could as easily be the death of a person as poverty. God knows where you fit in the spectrum, but neither does He shackle you.
Israel asked for a king so they could be like everyone else. God told the prophet to explain what having a human king would be like. When Israel insisted on having one anyway God granted the request, and the mistake became clear right away and Israel had to learn to live with their answer.
When we ask something in prayer it’s good to remember we are asking from the passenger seat and God is determined to drive us where we need to go to be the people He intends for us to be. Prayer is as much a lesson as a gift. Before you ask, think about what it will take to produce what you are seeking—believe me God is thinking about it.