Ask, ask, and ask again

Do you remember Christmas as a child? Every year, there was something specific you wanted. You would write it down on a list or tell people that’s what you wanted months and months in advance. Did you ever forget that’s what you wanted? Did it ever slip your mind?

No. It wouldn’t have, because you were focused on it. It’s what you wanted, so that’s what you thought about. It colored everything. When you’d go into a store, maybe you’d even see that one thing you wanted so desperately, but you wouldn’t buy it. Even if you had the money to do so, you wouldn’t, because it’s what you’d asked for, and you might be getting it as a present.

Sure, you’d asked for it, and you didn’t have it yet. But yet was the operative word.

739BBHC8KM_1382x922Today’s verses are Matthew 7:7-8.

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Jesus was a fan of persistence. There were many instances throughout Scripture where He encouraged His disciples and His followers to ask questions, to challenge the status quo, to think outside the box and never give up or give in just because it was popular.

I’m afraid to ask God for things because I think He might not do what I want. I’m afraid of putting my faith in Him completely and trusting that He’ll give me what I’m asking for because what if He doesn’t? What if I’m asking for the wrong things and He doesn’t give me what I’ve asked for?

I’m not old, but I’ve been following Jesus for a long time. And I can honestly say He’s never let me down, and He’s never broken a promise to me. Sure, there have been times when I felt like He did, but that’s because I didn’t see the bigger picture.

I tried writing for myself years ago, and it didn’t work. I dropped everything and dedicated myself to getting published. I barely lasted six months because I didn’t have enough in savings to support myself in the interim. The day I had to shut down my office and go back to a regular job felt like failure, felt like the end of a dream, felt like God had promised me something only to take it away.

But that wasn’t the case at all. And those six months weren’t wasted. I learned a lot during that time, mostly that I wasn’t ready to work for myself yet. I needed time and experience, and I needed to make connections with people I didn’t even know yet.

I asked God to allow me to write for a living, and He made that happen, first by preparing the way for me to get an awesome job as a copywriter. Then, He made it happen again by opening the doors to allow me to go into business for myself.

God gave me what I asked for, but I kept asking for it. I didn’t give up. Writing for myself (for His glory, of course) had always been my dream, and it colored everything I did. It was something I knew I would do whether I could get paid for it or not.

What I’ve learned about asking is that if you keep asking, it helps you stay focused on what you really want. If you ask for something and then stop, you must not really want it.

So ask. Then, ask again. And keep asking until you get it. It’s not nagging. It’s not pestering. It’s a way to stay focused on your dream, and as long as your dream brings glory to God, He’ll help you achieve it. It won’t be on your timetable (trust me on that one), but you’ll get there.

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Grainery Door

Pestering versus Persisting

I hate pestering people. Maybe that’s just me, but having to ask someone over and over and over again for the same thing upsets me. It embarasses me. Isn’t that weird? I don’t want people to call me a pest, but at the same time I need them to do their part so I can finish what I’m working on. So when God tells us to ask Him for things, I always do. But usually I only ask once.

But here is a lesson I have learned from working in the corporate world: if you don’t nag someone, they won’t do it. That’s just the way it is. If you only have to ask someone for something once before they answer, either they don’t have enough work to do or you aren’t getting your work done (I’m exaggerating, of course . . . but only a little).

You have to ask people over and over and over again for something all the time, mainly to show them how important it is. If you only ask for it once and then you don’t bring it up again and they never respond, well, it must not be very important to you. I think that’s the general consensus. And if I understand today’s verse right, God is the same way.

Grainery Door

Grainery Door - Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Matthew 7:7-8.

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

When we want something or when we need something, we should ask. We have to ask and ask and keep on asking. It’s not pestering. It’s persistence. There’s a difference. Persistence is continuing steadfastly, according to Dictionary.com. Pestering is bothering persistently.

Do you get the difference?

Pestering is bothering someone. It’s approaching someone with a problem that is trivial or petty over and over and over again. Even after someone has told you not to bring it up anymore, if you keep bringing it up and it becomes annoying, then it is pestering.

But persistence is working toward something that matters. It’s asking for something that matters to you. It’s continuing to request something over and over again because it will change the quality of your life or of someone else’s life. It’s not a petty, annoying request.

Okay. So how do we know the difference between a request that matters and one that doesn’t?

Here’s the easy answer: There’s no petty request with God.

God cares about every instance in our lives. Even the things that we think (and that others think) are petty are huge to Him. Why? Because they matter to us.

I have good friends who have no children, not by their own desire but just because of the way life has worked. Their dog became really important to them because they had no children, and when their dog suddenly died, they both struggled with it. A lot. And it broke my heart because they didn’t feel comfortable talking about how sad they were around other Christians because “it was only a dog.” 

No. It was a pet they loved. And maybe other Christians callously thought it was petty to love an animal so much, but that’s not  fair. We shouldn’t judge someone else’s heart, and we have no place to tell someone what they can and can’t love (we do it all the time, though).

And maybe asking for comfort in a situation like that seemed petty to other Christians, but it wasn’t petty to God. God understands our grief. He understands the pain we go through. He understands our hearts and our dreams and our wishes, and He cares. He wants to be involved in our lives. He wants to give us good gifts. He wants to do great things through us.

But if we don’t ask, He might not. Because when you ask for something–and you really really want it–your attitude toward that request changes. When you ask for something over and over, your level of desire for that outcome increases. The more you ask for it, the more you want it. The more you want it, the more you’ll be willing to invest of yourself.

So ask God for what you want. Not just once. Not just twice. Constantly. Consistently. Let Him know that what you’re asking for is something you’re determined to finish, to see through to the end. Because if you’re only going to devote half your heart to it, do you really want it as badly as you think you do?