How are we to pray? Spurgeon said in a sermon on this passage, ‘Asking is the rule of the kingdom.’ He points out that even Jesus had to ask for his kingdom, that Elijah had to ask for the promised rain, that Daniel had to ask for the promised deliverance of the Jews from Babylon, and that Paul prayed about everything. James says that if we don’t ask for something that God has promised, we should not assume that it will be sent.
Asking in prayer is contact with the triune God. We can ask because the Father is listening, we can ask because we are accepted in Jesus, and we can ask because we have the Spirit of adoption in our hearts guiding our prayers. When we think about prayer in this way, we see some of its richness.
Asking is straightforward, specific and simple to test as far as answers are concerned. James Gilmour, a missionary to Mongolia, gave this advice about prayer: ‘All I know about the process is just going to God and telling what I want, and asking to be allowed to have it. “Seek, and ye shall find; ask, and ye shall receive.” I know no secret but this.’ He continued: ‘I have learned that the source of much blessing is just to go to Jesus, and tell Him what you need.’
It is good to remember that, when we ask, God will give much more than we ask. Paul reminds us of this in his doxology in Ephesians 3:20-21: ‘Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.’ But we have to ask.
So what can we say about asking in prayer? Here are some suggestions that we may wish to think about. Asking is
- an expression of confidence in God that he will keep his many great and precious promises.
- an expression of submission to God because he commands us to ask for things according to his will.
- an expression of our awareness of the authority that belongs to Jesus Christ when we ask in his name.
- an expression of fellowship as we ask God for spiritual blessings for one another.
- an expression that we want the name of God to be glorified throughout the earth.
- an expression that reveals the passions of our heart in a God-honouring way as we wrestle with him for specific answers.