In America, there are some Bible teachers that say that if you want something from God, just claim it in Jesus name, and he has to give it to you.
For a lot of these people, God is like their personal genie. But God is no genie. He doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to do. And whether people believe it or not, he doesn’t always want to give you what you want.
One key phrase we see in Matthew is that God gives “good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:11)
Sometimes, though, we ask for things, and God knows they are not good for us. We ask for something thinking it’s bread, but it’s really a stone. Will God give us that stone? Other times, we’ll ask for a fish when it’s really a serpent. Will he give us that serpent? Of course not. He is a good Father. He would never do that to us.
With that in mind, we can be bold in asking things of God, knowing that if something is good for us, he will give it to us in his timing. But if something is bad for us, he will tell us no.
So Jesus tells us,
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. (Luke 11:9-10)
Too often, we don’t receive because we don’t ask. We worry, “Am I being selfish? Shouldn’t I be praying about other things? Surely there are more important things to pray for than what I want.”
I think there are two points to be made here. Number one, God is more generous than we realize. He loves us and wants to give his children good gifts. Jesus talks in Luke of a person who only drags himself out of bed because his neighbor keeps pounding on the door asking for some bread. Far from saying that God has to be pestered consistently before he will answer, Jesus is contrasting God with that man saying, “If that man, though he is tired, will drag himself out of bed because his neighbor keeps pounding on the door, how much more will God gladly answer the prayers of those who come to his door?”
The second point is this: God wants us to know him better. To learn to trust him. To know his goodness towards us. And asking is part of that process. As we ask, we start to find out more of what his will is for our lives. We start to understand from his answers just what is good and what is not so good for us. And through the yeses and nos and the results that come from his answers, we learn to trust God’s judgment and wisdom.
But if we never ask, we’ll never learn these things.
So ask. Seek. Knock. More doors will be opened than you expect. And more importantly, you’ll find yourself in a closer relationship with God as you understand him and his will more.