Time to Ask!

By on January 18, 2015
woman with hand on heart

By Nancie Carmichael –

“I cried out to God with my voice…And He gave ear to me.” Ps. 77:1

We can get pretty complicated about prayer. After all, the thought of communicating with the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth can be an intimidating concept. But Jesus says we are to become as children to enter the Kingdom: Simple, honest, and direct, praying from who and what we are. C. S. Lewis wrote, “We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.” 

I’m still glowing from the wonderful time spent with our family during the holidays. I noticed that my little grand-people have not needed a seminar to learn  how to get their needs met—they just ask. One morning eight year old Jackson asked my husband to make Star Wars pancakes.  Papa was delighted to honor that  request. The pancakes were amazing, and I could have put them on Pinterest if they hadn’t been devoured so quickly.

I’m reminded that we too are God’s children, and He tells us to Ask. Seek. Knock.[1] And to keep on asking, seeking, knocking. And while prayer can seem mysterious and complex, as we head into 2014 I’m thinking in fresh ways about what it means to ask. I realize that it’s easier for me to ask for my children and for others than is it to ask for myself. Why is that? It may be that I am not sure what to ask.

I know He wants to hear from me, because what parent doesn’t want to hear from his or her child?  We delight in them. When adorable three year old Hudson talks to me, I don’t say, “Can you articulate your sentences better?” No! I just love to hear from him and do my best to respond to what he is saying. When I get homesick for our grandbabies, I’ll play their messages on my answering machine. I’ve saved Hogan’s message, “Nana and Papa, I lost my first tooth!”           

Where do we start?

  • Be honest. Ask Him in right where you are. When we let Him in to our most vulnerable places—where we’re most afraid, our deepest anxieties, it is there that He becomes real to us. “You are awesome in this place, mighty God…”[2]
  • Come. Simply come into His presence. Jesus said: “Come unto me, all you that are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28  We come, just as we are. Come with our needs, our wants, our worries.
  • Come with praise. Praise is powerful, because it engages our faith; and God inhabits the praises of His people. The psalmist said, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.”[3] Paul urged, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”[4]
  • Be Still. Ps. 46: 10 “Be still, and know…” Do you find it hard to be still? I do. It is difficult to be still today. Many things call to us. Technology intrudes. My husband and I live in a tiny mountain community, perhaps the quietest place on earth, except when the coyotes howl at midnight. Yesterday I sat in the living room, determined to be still and hear from God.  I had my Bible and journal open, and all I could hear was the muffled sound of the fire in the wood stove. It was quiet.  But oh! the noise inside of me! The old clamoring questions: “What shall I do with my life?” “How can I make a difference in the world? “How can I earn money at my age and place in life?” “How can I get my new book finished and published?’  Ad infinitum! How can I hear God with that clamor going on? As I sat and quietly listened, I realized that the noise inside of me was fear-based, and needed to be stilled.  Perhaps you’re like me: It’s security we want. It’s answers we want! As a parent would say to a sobbing child. “Hush. Take a deep breath. Everything is going to be all right. What do you want me to do for you?” I have come to believe that it is out of the “knowing,” and being still, that we understand what to Ask. Too often I rush into God’s presence, grocery list in hand without waiting and getting to the heart of what I really am to ask.
  • Ask. Seek. Knock.  Matt. 7: 7 & 8 Do you ask?  Do you seek? Do you knock? At Christmas, I spent hours online searching for the “one fabulous present” that certain of my grandchildren wanted until I found it. I was persistent. Matthew 7:7 says to “keep on knocking.” But do I seek for myself? I believe when we finally get still…and know…That’s when we can pray the most effective prayers. That’s when our prayers become larger—Big Picture prayers. That is when we understand what door we need to be knocking on. It’s possible we are banging on the wrong door.
  • Be specific. 2 Kings 4:2; Luke 18:41 The question is asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”  The power goes where the focus is. If we aim at nothing, we hit it every time. Be still. Prayerfully consider, What do you want Jesus to do for you?   And then—ASK Him!   James 4:2 says “We have not because we ask not.”
  • Come with faith!  Reading the Bible helps us learn how to live our prayer life. It not only shows us Christ; it increases our faith, as Romans 10:17 says: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Prayers of faith are powerful prayers. Hebrews 11:6 says “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” Come with faith, even if it’s as tiny as a mustard seed, and God will meet us there.

Life is filled with ragged endings; with unfinished chapters, unfinished stories. Silences. Some things defy easy answers and formulas.  Ultimately, however, God will have the glory in our lives, if we wait on Him. This is God’s promise to us, His child: Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”[5]

God keeps His promises! As we wait on Him, we learn to ask effective, life-changing powerful prayers. As you enter this New Year, take time to Be still. And then respond to Jesus’ question: “What do you want Me to do for you?”[6]

Contact her at [email protected] and visit her website, nanciecarmichael.com


 

[1] Matthew 7:7-11

[2] Genesis 28: 16 & 17

[3] Psalm 100

[4] Phil. 4:6

[5] Ps. 37:4,5

[6] Luke 18:41

Nancie Carmichael

About Nancie Carmichael

Nancie Carmichael and her husband Bill have been involved with the writing and publishing field for many years as they published Virtue Magazine and Christian Parenting Magazine. They now own a book publishing company, Deep River Books. Nancie and Bill have written several books together including: Lord, Bless My Child; and Seven Habits of a Healthy Home. Nancie has written: Your life, God’s Home; Desperate for God: How He Meet Us When We Pray; The Comforting Presence of God; Selah: Time to Stop, Think, and Step into your Future; and her latest book, Surviving One Bad Year—Seven Spiritual Strategies to Lead You to a New Beginning. Bill and Nancie make their home in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and are parents to five married children and grandparents to ten. Nancie received her Master’s of Spiritual Formation from George Fox Evangelical Seminary in 2012, and in 2005, received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Western Baptist College. Website: nanciecarmichael.com

2 Comments

  1. Pamela

    January 14, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Thanks Nancie for the timely reminder.

    The word to be still is particular important since we have so much in us and around us calling for our attention. But to be still completely is to allow God to speak to us and direct us. We need to be still if we’re to live successfully through 2014 and beyond.

    Blessings

    • Nancie

      January 21, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      Hi Pamela…
      Thanks for the feedback
      I think being still may be the biggest challenge we have. But so rewarding!
      With you…that’s is my desire.
      Blessings on you in 2014!

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Time to Ask!