Learn to Ask, Not Instruct
As you pray, learn to ask but not instruct. Remember that God already knows what he will do to answer your prayers. Hallesby says:
"We think we should help God answer our prayers. We think we should suggest how he should go about giving us the answer. Even though we do not give expression to it, we think like this. ‘Dear God, this is what I am earnestly asking of thee. I know that it is difficult, but if thou wilt do so and so, thou canst accomplish it.’” (Prayer, 47)
We make use of prayer for the purpose of commanding God to do our bidding. We need to stop asking for printouts or progress reports.
I think of Jesus’ testing His disciples in the Gospel accounts. After teaching the multitudes and healing the sick, He told the disciples to feed the people. “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked Philip (John 6:5). Then the Scripture says, “He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do” (v.6). Philip failed the test, for he didn’t relate the need to the Christ who could meet it. He didn’t say, “Lord, feed the multitude and do it your way. Show me how to be a part of the answer.” Instead he left Christ out of the reckoning and set about forming a committee and working on a budget (v.7)! Philip looked at a multitude of need and gave up.
In The Message, Eugene Peterson renders Jesus’ words in Mark 11:23: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’… and it’s as good as done.” This “God-life,” as Peterson calls it, is the life of faith. It works on the basis of trust and obedience, and its lifeblood is prayer. Its basis is helplessness, and its chief word is ask. “Ask. Just ask me,” says Jesus, “and see what I will do for you. Ask me, and don’t tell me how.”
Jill Briscoe is the Founder and Executive Editor of Just Between Us magazine and ministry.