Praying hands on BibleMany times we ask God for the wrong things. Our ambition is often too low or our thoughts too earthly to ask for the gifts He wants to give us. This leaves us with less because we don’t ask well.

In John 5, there is an invalid sitting by a supposedly magic pool. Jesus asks the man “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6) and the man says “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up” (v 7). Jesus does not give the man what he wants, a person to help him into the pool, instead Jesus gives him something better. “Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’ And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.” (v 8-9).

We can fixate on comfort, safety, peace, and happiness when we should be asking for God alone to satisfy us. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the blessings of this life, but if we crave the gifts God wants to give us, we must stop looking to the magical pool and start looking to Jesus.

In Mark 2 (and Luke 5 and Matthew 9) we read of another immobile man. Luckily, this man has friends who bring him on a stretcher to Jesus. But, Jesus is teaching in a packed house, so “when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay” (Mark 2:4). They hope that after their effort Jesus will heal their friend. Jesus does heal their friend in verse 11, but not before he does something else. “And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ ” (v 5). This is not what the men came seeking, but it is what Jesus gave them.

We sometimes ask for our physical needs and neglect to ask for our spiritual needs. It’s not wrong to ask God to provide for us and heal us. Moses (Numbers 12:13), Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:1-3), and Paul (2 Corinthians 12:8) all prayed for their health or the health of another. Jesus commands us in the model prayer to pray for our daily bread because Yahweh has always been a god of healing (Exodus 15:26) and provision (Leviticus 26:3-4). Yet, we must learn from Jesus’ teaching in John 6:27, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life”. God is the one that gives us everything we need. Our most important needs are forgiveness and the Spirit’s renewal. This is what we should ask for without neglecting the others.

God wants to give us all good things (Romans 8:32), but He desires that we ask him. Let us have confidence to ask for the blessings God wants to give us and not be limited by a worldly mind or a feeble request. Then will we fulfill the command of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11).

Ask God for better things. Trust that God will provide.