The Right Way To Ask And Receive

prayer, Philippians 4:6, supplicationWhat is our first response to a problem or need?  When an obstacle appears, what do we do?  Do we worry?  Do we apply critical thinking and try to come up with the best plan?  As children of God, our first response should always be to approach our Heavenly Father in prayer.

Consider Philippians 4:6.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6 (NASB)

Right away, we can see that the best response to a problem or need is to take it directly to God in humility and thanksgiving.  I believe that many Christians have been taught that this is the right way but often fail to follow through with it.  We let the worry and strife occupy our thoughts instead of using our will to focus on God and His provision.  Thankfully, this can be learned and part of the process of becoming a mature believer is to learn to take it to the Lord as our first response.

Once we have given our focus and our thoughts to the Lord and have placed our petition at His feet, what comes next?  In my mind, this is where trust and obey becomes most important.  We can learn to pray all day but until we do so in faith and trust then we are just as likely to fall back into worry as anything else.  And because it is God who increases our faith, part of our daily walk with Him should be to continually ask Him to increase our faith and to help us learn to lean on Him more and more.  If we can do this during the times of relative calm then when the next storm comes we will be that much more prepared to stand firm in Him.

Finally, if we are praying about a need and we are looking for an answer to our prayer then we must stay in a place where we can see and receive that answer.  For example, even if I have laid my petition at His feet and have trusted Him to bring about the answer in His time but then go and engage in sinful practices then it is likely that I will miss God’s answer to my prayer.  If I am watching a movie or show that I know does not please the Lord or if I allow my temper to get the best of me and I quarrel with a brother or sister then my greatest need is repentance and I will not be in a place where I can really see or understand what God is doing around me.  I call this “being out of position” and because we are still human beings living in a fallen world it is a very easy thing to do.

Being out of position does not mean that God won’t answer my prayer.  Our sinfulness has never been an impediment to God’s will being carried out (praise God for that!).  But it does mean that I may not be able to perceive how God has answered my prayer and I will certainly miss the blessing that comes from being intimately involved with God’s work here on Earth.

I also want to emphasize that God works through human hands and human minds.  It is a good thing when we make a plan, commit it to the Lord and then follow through in a way that would please Him.  Taking a problem or need to God does not mean that we then sit on our hands and do nothing.  Part of trusting and obeying is to continue to do those things that we know are right and to do our very best to solve problems with what we have already been given.  Trust God to work while we are also working.  He will always take what little we have to offer and multiply it to great effect.

God’s Provision for a New Year

provision, Philippians 4, faithLast year is over.  A new year has begun.  While making New Year’s Resolutions might be the popular thing to do, as God’s people we are assured that we don’t have to wait until a new year in order to turn over a new leaf.  God says “Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2) and God’s help and provision are always present tense and available right now to all who would receive.

Maybe last year wasn’t a good year for us.  Maybe there were circumstances that brought pain and sorrow or perhaps we found ourselves in a place of regret over mistakes that were made.  Maybe we began this new year with a hope for something better but without a concrete plan for positive change.

I’m here to tell you, God has what you need.  In his letter to the church at Philipi, Paul offered encouragement and Godly wisdom which is still applicable to us today and can completely transform our lives if we will put it in to practice.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:4-7 (NASB)

Thankfulness in all things and in all circumstances is the first step.  No matter what’s happening and no matter how we feel at the moment, we can express our thanks to God.  Not that all things are good or desirable, but that God Himself is always worthy of our thanks and that His salvation and Spirit sustains us even in the midst of the darkest days.  And with that thankful heart we are then in a perfect position to offer up our prayers and requests to God who is able to provide for all of our needs.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19 (NASB)

Once we have decided to be thankful (and it is a conscious decision that we must make) and offered up our earnest prayers to God, then God Himself will provide an incredible peace which is able to do a miraculous thing for us.  God’s peace will “guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”!  This is a wonderful promise because a heart and mind that is guarded by God’s peace is one that is not easily moved or swayed by the evil of this world and can begin to be a light for others.  In other words, this is the foundation for a vital and growing faith that we must exercise and put to daily use.

Ultimately it is God who controls our circumstances and much of what happens around us is outside of our ability to change.  What is possible and expected of us is to become all that God would have us to be by putting His word into practice.  We must trust God with our lives and with our needs and most importantly, with our hearts and minds.  There is no blessing that God will withhold from the one who is completely surrendered to Him and there is no power in this world that can overcome those that are committed to doing His will.