And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full (John 16:23-24).
I spoke to someone of a while back about presumption and answered prayer. Some people have the idea that we can just ask for anything we want, and, because God promises to answer prayer, we can get whatever we desire. While that could be true in a technical sense, it is very unwise. And this kind of attitude reeks with spiritual immaturity.
God has promised to answer our requests. I could cite here numerous scriptures to the affirmative. But we are called, not to do as we please, and just selfishly spout out requests to the Lord off the cuff, but to be branches of the vine. We are called to allow Jesus to live His life in us. We are extensions of Jesus and His ministry. Jesus came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father who sent Him.
Here’s an example. God wanted Israel to be a nation of kings and priests. But Israel wanted a king like other nations. God told Israel that a king would make life very hard for them and that He had a better way for them. But Israel persisted in their request, and God granted them a king even though it wasn’t His highest and best for them.
I’ve learned to be very careful as to what I ask for in prayer. It takes me longer to wait on God in prayer and find out how He wants me to pray and exercise my faith about a matter than it does to actually pray. The prayer of faith doesn’t take a lot of time to pray.
Don’t just run into personal prayer and ask for something off the top of your head. The major key to effective personal prayer is to spend the time necessary to feel the Father’s heart before you pray. Jesus said it best: If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done for you (John 15:7). Abiding, living, fellowshipping, and being intimate with Jesus is the key to prayer without being presumptuous.
David said it this way: Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). When you put God first place in your life, He will place in you a desire to do what He wants you to do. You see, we’re not calling the shots, He is! And He knows what’s best for us.
I’m discussing here the gray areas of life that the Bible doesn’t have a specific answer to give. I know how to pray for healing or finances, or for something that is clearly revealed in scripture. But it’s the in between areas, like where you should work, or who you should marry, or whether or not to buy that house, or some other thing that is really up to you to make a decision. These things must be prayerfully pondered or you could end up with a result you weren’t looking for! That’s what happened to Israel.
Pray before you exercise your faith, and make sure that what you’re asking for in these gray areas of life are God’s highest and best for you!