Originally Published April 3, 2020
Ask Again.

“Mom, can I have a fruit snack?”
“No, dude. It’s almost time for dinner.”
“Mom, can I have a fruit snack?”
“Nope, Buddy. I already gave you an answer.”
“Mom, can I have a fruit snack?”
“No. Do not ask again.”

Parenting teaches me a lot about God’s love for me. It taught me the truth of his unending love and his welcoming love for me when I repent – I’d rather my kids talk to me when they need help than run from me. It taught me the that sometimes God disciplines me to keep me from worse harm – ever swat a toddler’s hand to keep her from touching a hot stove eye or fireplace? But human parents are not perfect examples of our Heavenly Father. I am impatient, fallible, and completely human.

This week I was reading in 1 Kings. In the beginning of chapter 17, Elijah tells King Ahab it will not rain until Elijah say it will. After three years of drought, we find Elijah as he challenges the prophets of Baal to pray to Baal to send fire. After it becomes abundantly clear that no fire will be coming from Baal, Elijah makes an alter, and drenches it, filling a trench around it with water. He asks God to send fire and God does – a fire that consumes the offering, the alter and the water. The wayward nation of Israel falls on their faces and praises God before executing all the prophets of Baal. From the chain of events, it seems that there was little if any delay between Elijah’s prayer and God’s answer. It is a powerful picture of our omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God.

Okay, let’s be real – rarely do we pray and see immediate results. More often God’s answer is not now, not that way, or sometimes just no. Now as a parent, I understand this. I know that my children don’t always know what is best for them. I know that granting my 4 year old’s request for fruit snacks in the half hour before dinner will result in him not eating his dinner and then being hungry when it is time for bed. I know how it will play out right down to the pouty lips and tears in his Christmas pajamas that he is still wearing in April. I know that the sugary goodness will pacify his hunger and give him a sugar rush, temporarily meeting his hunger, but because of that pacified hunger, he won’t eat the good food I’m making him to nourish his body and help him grow. I also know that God often looks at us like I look at my child saying, “No, what you want is not what you need. I have better things planned for you – just wait.”

But does God grow impatient with me, like I do my child? Does He give a heavy sigh and say. “I’m already given you an answer. Stop Asking.” when I repeat requests day after day?

If you keep reading in chapter 18, Elijah tells King Ahab it is going to rain. Then Elijah goes to the top of Mount Carmel and “bowed down on the ground and put his face between his knees.” (1 Kings 18:42) He tells his servant to go look towards the sea. There’s nothing. Elijah tells his servant to go again. This repeats seven times before the servant sees a small cloud. Rain is finally coming. But it did not come immediately – at his first request.

What a contrast! Elijah’s earlier prayer for fire from Heaven was answered immediately, but here, he must keep praying—and God is glorified from his continual and continued prayer. What if he had stopped? Maybe thought “Oops! I thought this was a good idea, but this is getting embarrassing for me to keep praying!” Instead he continues – and God DOES answer.

Reading these verses, I thought of my own impatient parenting. How I’m kind the first few times, but eventually say, “Stop asking.” A few days later, I was still pondering these verses when I came across these two quotes:

“Some people think that God does not like to be trouble with our constant coming and asking. The only way to trouble God is not to come at all.” – D.L. Moody

“Perhaps the reason God delays this answer to our prayers is because He knows we need to be with Him far more than we need the things we ask of Him.” – Ben Patterson

I’m not God. My response to my child here is not wrong in itself, but I realized, I cannot allow my reaction to shape how I view God. He is not annoyed at my repeated petitions. My response is not His response. He wants me to keep asking – to keep talking to Him. I gain more from asking than getting. Each request I make chips away at the gap between His desires and my desires – aligning my will more and more with His.

What are the things that you have asked for over and over?
Salvation of a family member? Miraculous healing? Guidance in heavy decisions? Freedom from addiction?
Ask again. He’s there in the asking.

Truthfully yours,