In the bible, Jesus teaches his followers some radical things, like the idea that you can directly ask God for things that we want. And while that may not seem like some amazing new idea at first glance, what an abstract idea for most Christians! Sure, we all get that we can ask God for spiritual things, but what about asking God for a little extra cash this month? a wife? to get out of jury duty? for an easier job? To win concert tickets from a local radio station? or to find your missing wallet?
A lot of us would balk at these requests. Right? These aren’t the things of God, they are our own personal endeavors. Right? And didn’t Augustine say “Ask nothing of God, save God himself”?. In his great, GREAT book A Praying Life, Paul Miller addresses this, saying,
If we ask nothing of God, we are left adrift in an evil world. Such a position may feel spiritual because it seems unselfish, but it is unbiblical because it separates the real world of our desires from God’s world. The kingdom can’t come because it is floating (p.122)
The temptation for the spiritual man to over-spiritualize everything to the point of asceticism is huge. Especially because in the context of today’s Christian culture, that kind of guy can be really really popular. When we stop letting our real self meet with the real God, we are in danger of abandoning grace itself.
“Woah Nick, that is a presumptuous jump there, don’t you think?”. Not at all, and let me explain. All of our prayers will not be answered because not all of our requests are good for us. But if you don’t, as Christians, interact with God authentically, honestly and even sinfully then is it really you in relationship with God? Because we are all authentically sinful. But our sin hates the grace that God offers us in Christ. The grace that says “you are wicked, but because of Jesus you are free to call the Creator of the universe father”. This is wonderful, but to accept it, it takes some serious humility. You can’t think that you are hot stuff AND come to accept the pity and charity of God. Like the prophet Isaiah said
“The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord,
and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 29:19)
And that is hard to accomplish when you are doing all the right things. Plus, Jesus repeatedly tells us to engage him and to bother him like a little kid would with their father. Just as the Apostle James said “ You do not have, because you do not ask.” (James 4:2).
So I encourage you, Christian, drop your guard with your heavenly Father. Ask, seek, knock. Tell him your fears, your worries and your frustrations. This will transform your spiritual life and in turn, the rest of your life (as much as you’d not like it to, the spiritual life affects and is affected by every part of your life). And slowly, by the grace of God, that floating kingdom will come out of the clouds and prove to be the only place worth living.