Answering “Yes”

Written on

September 21, 2018

Sometimes, as a parent I feel like all I ever say is “no.”

Sometimes, it seems like my kids have lost their common sense to ask me some of the things that they ask me.

Sometimes, they realize this before they ever ask. Anyone of them will preface their question with the phrase, “I know what you’re gonna say, but ________.”

My response to this last tactic is to ask them back, “Then why are you asking me?!”

The thing is, I think they know something. Not that it is likely that I will change precedent, but that they know that I WANT to say “yes.”

I want to make them happy, to give them what they want, and to enthusiastically grant their wishes. (Even if their greatest wish at that moment is to eat a large bowl of ice-cream 5 minutes before dinner – I mean, who doesn’t want to eat dessert first?!)

As our perfect, heavenly Father I believe God wants the same thing we do as parents. He wants to say “yes!”

We can trust that He will always say the right thing to us at the right time. He is always faithful to keep His word to provide for us what, when and how -whatever we need – most often without our “pleases” and “thank yous.”

Too often I come to Him with my long grocery list of requests, some more sincere and heartfelt than others. Too often I come to Him assuming I know how He is going to answer my prayers before I ask them – if I decide to ask them at all. My lack of faith paralyzes me from even uttering many prayers . . .
Yet, He still wants me to pray, to ask, to seek Him.

If I want God to answer a prayer with a “yes” how then should I pray?

What are the prayers that God always answers “yes” to?

Anytime I have asked for more of Him – His presence, His wisdom, His glory, His Being – He has always shown up, revealing Himself to me, growing my faith and opening my eyes to Him.

Anytime I have confessed my sin – my pride, my prejudices, my desire for lesser things – He has always been faithful to forgive me, to restore me and to change me.

Anytime I have been hurt or lonely or afraid and I have simply whispered His name – He has always been there, proving His presence to me and giving me hope to press on.

How does He do it? How does He communicate all of that to me?

At times through worship or an encouraging friend’s kind words – but always, always, always through His Word.

If I want to pray prayers that God will answer with a “yes” I need to know how to pray – not to get my desired results, but His. How do I know what God desires? By being in His Word, by reading how Jesus prayed, by learning His character . . .

Although, my tendency is not to approach Bible study and Bible reading this way. I want to check it off my to do list or add to my list of religious accomplishments – not really glean an applicable truth for my life.

I came across this quote recently on Instagram:

“…taking in his words at a more reflective and enjoyable (you might even say ‘leisurely’) pace – rather than rushing through to cover as much ground as possible. I remind myself that the goal is to find food for my soul . . . not check boxes and just avail my mind of additional biblical data . . Call it ‘eating mindfully’. . . whatever you call it, finding a slower pace goes hand-in-hand with faithfully gathering a day’s portion.” – David Mathis

I realized that in my task-oriented day with my long list of responsibilities it is easy for me to miss what I really need when I read God’s Word. As my loving, Heavenly Father, He wants to speak to me. He wants to spend quality time with me. Like a child with a short attention span or an easily distracted teen, I trade this opportunity for an audience with the King of the World for lesser things. 
When I am honest with myself and with Him – I don’t want the kind of relationship He wants to have with me. I want the things He can give me or do for me. I don’t want Him. This is painfully evident in an objective look in how I pray . . . SO often I pray and “obey” thinking He doesn’t already know my real motives. My prayers are feeble attempts to manipulate Him into giving me “yeses” for the things I want.
1 Chronicles 16:11 tells me to “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually.” In all transparency – I don’t want to do that. That does not sound like fun. That seems boring. 
So, what should I do? I have found to ask God something that He will always answer with a “yes.” 
Anytime, any of us asks Him to give us a deeper, more real desire to be with Him, to be in His word, to want to want Him – He always answers “YES!”
The process of how He answers that prayer may be hard and even painful. Deuteronomy 30:6 tells us: “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your off-spring, so that you will love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” 

Obviously, I have never experienced physical circumcision. I do know that it involves cutting. I can imagine that it could be very painful in very sensitive ways. This spiritual circumcision of our hearts is no different. 
What does God use to cut out the bad parts of our hearts, the parts that want the gifts but not the Giver? 
His Word. Check out Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, discerning the thoughts and intensions of the heart.”

Now that’s sharp. 
And it’s another reason to be in, really in – His Word. 
Notice that as parents, that the above verse from Deuteronomy says that God will circumcise the hearts of our off-spring as well. As we read and are in the Word, we must expose our kids to it too. As much as I want God to answer my prayers with “yeses” I want Him to answer their prayers that way too . . . How am I teaching them to pray? How am I teaching them to read God’s Word? What is the example that I am setting?
I want to answer my kids with “yes,” and I want God to answer me with “yes.” What’s the condition of my heart? What does His Word say about it? Is it about me and what I want OR is it all about Him and what He wants?
Prayer and Bible study go hand-in-hand and are both necessities of spiritual growth. How we pray and what we pray for is directly impacted by what we learn from what God communicates to us in His Word. 

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