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Are You Asking For A Snake Or A Fish?

When I first got married, my husband and I were assigned by our mission group

to serve in Hong Kong. Every day we would walk to work on sidewalks full of animal

cages for people to pick out for their next meal. I always was a bit nervous walking by

the cages of snakes, but I knew this was a delicacy there. One morning during my

devotions, I was studying Matthew 7 and came upon this verse: “You parents – if your

children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a

fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give

good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to

those who ask him” (Matthew 7:9-11). I chuckled as I thought of my Chinese friends

reading this and saying, “I would definitely give my son a snake over a fish!” Anyway,

we get the point. The Lord Jesus is using this analogy to encourage us not to fear

asking the heavenly Father for things. He also compares us to children in this passage.

I hate to admit how many times I have begged God like a little child pleading with his

mother to eat a candy bar twenty minutes before dinner. Moms, can you relate?

Today in my devotions, I was reading another passage about prayer. “If any of

you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault,

and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). I have read this verse many times, but today the

phrase “who gives generously” jumped out at me. Fears that God will not answer my

prayers drives the desperation of my petitions when pain, danger, or loss are involved. I

wish I could say I repetitiously spout out the same prayers because the Word says to

“pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), but often what fuels my prayers is doubt

that God will and can answer me.

James and Paul have a much better handle on the power of prayer. In James

1:5, we are assured that if our need is for wisdom, God will lead us with the words that

guide us to our next steps. Too often I focus on my own needs and specific prayer

requests when what I really need is wisdom. In James 1:5, we are reminded that God

will generously answer the prayers we have for wisdom. The challenge then is for us to

patiently wait for His answer which will be delivered when God knows we need it. He

calls us to wait patiently for His response and don’t run ahead before He gives the next


Don’t leave your meditation on this verse before you notice that God will not

judge you for your requests. No matter how silly you may think your prayers are, or that

you have asked the same requests many times, the Lord welcomes your prayers. He

will answer in His time and His way.

So by now you are saying, “Yes, but what about the times when I pray for things

besides wisdom?” Is it okay to ask for something again and again? Don’t worry, our

Father is much more patient than we are. Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you;

seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who

asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened”

(Matthew 7:7-8). Whether you are asking for a candy bar, healing from a disease,

mending of a relationship, or a snake (oops, fish), don’t hesitate to ask ─ our Lord is a

generous God!

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