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