Am I Out of Asks?

by Katie Polski May 8, 2024

“Thank you, Lord,” I uttered when I got off the phone with my doctor. A few months before I had been diagnosed with melanoma, and a few days after the surgery, I received the welcomed news that the cancer had not spread. The Lord kindly answered my prayer.

Several weeks later I sat on our couch praising God for answering yet another specific prayer in the way we had hoped. I then moved on to pray about an additional weighty matter, but I stopped.

My sin and skepticism got the best of me, and I thought, Am I out of asks? “Oh, but God,” I muttered, “Please hear this one.” I have experienced the Lord not answering my prayer in the way I hoped, so fear unexpectedly gripped my heart as I prayed, pleaded, doubted, and as I wondered whether I had used up my asks of God.

But this is not the way our Father works. Every area of our existence is tainted by sin so that even our prayer life is replete with our brokenness. But a careful look at others in the Bible who pleaded with God reveals for us the character of God which shapes the way we ask of him.

Through Moses: Prayer Reveals God’s Relationship with His Children

Moses prays to God throughout the book of Exodus, and it is remarkable how dialogical his prayers are. They reveal a deep relationship between Moses and his Creator. On many occasions, Moses is invited into a conversation with God, and his dialogue with him, while often sequential, is also very relational. He prays, he asks, but in doing so, he desires to know more about God. He says in Exodus 33:13, “please show me now your ways.”

There is an intimacy to his ask, and God answers his request in the next verse: “My presence will go with you” (33:14). In essence, Moses asks of God, Please let me in on your plans to experience your presence! And God answers, I will always be with you, Moses.

When we ask of God, our prayers do not function like a business transaction. Rather, when we come to the Lord with requests, we are leaning into the relationship that God desires to have with his children. He wants you to ask of him boldly and frequently because doing so strengthens your relationship with him.

God hears, he answers in his timing and according to his perfect will, and the more we talk to him, the more we understand that prayer is not just about getting what we want. Prayer is a dialogue that causes us to abide in our Savior and connect to him so much so that all he is pours out in and through us.

Through David: Prayer Reveals God’s Mercy with His Children

The way David honestly pours out his heart to God throughout the Psalms is an encouragement for believers in Jesus. His prayers express anger (Ps. 10), doubt (Ps. 13), and sometimes deep, deep sadness (Ps. 88). What is remarkable is God’s never-ending mercy and gentleness with David. Even as an adulterer and murderer, David is treated by God with kindness and patience as God inclines his ear and draws near to a man whose emotions run the gamut. What’s beautiful is that David acknowledges in Psalm 18:35 that it is the gentleness of God that has made him great. He knows the depth and significance of his Savior’s mercy through his many failings, and not only is he grateful for it, but he has learned from it.

We do not ask of a God who is harsh and volatile. The perception of God as a violent storm ready to consume those who ask too much of him is not what the Bible teaches us about his character. He is just and holy (Deut. 32:4; 1 Sam. 2:2) and deserving of our reverence, but he is also gentle and merciful, willing and wanting to carry our greatest burdens (Ps. 55:22). Mercy and justice mingle necessarily; his mercy toward his children springs forth from his justice, and we see this throughout David’s prayers in the Psalms.

Ask of your Father with honesty, child of God. He already knows the deepest longings of your heart, so there is no need to fear openness before him. Our Father is patient and merciful as we learn through our doubts and uncertainties of his matchless mercy and grace.

Through Paul: Prayer Reveals God’s Perfect Sovereignty

Paul had a thorn in his flesh, something that regularly caused him grief. I have a thorn in my flesh, an area of weakness which I regularly ask God to take away. I imagine most believers empathize with the constant, dull pangs from these thorns that we wish we could be entirely freed from.

Paul pleads with God for the thorn to be removed (2 Cor. 12:8), and you can almost sense the emotional exhaustion from his prayer. We don’t know what exactly his thorn is, but we do know that he asks for it to be taken away persistently and honestly. But God does not remove it.

Instead, he answers Paul’s ask with these words: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul sees one way forward in his ministry, and that is the removal of this thing that causes him distress. But God sees a greater way forward. He leaves the thorn and lavishes on Paul his grace. Interestingly, the Apostle does not lament this; instead, he rejoices because God takes him to a place of miraculous strength and power that he would not have experienced otherwise.

There are times when God’s answer to our ask is not what we hoped for. But there is no need to fear this outcome because our Father consistently answers better than we ask. We are not the author of stories, nor should we want to be. The heart of God is such that he answers us in ways that are more stunning than we could ever imagine (Eph. 3:20). We can trust this will be the case with every prayer uttered to our Father. Ask of him. You can never ask too much, nor can you ask too many times. Your Father loves to answer your prayers with his unconditional love and incomparable glory. As his child, you are never out of asks.

How does God's Word impact our prayers?

God invites His children to talk with Him, yet our prayers often become repetitive and stale. How do we have a real conversation with God? How do we come to know Him so that we may pray for His will as our own?

In the Bible, God speaks to us as His children and gives us words for prayer—to praise Him, confess our sins, and request His help in our lives.

We’re giving away a free eBook copy of Praying the Bible, where Donald S. Whitney offers practical insight to help Christians talk to God with the words of Scripture.