It may seem strange that we need to think about what we are asking God for. Presumably, we have always assumed that we can ask God for anything. When we ask somebody for something, surely, we would want to receive the thing we are asking for. So, it is with God, when we ask, we hope to receive what we ask for. The question then becomes, not whether we should ask, but rather, what would God have us ask for? Surely, we can’t just ask for anything! Some things may be inappropriate or even harmful, yet we may get them if we insist.
Let’s compare two kings with two different inclinations, characterised by what they asked for.
Asking for the foolish: King Midas
If any of you studied Greek mythology at school, you may remember King Midas. He was a kind King. There is mention of when he was kind to a stranger. Unbeknown to King Midas, he was the servant to one of the Greek’s gods. As a thank you for his kindness, King Midas was asked to state one wish. He asked that everything he touched would turn to gold; he wanted to become richer. His wish was immediately granted. He had what was called ‘ The Midas Touch’ aka ‘The Golden Touch’.
Initially all was well as he touched the trees and everything else. However, his happiness was short-lived. He tried to eat an apple, and the apple turned to gold. The same happened when he tried to have a drink- it turned to gold. The last straw was when his daughter came running to hug him. As soon as he embraced her, she turned into a gold statue. He was miserable and begged for his wish to be reversed, and it was. Interestingly, the story at the beginning says that the Greek god who granted the wish, did so knowing that King Midas, though kind, was foolish. Perhaps he needed to learn a lesson?
Ask for the wise: King Solomon
God appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked him what he would like. The Bible clearly shows that Solomon asked for wisdom, though he was given the opportunity to have anything that he desired. Solomon had reasoned that, being a leader of many people, he could not just lead by trial and error, but would need to be guided in right and wrong. Little did he know that by asking for this, he would be given more than he had requested (1 Kings 3:9-14).
Because he asked for such a virtuous thing, God also blessed him with material wealth, honour and long life. Solomon is known as the wisest man that has ever lived. He went on to achieve many great things. These include building God’s temple, writing the book of Proverbs which amongst other things, widely contrasts the foolish and wise man.
How will what you ask for benefit others?
We mustn’t ask for foolish things that can temporarily satisfy us or that can most likely ruin our lives. Though not in every case, these are usually material or sensual things. We should not ask for self-serving or selfish things, things that benefit only us. Material things are not bad in themselves, a love for them and putting them first is – we cannot serve two masters. Just remember that the things that are seen are temporary. Those are usually the foolish things to ask for. Focus on things that please God, the invisible things.
What the Bible teaches us
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you (Matthew 6:33). Therefore, our mindset in asking for things, should be kingdom-minded, and God will take care of the rest. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:2): the emphasis is in always pleasing God. God will grant our hearts desires – but like someone once said, not just everything we want, but everything according to his good and perfect will.
When we walk closely to God, his desires will become our desires, and so of course he will grant us what we desire, because it is what he desires. Be careful what you ask for, because you might just get it! King Midas did! And in the end, it was a curse!
In all that we ask for, let’s be long and not short-sighted. What is the far-reaching result of what we ask for? We need to ask for things in-line with godly principles, or within God’s will, to ensure we will get them and that we will want what we get: This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us (1 John 5:14).
King Solomon was asked by God to name one thing he wanted to have. Rather than asking for material possessions he asked for wisdom. King Midas personifies foolishness, while King Solomon, wisdom.
Being role models for this generation
As a leader, such as a parent, a youth leader or pastor, you have the potential and opportunity to influence the young generation. Cultivate and encourage children, teenagers and young adults to ask wisely. Even more importantly, model your prayers around asking God for wise things: ask for things that last – things that give you influence. Examples are things that move you closer to God. For example, the fruit of the spirit, a heart after God, to become a true worshipper, a prayer warrior, a word warrior, to become a person after God’s own heart (like David).
If you could make just ONE wish, or God could answer just ONE prayer, what would it be? Your answer will reflect your inclination!