John the Baptist pointed his disciples towards Jesus “The Lamb of God” and two of them, probably Andrew and John started following the Lord. John was always clear about his role on the earth – to lead others to Christ for he stated “I must diminish and He must increase”. In today’s scenario is following Christ enough? The important aspect is why we are following Him- for if it is for our own purposes it would amount to asking Him to follow us – asking Him to align with our plans and purposes and advance our cause. Lord Jesus asked those two disciples “What do you want” and the question remains open before every believer to provide an answer to the savior.
Does God really ask? – “God created a garden to the east of Eden and there He put the man whom He had created” (Genesis 2:8) and this garden contained everything to meet all possible needs of both Adam and Eve. God’s asking may not always be direct but His blessings provide us the answer as well as the question. Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat to fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil or they would surely die. The question was clear – What do you want – life or death? In similar manner Noah was informed “The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Genesis 6:13-14). The question was again clear – what do you want – to live or perish with others? Noah was given the freedom to choose either option and though God knew the answer beforehand, the question was still made open. Abraham was commanded by God in a similar manner to change his lifestyle and leave his kin to move a new place, location of which was not disclosed to him. He moved by faith and is today considered the father of many nations/races on earth with the Jews, Christians and Moslems laying claim to his ancestry. The blessings will always follow a choice and an effort at genuine change of heart – most times with change of location also.
Why does the ‘All-knowing God’ ask? – God’s act of creation was not out of some necessity but out of love, for “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork” (psalm 19:1). God has all the answers yet like a loving Father He gives us the chance to make a choice – though knowing our decision in advance, He has made provisions accordingly. God “searches the heart, tries the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10). The asking is to provide man a chance to reveal his thoughts and feelings before Him to receive His blessings according to our deeds. God definitely honors those who honor Him and abhors those who show disregard for Him by disobeying His statutes. Eli, the High Priest was thus punished for his sin of “honoring his sons above God” by overlooking their sinful deeds in the service of God in His temple (1 Samuel 2:28-32).
The command for ‘holy living, for I, your God am holy’ cannot be trifled with and obedience is the first step in this direction. All commands of the Scripture are therefore in the form of an open question with a pre-revealed result of the denial. The Holy God had issued a clear command to destroy all the evil things of the Amalekites to King Saul, but his greed prevented him from doing this. Though he tried to cover this by offering the live-stock as an offering to the Lord, he was rejected by God and David chosen as king (1 Samuel 15:3;9;22-23). An attitude of deceitfulness is an outright rejection of the good option provided by God in the opening question.
Lord Jesus has provided us with the model prayer where the central prominent thread is “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10) and at the most trying time of His sojourn on earth our Lord and Savior again echoed the same message in Gethsemane Park. In answer to His own Son’s prayer also the question was still the same what do you want – eternal separation from Me through escaping this temporary suffering or eternal glory? King Solomon prayed to God and offered one thousand burnt offerings before dedication of the Temple and God appeared to him in his dream with the same question – “Ask what I shall give you”. Solomon asked for ‘wisdom and knowledge’ to be able to rule God’s people – the Israelites. God not only accepted this prayer but also granted “riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had nor have in future” (1 Chronicles 1:6-12). We must be clear in advance about our demands beforehand for God may surprise anyone at any time.
Is there any condition also laid down? – Moses came to know about his ancestors being Jewish and thereafter attempted to rescue them from the bondage of Egyptians on his own and ended up killing an Egyptian man. His own people did not accept his intervention and Moses had to flee into the wilderness and live with Jethro’s clan and married his daughter. But when God decided to send him as a savior for his people God revealed His name for the first time and to allay his fears asked him only one question “What is in your hand?” God blessed the simple shepherd’s rod that Moses had and turned it into a mighty weapon to perform various miracles during the next forty years through that rod. David ended his reign with prayer to God and sought offerings for construction of the Temple (1 Chronicles 28:1 & 29:1) and Solomon started his by offering 1,000 burnt offerings before God after speaking to the Israelites (2 Chronicles 1:2-6). And God appeared to Solomon in the dream to bless him knowledge and wisdom. Abraham fought five kings with 318 of his servants and after victory offered tithe of all that he had to Melchizedek but himself took nothing of the loot recovered during the battle (Genesis 14:20-23). It was after this that God promised to Abraham to be “his shield and exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1). We cannot bribe God with our offerings or donations for God as Creator owns everything and does not need anything from us (Psalm 50:9-13).
Prophet Elijah was commanded by God to move from the brook of Cherith near Jordan to Zarephath where a widow was to look after him during the remaining days of the famine. Elijah asked for some water and then a small piece of bread also which she reluctantly agreed for she had barely enough to cook for her son and herself to eat their last meal and die. But her obedience ensured blessings on what she had and ensured that the little flour and oil in her house did not finish during the period of famine (1 Kings 17:10-16). Another widow of a prophet sought Prophet Elisha’s help in paying off the debts of her husband and save her sons from becoming slaves of the money-lender. Elisha asked her “What do you have in your house?” and the little oil in the pot was blessed by him. The oil flow carried on till all the vessels of all sizes borrowed by her were filled and there was no more empty vessels were left (2 Kings 4:1-7).
There are no conditions but God blesses what we have to use the same for performing great miracles that bless many others. Lord Jesus was followed by great multitudes everywhere He went and He always showed compassion and love for them and whoever was brought to Him “He healed them all” and blessed them. A large group of people that followed Him into the wilderness were fed by Him bringing great blessings to 5,000 families after asking for whatever was available. Only five barley loaves and two fish were placed before Him and the large crowd not only had their fill but twelve large baskets were filled with the leftovers (Matthew 14:14-17). Everything belongs to God (Psalm 50:9-13) and we offer Him fruits of our lips by praising Him for His love, compassion and mercies (Hebrews 13:15). But whatever we offer Him is it really from the depth of our heart or is like the Pharisees and Sadducees we also do only lip service (Matthew 15:8)? God has given great power to us through the words that we speak for “God said and it came to be” and in like manner our tongue also has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21) but are we speaking ourselves away from our goal?
How do we receive this power? – We are made in God’s image and likeness and were given authority over everything and Lord Jesus has retaken that same authority and power back from Satan. Our Lord is seated on His throne to bless us with this same power that we use in His name. God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20) and the Holy Spirit in us fills us with this power. The Savior has empowered us to “trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means hurt you” but our rejoicing is for inclusion of our names in heaven (Luke 10:19-20). Lord Jesus further blessed us with authority and power to forgive or retain the sins of anyone and our word will be honored by Him in heaven (John 20:23). True to His word before confusing the languages of people to break their total agreement, Lord Jesus has given His word to answer our prayers when we, two or more, ask anything in agreement with each other. We have the authority given by our Lord to bind anything evil on earth as also lose anything good bound by evil forces (Matthew 18:18-19).
All this authority is given to us when we accept Lord Jesus as our Savior and bow down to surrender to His authority. We have this immense power vested in us believers and we exercise this through our spoken word in His name.
What and how do we ask? – Lord Jesus came down to earth and took on human form to establish the “Father’s Kingdom” here. This kingdom is presently of heaven and not of this world and we as believers are partners in establishing this kingdom. The indwelling Holy Spirit establishes this kingdom in our hearts and helps us turn towards holiness for God and His kingdom are both holy. The power to ask and receive pertains to the essentials about furthering the cause of the same kingdom and anything not in tune with this is unlikely to come through. When we ask, most of our prayers are related to things of this world for our own personal benefit only and may impinge upon the rights of someone else. God being just and fair cannot allow such an imbalance. That is why Lord Jesus is emphatic “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Greek word ‘basiliah’ has been translated as kingdom and it means the realm which a king rules. God has commanded “Love your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your strength” (Luke 10:27) and heart, mind and soul represent all thoughts, feelings and emotions and thus God wants to be at the center of our whole being- the basic focus. The second word for righteousness of God is ‘dikah yo sunay’ which means God’s judicial approval.
How do we achieve this? – To assess our obedience of His command God “searches all hearts and examines secret motives, to give all people their due rewards according to what their actions deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10). We use years of our lives to reach a stage where we finally turn towards God but we expect Him to turn the fruits of all our misdeeds into blessings in a moment. And then we complain to be righteous in our deeds without seeking His righteousness. Prayer is a means to follow God to do His will and not to ask Him to follow us or do our will. The two sisters Mary and Martha of Bethany were vying for caring for the Lord, while Martha was busy arranging for food and other comforts for the Lord Jesus, Mary sat at His feet to listen to His teachings. Mary was commended by the Lord for “choosing what is better and what cannot be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).
What do you want? – God resides within each believer with the Holy Spirit and before we start speaking out our prayers, He probably wants to bless us by asking and answering these two questions. We all have so many dreams and visions of what we desire to do for His kingdom and feel ours is the only right way. But we tend to forget that “All power and authority is vested in Him” and He can do what He desires. Each of us has been chosen for a specific role – Paul suffered untold miseries to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles and we are to act out His plan for our lives. Apostle Peter tried to answer the Lord twice about loving Him but gave up the third time saying “Lord You know everything” (John 21:17). He knows our answer even before the question is asked but still He wants to give us a choice always.
Supposing our Lord appears before us suddenly and asks us “What do you want?” each of us will have long lists of things that we desire – from a house to so many other things. But have we ever considered to ask Him in return “Lord what do you want from me?” He has the power and authority to enforce His will through His chosen people or instruments and Apostle John was witness to all that will happen on the day of judgement and how it will be dxecuted. We should surrender to His will to do His will in His power and authority.
He knows us for He has formed us and when we follow His plan for our lives we move in the right direction and succeed in our ventures. Like Apostle Peter it is better to humbly submit to His power and control and seek His hand to lead us on the right path. We need to move with “fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us both to will and to do, according to His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
Seek His way, His power, His guidance and His Spirit to lead us “To be what He wants us to be today and everyday”!!