Why Can't I Have That?

It has become a predictable pattern in our house. My two year old comes into the kitchen and asks for a snack. “Sure,” I say. “How about some Goldfish?” He responds with a nod of his head and an enthusiastic run to his chair, ready to receive what I give him.

A few minutes later, my six year old comes into the room. “Aww, M-o-m-m-y, why can’t I have Goldfish?” I respond with, what I think to be an obvious answer, “Well, did you ask for Goldfish?” “No.” “Why don’t you try asking?” “Mommy, can I please have some Goldfish, too?” “Sure.”

I’m sure this scene is replicated in kitchens all over the country. Why don’t kids just ask for what they want? And, why do they start to whine under the assumption that their parents won’t give it to them?

I am exasperated. But, I am also convicted. Because I see the same scene playing out in my prayer life.

I assume that God won’t give me what I really want. So I don’t ask. And then I whine that I don’t have it.

I think of the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus says,

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

“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 7:7-10 (NLT)

Now, let me be clear. I do not believe that God gives us everything we ask for in prayer. He loves us, just as I love my kids. As a parent, doing what is best for my kids sometimes means saying no. Or not yet. Yes is not the only answer given in love.

But, sometimes, we assume the answer is no, and never make the request. We don’t give God the opportunity to say yes.

My prayers need a boldness boost.

There is another barrier besides the assumed no that has kept me from boldness: my attempt at humility. I realize that God is God, and I am not. And so I surround my desires with lots of “if it’s Your will…” statements and “have Your way” requests.

That is not necessarily bad attitude.

But I wonder sometimes if I have fooled myself. If what I have let myself believe is humility is actually a lack of trust.

When I pray without boldness, I am safe. If all I pray is for God’s will to be done, then whatever happens is an answer to that prayer. I do not risk the wrestling that happens when prayers are not answered the way I wish them to be.

When I pray with boldness, I put it all out there. I risk hearing no.  But I trust. I trust that my desires, my true from-the-gut hopes, are better off in the hands of the God who loves me than in my own feeble grip.

And isn’t the risk of hearing no worth it if it also means I risk hearing yes?

I wonder if in my prayers, I am like my son, who assumes too quickly that he can’t have a snack because he never asked me if he could.

I’m going to start praying a little differently.

Do you have trouble praying with boldness? What holds you back?