I’m trying to learn not to be afraid to petition God. It’s easy for me to pray for other people, global situations, or even things that I am certain are God’s will for my life, such as time management or to become better at loving others. But I hesitate to ask him for things that I need. Do I think I need too much? Perhaps my finances are tight because I’m not wise with my money or choose to live in an expensive part of the globe. Maybe I’m too busy because I find my value in what I do rather than who I am. Do I think I’m being ungrateful to ask him for something when he has already given me so much? Do I fear wearying him with my endless requests? I wish I could say any of those things were the reason, but I know the truth.
The truth is that the reason I am afraid to bring my petitions before God, is that I’m afraid he will say “no.” To my human ear, “no” sounds like rejection. And thus, if God says “no,” or doesn’t respond to my request, I wonder if God has rejected me. The problem is that this fear is based solely on who I am and not at all on who God is. God, the one who called me, who chose me, who pursued me, who believed I was worth dying for, who has always loved me, who has never left me – this is the God I am accusing of rejection?
Spending time with friends who are also parents has helped me reshape my understanding of God. I can see how much they love their children, even when they sometimes have to tell them no. But I also see them giving extravagantly, finding ways for their children to have things that they want, planning surprises simply because they know it will please their children. And while sometimes requests can’t be granted, more often they can and will be, because they want their children to be happy.
James reminds us that God is our Father, and “every good and perfect gift is from [him]” (James 1:17). Like human parents, God delights in giving good gifts. When I remember that, I become less afraid of asking, helped by the knowledge that he delights in giving. And so I am challenged to ask boldly, to face my fear of rejection, and to trust that he is truly concerned about my happiness. Will you fearlessly approach him with me?