The other night while pondering a Psalm, Sean and I were discussing the nature of the psalmists attitude. Here's the snippet that caught my attention:
1 A Prayer of David. Incline thy ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2 Preserve my life, for I am godly; save thy servant who trusts in thee. Thou art my God; 3 be gracious to me, O Lord, for to thee do I cry all the day.
The passage struck me at first as a little presumptuous. Who commands God to "answer me" or says "I am godly"...who does this guy think he is?...Surely humility and being unassuming of God's grace or mercy would be something the co-author of a chapter in the Bible would value.
As we dug deeper, Sean came up with a great analogy. A while back, when Joseph started asking for toys and other things as we walked through the store, we would say, "I'll write it down on your birthday list". As small children have no concept of money, we thought it would be a good way to help him learn patience and that we don't get everything we ask for right away. Joseph seems to have picked up on the concept because now he asks us to add things to his "birthday list".
Sean and Joseph were outside one day and Joseph saw an F18 fly overhead.
"Daddy, can I have that on my birthday list?"
Sean said his first reaction was, "No, sorry son, I don't have a spare $100 million laying around..."
But it reminded him of this passage because sometimes we ask God for big things; even outrageous things. Of course, as adults, we know that it is impractical to own an F-18 and silly to ask for it. But Joseph's innocent request showed that he was confident in his father's generosity, and that he could ask in confidence because of his security of Sean's love. Even though he didn't get what he asked for, he wasn't ashamed of asking.
I think as adults we forget this concept. We reason through too much or think we are asking too much of God. We stop petitioning God because we're afraid He'll say no, or because we think we're being selfish, or because we think it's just going to end in disappointment. Whatever the reason, we view God less and less like an innocent child views his loving father.
But He looks down on us in love, and if our requests are innocent and come out of our confidence in His love, He will not see us as foolish. Maybe we don't always ask for things we need or should have, but we ask in faith. And, just like a three year old's seemingly foolish request to his generous father, we can be confident that it pleases God when we are sure in His love. Not because we deserve it, but because He is Love and He desires to give Himself to us.
That is, in my opinion, a pretty good place to start.