Free to Receive, Free to Refuse
by Christian Thomas Golden
We have not because we ask not.
We have not. Have not what? Let’s consider love, power, peace, comfort, a sound mind, courage, and confidence.
We have not these things because we ask not. Ask not what? Is it really that simple? Do we really not have power simply because we have not asked for it? Do we really not have peace simply because we have not asked for it?
Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Ask and it will be given to you. Okay, I want courage. Why don’t I feel anything? Why am I still afraid to speak in front of people? Why am I still afraid of making mistakes? Why am I still afraid of failing? I asked! Let me receive!
What does it mean to ask? Let’s break this down. If we are investigating the principle of “ask and it will be given to you,” what are the elements of this process?
1. If you are asking for something, that should mean that you do not currently have what you are asking for.
2. If you are asking for something, there must be someone that has that something that you do not currently have.
3. If you are asking for something, that should mean that you want/need that thing.
4. If you are asking for that something that you want/need, you must be asking that someone who has that thing you are asking for.
5. For that thing to be given to you, you must be able to receive it.
6. For that thing to be given to you, you must be willing to receive it.
“Ask and it will be given to you”
In that particular scripture, there is no mention of any qualifier. That is, it is stated as an unconditional fact. When God says “Ask and it will be given to you,” He isn’t saying, “if I feel like it,” or “if you’re good enough,” or “if you stand on your head for five hours.” God said, “Ask and it will be given to you.” God is not a liar, is He?
Then why don’t I win the lottery? Why don’t I have my dream job? Why don’t I own a house? Why don’t I own my dream car? I asked. Now give it to me!
Wait, what’s up with #5 up there in that list? “For that thing to be given to me, I need to be able to receive it?” What do you mean, able? I’m standing right here! I’m asking! I want it! I might even need it! Just give it to me, already!
Well, what does it mean to be able to receive? At least, what do I mean when I say “able to receive?”
Let’s look at it tangibly. If I want something from someone, I need to approach them in some fashion (in person, over the phone, email, etc.) to let them know that I want something. I then need to identify what it is that I want. Let’s say I’m emailing my boss to ask for some days off. Let’s say he says, “okay, you can have those days off.”
Great! I received my days off! So…what am I trying to say? Oh, yes, right. Got it.
How did I receive those days off? I (1) identified my need, (2) identified who was able to supply me with my need, (3) identified a channel through which I could approach the need-supplier, (4) used said channel to ask the need-supplier for the need, (5) the need-supplier must be willing and able to approve my request, and (6) I must accept the approval.
If any one of those (6) elements were not present, I would not have received my need. If I don’t (1) identify the need, how could I possibly even ask for it, let alone receive it? If I don’t (2) identify who can supply me with the need, how can I ask for it? If I don’t (3) identify the channel through which I can approach the need-supplier, how can I ask for it? If I don’t (4) ask for the need via some channel of conversation, how can I expect to receive (I haven’t really asked, have I)? If I make it impossible for (5) the need supplier to be willing and able to approve my request, how can I expect to receive it? Finally, if I do not (6) accept the approval, I cannot at the same time receive!
Well, this is all common sense! Why even say any of this! You haven’t really proven anything! I’ve wasted my time reading this garbage!
Wait! Don’t go yet!
I believe that we often do not receive, because we unknowingly forget the following:
1. We do not identify the need. We think we do, but we really don’t. “Lord, I need patience.” The next day you punch your friend in the face for laughing at you. “Lord! I asked for patience!” Do you really need patience? How about forgiveness? How about you ask God to help you with your anger? If you asked for patience, God gave it to you. Use it. Just don’t forget that there might be a whole lot of other things you should also be asking for.
2. We do not correctly identify the supplier of the need. Sure, God said, “ask and it will be given to you,” but have we really identified the supplier of the need to be God? Are we really sure that He is, in fact, the one who is able and willing to supply us with what we are asking for?
3. Do we really identify the channel through which we can approach the need-supplier? How do we ask God? Do we verbally ask of Him? Do we think positive thoughts and vibes toward Him (I guess that means toward the sky or something)? Do you know how to ask God?
4. Do we then use that channel? Once we’ve established how to ask God, do we then do that?
5. Is He able and willing to give? Well, His word says “ask and it will be given to you.” So, yes. Period. That’s it. #5 is solid.
6. Do we truly accept the gift? If you asked for courage, you got it. Do you accept it? Well, how can you know if you’ve received something like courage? What is the proof of one’s courage? Courage in action! Are you using the courage God has given you? No? Well, that means you haven’t received it! That DOES NOT mean God has not given it to you.
There’s something tricky here. Let’s look back at that “God I’m asking to win the Lottery” thing. I said that God said “ask and it will be given to you.” I said that God does not lie. Therefore, I said, if God says “ask and it will be given to you,” He will give to you what you ask for. A million dollars. The lottery. The Presidency of the United States of America.
Who are you asking? Are you sure you are asking God?
First, how do you know you are asking God? Actually, how do you know you can ask God? In fact, how do you know God? How do you know how to approach Him? How do you know He is listening? Why would you even care if He was listening? Why do you recognize Him as a giver? Why do you recognize that you need what you don’t have which He has and is able and willing to give?
Chances are, in asking God to give you the wining lottery ticket, you just might be missing and/or distorting one of the required elements of asking and receiving. Either you’re really not sure whether God is willing and/or able to grant you the ticket, or you’re really not asking but wishing for the ticket. There IS a difference.
Praying is not wishing. Wishing has nothing to do with God. Rather, God has nothing to do with wishing. Wishing has nothing to do with faith. Wishing is not asking. Wishing is just stating “things would be better if…”
Asking is saying “God, I need X.” Implied within that statement is that God has X and is willing and able to give it. Do you really believe that?
Do you really believe that God has “X” and is willing and able to give it to you?
If I don’t really have faith in God, am I able to ask Him for anything?
If I’m not willing to use what he’s given me, have I really received it?
Please respond to this as I think I have not been as clear as I could be. Your questions/comments/issues will force me to unearth what I’m trying to get at.