Questions Of Life

“Questions aren’t curses, but are pathways to God’s answers… when we ponder and reason the things of God, we aren’t trying to outsmart him.  We’re becoming more like him.”
Jennifer Dukes Lee- The Happiness Dare

questions-of-life

I love questions…

I can’t help it.  I think too much sometimes.  I have a curious mind that always wants to understand more and I’m not afraid to wrestle with the difficult, unanswerable questions.

I also love when someone else poses a questions that makes me stop and think, or helps me to look at things in a different way.

Jesus was the master of this sort of question, and he asked a lot of them.  The four gospels record over 300 instances of him asking a question (some are duplicates as the same story is recorded more than once) and invariably his questions were thought-provoking and designed to cut to the heart of the matter.

Although his questions were in many cases addressed to specific people in specific situations, I believe that as we ponder these questions there is a lot we can learn.  I shared recently about a time when God met with me powerfully through reflecting on some of Jesus’ questions, and it is something I’d like to explore some more, so over the next couple of months I am going to do a series looking at some of these questions.

The question we are going to consider today is “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51 NLT)

Jesus asks this question to Bartimaeus, a blind beggar he encounters among a crowd which has gathered on the outskirts of Jericho.  On hearing that Jesus is approaching, Bartimaeus cries out “Son of David, have mercy on me,” and he persists, despite the crowd’s attempts to silence him.  Finally Jesus hears and summons him, and as Bartimaeus approaches, Jesus asks the question: “What do you want me to do for you?”

Bartimaeus responds that he wants to see; Jesus tells him his faith has made him well and instantly his sight is restored.

It’s an amazing story, but I can’t help wondering: why did Jesus ask the question?  (I told you I was curious!)

To be honest, on considering this question two images come to mind: the first, the Spice Girls and their call to “Tell me what you want, what you really, really want,” closely followed by an image of the genie from Aladdin appearing and stating “Your wish is my command.”  I’m not sure either of these images help us understand Jesus’ purpose.

Even in the context of the story it seems like a strange question to ask.  Surely it was obvious what Bartimaeus was hoping for from this encounter.  Why else would he be calling out to Jesus?

In the same way, if God is all-knowing, why should we bring our requests to him in prayer?  He already knows our situations and what we want him to do.

I don’t have a definitive answer, but here are a few thoughts:

James writes “You don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.”  (James 4:2 NLT) and later, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”  (James 5:16 NLT)

It seems that sometimes things happen when we pray for them that wouldn’t happen otherwise.   I have heard someone explain it saying that God has given us free will, and using our free will to pray prompts him to act.

I think the act of asking also displays faith.  Choosing to ask God for what we want expresses our belief that he has the power to change the situation and that he cares enough to do something about it.

And then it opens our eyes to what God is doing.  If we didn’t have to ask God, I think we would find it easy to take his acts for granted or to write them off as coincidence.  Asking and receiving stirs gratitude and thanksgiving and turns us to praise.

However, God is definitely not like a genie in a magic lamp, ready to grant our hearts’ desires.  Just before the encounter with Bartimaeus, Jesus asks a similar question to James and John.  They approach him, asking for a favour and he responds by asking, “What is your request?”  (Mark 10:36 NLT)  They ask that when he sits on his throne they should be allowed to sit on either side of him.

Jesus doesn’t grant this request- he says it’s not his decision to make- but it opens up a conversation, giving him the opportunity to help them understand what they’re really asking for, to appreciate that identifying with him means suffering and that the call to discipleship is not a call to status and position but to humility and service.

I think sometimes God wants us to articulate our requests because it opens up a conversation and allows him to teach us.  He won’t always grant our requests, but it may lead us into a deeper understanding of what it means to follow him.

We might not always understand why some of our requests are not granted but we can trust that he sees our need and that he knows what is best for us.

 “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 7:9-11 NLT)

Holly Barrett     purposefulfaith.com              cc-linkup-button

 

 

 

 

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35 thoughts on “Questions Of Life

  1. Interesting new series! I also ask a lot of questions and as a teacher for years, I found that my students learned best when I asked them questions to help them dig down into a new understanding.

    Your summary at the end points to this same thing. Jesus wants us to learn about Him in a deeper way so he questions us so we can come to that new understanding that we couldn’t discover on our own. I know this series will be great.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your thoughts, Lesley. I’m looking forward to this series. I love how Jesus so often questions. When I was younger, I couldn’t understand why He would do that when He already knows our needs or what we’re thinking. But now I realize He wants us to search our hearts and to voice our needs to Him. Love and hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jesus’ questions are great and they do cause us to search our hearts. Expressing our thoughts to him is so important in growing in relationship and drawing close to him. Love and hugs to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such an important reminder: “He won’t always grant our requests, but it may lead us into a deeper understanding of what it means to follow him.” I loved your curiosity and your Spice Girls connection! This series is gonna be great! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lesley,
    I love love love that Jesus, The All Knowing One, reaches out to connect with us in the form of a question. And asking questions is directly how I came to accept Christ and continuing to ask compels me to go deeper in my relationship with Him. Those who are trapped in legalism might say don’t question God. I believe He welcomes questions and uses it as an opportunity to teach us as you stated. Blessing to you and happy to be visiting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting! Questions are powerful as you say. I have had people tell me I shouldn’t question but I think a lot depends on your motivation. I think when you are genuinely seeking to know more it is a good thing and does draw us into deeper relationship with God.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow. I really needed to read this today. All too often I’m afraid to ask because I’m afraid I know the answer and I’m afraid that it won’t be what I want. I love the idea of asking being a conversation opener.

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  6. This is so true…such good thoughts here. I often think that we live way below our privileges, as Christians, all because we simply do not ask. I am not sure why I am hesitant to ask Him for certain things. Sometimes the things I want or need just seem like too much to ask, I suppose. But, we can’t ask too much of our God, and there is nothing too hard for Him. I find myself crying out, “Lord, help my unbelief” so often. Thank you for another edifying post, my friend. God bless you. 🙂

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    1. So true- nothing is impossible with God. I know for me sometimes the reason I don’t ask is to avoid the disappointment if God says no. That’s probably a whole other post though! Blessings to you!

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  7. Hi Lesley,
    That story about Jesus asking the blind man what he wants him to do is one of my favorites because on further reflection, it’s quite profound! What if the man had answered any other way, such as he wanted money or help in some way, other than healing? Digging deep into these familiar stories often opens up new ways of discovering Jesus and I just love that! Thanks for sharing all these good truths here today! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Lesley! It does seem sometimes that we shouldn’t ask questions, we should just believe. But as you say here, questions lead to a deeper understanding, and isn’t that what friends strive for?
    The Scripture you quoted is one of my favorites. Like you, I have wondered why Jesus would ask. He knows what the man needs. But I’m reminded of asking my children what they wanted for their birthdays. I knew already, but I wanted to hear it straight from them. It creates an intimate moment. Thinking of that helped me to understand this question for Jesse more, and to realize that he’s always looking for intimacy.
    God’s blessings,
    Ceil===

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The parent-child relationship is a good way to understand Jesus’ questions. So often he’s not asking because he doesn’t know the answer but to build the relationship and, as you say, create greater intimacy.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oooh, I curious girl after my own heart. So much to uncover and seek out, isn’t there? I kinda think God likes us to be curious, too. He tells us that if we lack wisdom, to ask Him. He wants to share with us and grow us in our faith, so we can take that knowledge and further build His kingdom. Following Him is always an enlightening journey, isn’t it? 🙂 Thank you Lesley, and thank you for sharing your words with #ChasingCommunity. ((hug))

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  10. Way to work the Spice Girls into a blog post about prayer, Lesley! I love your thoughts on this … on the surface, it seems obvious what the blind man would want Jesus to do, and yet He still gave the man the chance to ask for it. I don’t think Jesus ever did anything without intention!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lois- I’m glad you liked the Spice Girls reference! 🙂 Yes, Jesus’ questions often seem simple at first but thete’s a lot more to them when you look deeper.

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  11. These are all great. I tend to lean toward the ones where you said we might be more likely to consider it a coincidence and also the one about God wanting to engage us in a conversation with Him.
    I also think that, while He created us for communion with Him, it is not HE who needs to hear us ask before He will do it. I think He knows that WE are the ones who need to hear ourselves ask. Putting our desire into words is huge in solidifying it in our own minds, which helps us hope and remember and have faith.
    Another thought, based on people I have known who are perfectly capable of speaking and asking for things but who point and motion and expect someone to jump and serve them, is that it seems terribly disrespectful and even rude and egotistical. Of course, we know that God deserves the highest honor of all; He is King and Lord of all. We are His servants by choice, not the other way around, even though Jesus humbled Himself to the place of a servant while He was on this earth. Now He is high and exalted with a name above every name.
    I think that, since the mouth speaks what is in the heart, speaking our request to God brings to the surface what is inside and helps us recognize how our faith level is and whether there is anything pleasing or displeasing in our attitudes toward God and our neighbor that we might not have recognized in ourselves before.

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    1. Ruth, I’m sorry I seem to have missed replying to your comment until now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and adding to the discussion here.
      My word for the year is Voice so I especially like your reflections about the mouth speaking what is in the heart and the power there is in giving voice to our requests. Blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

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