You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. (Psalm 145:16)
When I visited Taiwan with my husband a few years ago, I had the joy of participating in their famous lantern festival. The tradition is that on Chinese New Year, they will write their wishes on these human-sized lanterns and release them into the sky, hoping some divine being might catch them and make them come true.
I saw this photograph the other day, and started thinking about how much the Christian’s prayer life can sometimes look like this. We casually release our desires into the sky, hoping desperately that someone will see them and make them come true. They look pretty, but we never really believe they will return to us. Therefore, after wishing desperately, we try to figure out a way to make our dreams come true for ourselves.
I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.
What? Did I read that right? Anything? Whatever? No seriously… like, anything, anything? This is one of those verses in the bible that makes my head explode. Not only because it seems to be a blank check from God, but also because my experience starts to rise up in protest: “But what about this thing that haven’t received? Or what about that person that didn’t get their answer to prayer?”
I’m a big believer in letting God’s promises shape our experiences not letting our experiences shape how we read His word, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to understand how our participation is required to see that promise manifested in our lives. Here are a few tips:
One- Stop wishing and ask
When you’re feeling stuck, sulky or frustrated with where you’re at in life, ask yourself this question. Have you really asked God for what you wanted? You may have wished it, thought about it, planned out the next 10 years in your head, or stayed up all night scheming about it. But have you actually sat down and said, “God this is my heart’s desire”?
It’s insane how much I catch myself wishing and dreaming before I actually share it with God directly. Yes he knows all our thoughts, but he wants a relationship with us! He wants to be our Dad, our intimate friend, he wants to have conversation with us where we actually tell him what you want. And like a Dad who can’t wait to see his kid open the present he knew they wanted for Christmas, God wants the privilege of watching the gift he gave you unfold and the joy on your face at receiving it.
But asking requires being vulnerable with God and receiving his feedback as well. Sometimes when I’ve taken step towards asking for something, I realize that what I wanted isn’t really the desire of my heart, it’s a quick fix or an easy solution. Peace rushes into my heart as He assures me that he has something better and more lasting to satisfy that desire
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7) To abide means to stay, to rest, to be. When we’re plugged into our identity in Christ, he is our life source. He may prune us (see the rest of John 15) with his words, directing the vine where it needs to go but it’s all so that we may bear more fruit. From that place, we can be confident that there is no way our hearts are not aligned with his and we can boldly come before the throne and ask whatever we wish! Moreover, he promises to do it for us!
Faith is the key that unlocks the vault that God already has full and waiting for you. God wants to satisfy your every desire (Psalm 103) and do wondrous things through you, but in order to receive those free gifts requires the key of faith: faith that His promises are fully true, faith that His intentions and plans for you are good, and faith that His love and affection for you is unshakable and unwavering. To receive anything from God requires faith in the ability of the sacrifice of Christ to take away all your sins, because it’s that act that shows us our identity as a royal sons and daughters. We are coheirs with Christ! Instead of the death we deserved we have inherited all that Christ deserved! We are not being punished for our sins but rather God who gave you his only son will not withhold anything else from you! (See Romans 8)
Four- Hold On To Hope in the Waiting
Just because He’s promised to give us whatever we ask when we believe and abide, doesn’t mean they will always arrive the second we expect. Waiting is always challenging, but it’s also a time to strengthen your faith like a muscle, which will only enable you receive more of all that God has for you!
If God is having you wait it isn’t to be cruel or to punish you or teach you a lesson, it’s to get you something better! But when we feel like we’ve waited long enough, we often feel compelled to push, manipulate or coerce our situation towards that promise ourselves. If and when we achieve it that way, it usually ends up being a counterfeit copy of the amazing gift God had for us. Think of Ishamel and Isaac. God promised Abraham a son in his old age, but Abraham got tired of waiting, and decided to find his own means to have one through a servant girl. When his wife bore him one later it was clear that God had something better for him, but he slowed down the promise and made a mess with his impatience. If you’re feeling compelled to rush things a long, ask yourself, “In a year, if I look back and see I got second best because I couldn’t wait an extra month for first best, would I have done it?” Of course you would have waited if you knew God’s promise was on the way! Believe it, because He has promised that your desires will be satisfied. His answer IS on its way.
It seems that everyone I talk to in the body of Christ these past few months feels like they are in a season of waiting. I have my theories about why that is (I think God is strengthening us collectively in our character and faith for the crazy revival that’s coming), but one thing my friend Mara said to me over coffee this past week really struck me. She said,”You know you’re right where you’re supposed to be when you are choosing to wait on something, because it’s purely supernatural. Waiting is something the world cannot and will not do.” In a world, where we can instantly download anything our heart desires, or order it from and have it arrive in less than 24 hours, waiting for something by choice requires a supernatural grace.
When you’re waiting, I recommend writing down your promise, prophetic word, dream or desire and reviewing it daily to keep your hope fixed on what God is promised and to keep yourself from being distracted by what isn’t happening yet. The Lord recommends this to Habakkuk in Habakkuk 2:3:
“Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by. For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day.” (Amplified Bible)