Children ask the best questions. One that is famous in our family was asked by my then 3-year old daughter:
“Daddy, why do we have two hands?”
The best answer my husband could come up with was:
“Well, I suppose it’s better than one but not quite as good as three…”
One of the joys of being around young children is their natural curiosity about the world around them and the wonderful questions they come up with. Their assumption of course is that adults will have all the answers. Part of the journey for any parent is the realisation that we can’t answer all those questions, but it’s lots of fun trying to.
Questions are good. And for those of us who are parents, on our best days we never get (too) tired of our children’s questions. But what about asking questions of God? Many of us get to a place in our faith journey where we feel we can no longer ask God questions: we might fear the answer, or feel the question is too hard. Perhaps we doubt our ability to hear God’s response, or fear that He will remain silent.
It’s so important that we don’t lose that child-like freedom to ask questions of our heavenly Father. In fact a key part of our journey in learning to hear God’s voice better is asking Him questions – and listening for the answer.
It’s good to remind ourselves of God’s incredible wisdom; that the One we worship has the answer to every question we could ever ask:
All this comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.
Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! Romans 11:33
Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:3
These verses encourage me that it’s always worth pausing to ask God questions about every aspect of my life and the world around me. I want to learn how to lean into His wisdom and counsel, and trust His perspective. Rather than rushing into decisions and assumptions based on my limited human understanding, I need to seek His counsel so much more. He has given each of us the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor who teaches us all things (John 14:26), so why are we sometimes so reluctant to ask Him when we need help?
In the Bible David was someone who knew the wisdom of asking God questions; in fact one of the things that set him apart from Saul was his willingness to ‘inquire of the Lord’ on a regular basis, as we see from these two verses:
Once again David inquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered him. 1 Samuel 23:4
Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse. 1 Chronicles 10:13-14
Here are some simple steps we can take towards seeking the wisdom of God and asking Him questions in a way that will deepen our walk with Him:
- Deal with the fear
It’s important to recognize that for some of us there is fear associated with asking God questions, so the first step is to acknowledge these fears: perhaps it’s the fear of not getting an answer, or the fear of getting an answer we don’t like. Whatever the fear is, we can bring it to God and have faith that His love and grace is sufficient to deal with it.
- Come like a child
He called a little child to Him, and placed the child among them. And He said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-4
We are in the best place to ask questions of God, and hear His answers, when our posture is that of little children and we approach God as our loving heavenly Father. Sometimes that will mean putting aside cynicism and doubt and anger; it always means choosing a humble heart and choosing to trust Him. I’m sure that the little children who came to Jesus had great fun asking Him all sorts of wonderful questions.
- Journal your questions… and God’s answers
A perfectly valid response to this subject is, “It’s all very well asking God questions, how do I know I can hear the answers?”
Journaling is one of the best ways to listen to God’s answers: this is where we write down our conversations with God. I love to sit in a quiet place with my journal, and after a time of simple prayer and worship, start to write down my conversation with the Father. Sometimes the answers come straight away; sometimes they emerge over time as I take note of the different things He draws my attention to in scripture and as I go about my daily life.
As well as journaling there is also the habit of asking questions of the Holy Spirit in the moment, throughout the day, and at these times the answers usually come in the form of simple words or a sense of ‘just knowing’. I find that, after years of practising this form dialogue with the Spirit, I can ask Him about a particular course of action and His answer will be a deep sense of peace if I’m on the right track.
- Ask the right questions!
Of course there are no right or wrong questions to ask God: He can cope with anything we ask Him. But I’ve found that there are some great questions that deepen my relationship with God and help me align myself with His purposes, so it’s these that I tend to use.
I like to focus on the Who, How and What questions. For example, these ones are always a good way to start the day:
- Who would You like me to encourage today?
- What do You want me to do for You today, Holy Spirit?
- Is there anyone I’m supposed to meet today?
- How can I show Your love to people today, Father?
I’ve learnt over the years that, when faced with the pain and brokenness of the world around me, God doesn’t want me to stay fixated on the problem in front of me, but rather seek Him for the word of life that will open the door to His light and love. One of the marks of a healthy prophetic culture is that rather than asking, “Why is this bad thing happening?” we instead ask, “What’s Your word that will transform this situation?” That’s not to invalidate the heart-felt Why questions, but to recognise that our role is to be Speakers of Life into every situation God puts us in.
I’ll finish with a suggestion for you: a good question to ask at this time of year is, “What’s Your word for me for 2017?” Sit down with your journal, ask God that question and listen for His answer.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5