Stacey is the sentimental one. Out of the four sisters in my family, she has more stuff that sparks joy for her than the rest of us do. Because, for Stacey, items are never valued by shelf space or price tags, but in the memories and meaning they possess.

So when she told us she had a handwritten recipe card from Grandma Lena, a grandmother who died when our mom was a teen, no one was surprised. But we were jealous.

We looked at Mom and said, “Why didn’t you give us a recipe card?”

Her response? “You never asked.”

Mom is right. We never asked. Nor did we even think to ask. And as I thought about that conversation, I wondered what else I had never asked for. Not from my mom, but from my Heavenly Father.

My friend’s text came through on a Wednesday morning. She said the pastor was coming, and so were a few others. They were gathering to pray.

“This is very last-minute and I completely understand if it doesn’t work,” she wrote. “But you are very welcome to come if it works with your schedule.”

Within the hour, we were circled in her living room. While I anticipated the pastor would open with Scripture and words of encouragement, I wasn’t prepared for his question. He said, “I’m going to ask all of you something that may seem a bit strange.” Anyone in the group who was a little anxious experienced a sudden spike in blood pressure.

After the nervous laughter subsided, he asked, “What do you want God to do?”

No wonder he thought we’d find his question odd. It seemed too simple. We were here to pray. Of course we knew what we wanted God to do for us. What I wasn’t expecting, as we answered his question, was what God did in us.

As we named the desires of our hearts, we peeled back all the layers of our feelings, fears, and frustrations. Verbalizing the specifics was holy ground as we postured our hearts to his heart.

The all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God of the universe cares about what we care about. He cares for us! He loves us and is for us. And though God knows our longings and desires better than we do, he wants us to ask.

Kids get that. When they want something, they ask. Before they can even speak full sentences, they ask. And keep asking.

When our oldest daughter Elizabeth was a college student and her weekend at home was drawing to a close, she went around her grandparents’ living room giving goodbye hugs to her sisters, grandparents, and aunts. When she got to her dad, she gave him a big hug and then held out her right hand, rubbed her fingers together, and opened her palm wide.

My dad laughed, remembering the days when he received that same sign language for cash from his own children. Then Elizabeth and her dad stepped into the adjoining room and Mike gave her what she asked for.

Elizabeth’s ask was specific, bold, and expectant. Are those the words you would use to describe your prayers? Do they define mine?

There is mystery in prayer. And, potentially, a thousand questions of how, and why, and does prayer really make a difference? But this is what we can know for sure:

Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you(Matthew 7:7). James wrote, “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2).

What do you want God to do?

May it never be said of you and me, “You never asked.”


Writer’s note: Verses are quoted from the New International Version (NIV).