In the Bible, we find several verses that encourage us to make our needs known to God. But prayer being a dialogue, we must also give Him the chance to speak to us and to respond to us in His way!
When Jesus taught us how to pray, He told us to include a time of praise, repentance, reverence, etc. But He also told us to ask God for our daily bread, that is, to let Him know our needs. It is not because God does not know what we are going through, but because by taking the time to confide our problems to Him, we include Him in the resolution process. By putting our needs in His hands, we position ourselves to listen to God’s directions for the solution. Now, did you notice that Jesus taught us to say to God: “Give us our daily bread”, and not: “Give me a whole wheat bread, about 30 cm long and 15 cm high, at a temperature slightly above 20 degrees, from the bakery XYZ. And make sure my bread is given to me by the golden-haired baker. ” The Bible encourages us to make our problems known to God, but not our solutions! The one who created heaven and earth does not need ideas from us to meet our needs.
It is good to identify our needs precisely, and for that, a good discussion with God can help us to shed light on our real need. “I’m hungry”, says a six-year-old boy. “Do you want carrots?” asks his mother. “No, a cake,” he says. “So you’re not hungry, you just want cake”, concludes the mother. When faced with a difficult bill to pay, we might ask God: “Give me the money”. However, our real need is not to have money, but to pay the bill. So if we ask God for help paying this bill, He may give us money, or a different job, or He will make us review our budget, or the company may call us to cancel this bill; God’s possibilities for provision are limitless. Too often we tell God what to do to help us, instead of trusting Him on how to meet our needs.
Why is this distinction important? Because we can miss out on God’s solution if we are stubborn in a specific solution. Take the case of the Israelites in the book of Exodus. They were slaves in Egypt and they suffered. They complained to God, asked God to save them and He heard their cries. God’s solution: take them out of Egypt and bring them to the promised land. The Israelites never asked God to take them out of Egypt. They asked to be released from their suffering. They have lived in this country for 400 years. It’s about 16 generations! When your family has lived in a country for 16 generations, you do not think about leaving it. Maybe they thought that by crying out to God, He would give them another Pharaoh that was friendly to the Jews, like the one that was there in Joseph’s day. Maybe they thought God would give them a new leader who would make them the new masters of the country. But leaving was not in their plans. This is why, when faced with the first challenges, they immediately regretted leaving. “Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:11-12 NKJV). The Israelites said to Moses: “Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt…” So, while the plagues multiplied on the Egyptians, the Israelites had already told Moses that they preferred to serve the Egyptians than to leave. They wanted to be saved from their suffering, but in their way!
Some single women beg God to give them a husband because they believe that a husband is the only answer to their needs. The same principle also applies to men asking for a wife. However, if they took the time to identify their real needs, and left it to God to meet them, they would be much more fulfilled. For example, if the need is to have an additional income to pay for your home: God could offer you a roommate, a new more lucrative job, or even make you inherit from an old aunt that you didn’t know you had! If the need is to have someone welcoming you when you get home: a small dog could fill the need! If the need is to have someone to talk to, God can move friends or even take advantage of this time of silence to speak to you! “I want children, that’s why I need a husband!” We cannot have children on our own, indeed, but here again, we have to identify the real need. Why do you want children? To nurture, to educate, to ensure your retirement? God has a thousand ways to meet these needs without you becoming pregnant. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8 NKJV).
There is nothing wrong with asking God for a life partner! But remember, a husband or wife is not there to meet your needs, but for you to take care of them. So if you have needs, raise them to God and then listen to Him! He may find an unexpected way to respond. Finally, remember that if you do not know what you need, you can also just cry out before Him, and the Holy Spirit will intercede for you (Romans 8:26-27).