Beloved: Where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts.
You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.
There’s no such thing as a dumb question.
Or so they say.
The writer of James certainly thinks a person can “ask wrongly”. And I have to agree with him — sometimes. Sometimes people, including myself, ask some really dumb questions. I was a shy child. I was never one to ask questions, often because I was too scared that I would be the one to ask the dumb question. I would try and find the answers myself — read books, listen quietly but intently as conversations happened around me, observe interactions. I would look for answers before I would ask questions. Thankfully, experience and wisdom have taught me to ask more questions, as they are often the easiest way to bring clarity where there is confusion.
What I’ve also learned is that it’s important to understand not only what is literally being asked but also why the question is being asked. We’ve all experienced the small child who is constantly asking, “Why?” Initially, it’s kind of cute. By the tenth “why” question, though, you may be quite annoyed and decide to point the child in the direction of their parent (if that doesn’t happen to be you). But how else is the child supposed to learn? There are lots of things they don’t know. I truly believe that in the majority of cases, children ask questions in order to know something. Their intent with the question is genuinely to learn — even if it happens to be learning how to annoy their parent.
I ask God lots of questions in order to gain clarity. Often it’s the same questions over and over:
What do you want me to do with my life? Where are you God? How am I supposed to work under these circumstances? Is this really where you want me? Why me, God?
God doesn’t mind me asking the questions, but I do think He wants me to consider why I’m asking. Am I asking so God will confirm the answers I’ve determined to be the right ones? Or is it because I truly want to learn what God has planned for me; wants for me; dreams for me? My questions should come from the same sincerity of the child that asks their parent the million “why” questions. I need to come with the genuine desire to know God and to know His plans for me to share His truth, beauty, and love with others. I am God’s child. He will always answer my questions. He’s a good parent like that. I have to remember that my asking, aka my prayers, are not to change God’s mind, but to change my own. God wants me to ask intentional questions, not rapid fire questions simply to get the answers I want. I need to ask not with my agenda in mind but with God’s. God has answers to all my questions — even the dumb ones. I have to be willing to hear those answers and let them change me.