How to Pray

Devotional

Petition: How to Ask God


Today we will think about petitionary prayer; the simple, yet fundamental act of making our requests to God: give us today our daily bread.


Prayer means many things to many people, but at its simplest and most obvious it means asking God for help. This is how most non-churchgoers and all children understand the word, and they’re right. The word pray comes from the Middle English, "to ask earnestly" and the Latin, precari, which means "to entreat". Absolutely everyone prays in this way from time to time. 


God asks us to ask for at least three reasons. First, because the act of asking is relational in a way that mere wishing is not. Jesus is always more interested in friendship than in dispensing blessings to faceless souls.


The second reason that asking is necessary is that it is vulnerable. To make a request is to admit to some area of personal need. It extends trust towards the person asked. This may be a very minor act of faith: trusting a shopkeeper to supply a pound of potatoes, or it can be very costly: asking a woman to be your wife, or a doctor to cure your disease. In all its forms, asking is an expression of faith, a way of opening our hearts to believe, and our hands to receive from another person.


Third, asking is intentional. It involves the activation of our wills. We are not automatons—mindless bots pre-programmed and powerless to resist the Creator’s genetic coding. God respects us too much to ride roughshod over our freewill and loves us too much to force us to do his bidding. He comes where he is welcomed, and waits to answer until he is called.


Petition is an important part of any healthy prayer life. It also helps us see answers to prayer in everyday areas of our lives, such as asking for a parking space.   


Pete recalls God once immediately responding to a friend’s prayers to remove a swarm of mosquitoes so they could enjoy their evening on a yacht. Initially sceptical of petitioning God about such a minor problem, Pete had the beautiful discovery that when you pray about the small things in life, you get to live with greater gratitude.


What needs do you have for the day ahead? Take a moment to bring your requests to God in prayer. "Give us today our daily bread. Amen"