"I'm sure Aslan would have, if you'd asked him," said Fledge.
"Wouldn't he know without being asked," said Polly.
"I've no doubt he would," said the Horse.... "But I've sort of an idea he likes to be asked."
-From The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis
My nephew's fifth birthday is this week. Also, three of my cousins are turning seven. This week. And that's first cousins, mind you. I also have a first cousin that's about to turn one next month, which means that he is more than thirty years younger than I am. Which is awesome. Also, next weekend, my grandfather is getting married, which is also awesome.
My financial state is always precarious, so I reasoned that I would not be able to make a trip to Kentucky next weekend for these multiple celebrations. But I really wanted to be there. I really felt like I should be there. And if something like this had happened a few months ago, I'm not sure I would have been prepared to handle it in the way that I'm handling it.
I started praying, asking God to make it possible for me to go to Kentucky next weekend. In the past, a few things would have prevented me from making such a request of the Lord. I would have reasoned that this was a selfish request. I would have doubted that God would be willing to grant me a selfish request. I would have concluded that it was pointless for me to even ask God for something selfish. I would have concluded that God already knew what I wanted, so if He wanted to give it to me, He would.
And while I still believe that when God blesses us, it's so that we can be a blessing to others, I don't know that my past attitudes were right. Selfish requests aren't always impure. I mean, I find myself praying, "Dear Lord, please let the Cardinals win the World Series." While I wish that my motives for such a prayer were, "I want the Cardinals to win so that Albert Pujols will have an even greater testimony of Your faithfulness so that he can continue to spread Your fame with renewed vigor," I really just kinda sorta want the Cards to win because I want the Cards to win. And maybe that kind of request isn't too pure.
But going home next weekend will mean a lot to me. I haven't seen my nephew or nieces, my mom and dad, my sister, brother, and brother-in-law, or my grandfather since May. I haven't seen most of my extended family since last Christmas. These are important celebrations that I want to experience, celebrate, remember. My family means a lot to me, and I don't want to wait until this Christmas to see them--when I will only hear about the celebrations I missed. I want to be there.
And with the work that God has been doing in my life over the past several months, I was able to say, "You know what, I have absolutely nothing to lose by asking for this." And I started praying, asking that God would enable me to go see my family this upcoming weekend. He knew I wanted to go. He knew I couldn't afford it on my own. He knew all of these things, but He wanted to be asked.
I am reading in Luke right now, and in Luke 11, the disciples ask Jesus how to pray. Jesus' immediate response is to give them the Lord's prayer. I guess in my mind, that's always where the cut off was. "Okay. Check. Got it. The Lord's prayer is how we should pray. "Father, Hallowed be Thy Name....'" That's not where Jesus really ends, though. After saying what we now know as "The Lord's Prayer," Jesus went into a parable about a man who went to his neighbor at midnight and asked for bread so that he could feed a visitor. Jesus concluded that the neighbor wouldn't give the man anything because of their friendship, but he would give him all he needed because of the man's persistence.
And then Jesus tells us to ask. "Ask, and it will be given. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened." I don't think Jesus was at all commanding us to treat God like Santa Claus. He wasn't saying, "When you pray, just bring God your 'Christmas list' and He'll get you a shiny new fire truck that lights up, makes noise, and squirts real water." Prayer isn't about asking for stuff as much as it's a means to align our own hearts with God's heart. But I think I'd forgotten that God really does want us to bring the desires of our heart to Him. That doesn't mean He'll always say yes, but if we don't ask, how can we ever expect to receive? It takes faith to ask, which is probably why God wants us to ask.
And after I started praying for God to provide a way home, a wonderful, generous family offered to pay for a rental car for my trip.
And then the day after I reserved the rental car, I had to take my own car into the shop (it's in no condition to make a trip to KY and back) to get my brakes fixed. This is going to sound weird, but God told me to get my brakes fixed. I was going to wait on it until after this trip, but apparently it was time to do it now. So I did it. And getting my brakes fixed (along w/ an oil change and new wiper blades) cost me about what I pay in rent. So I'm not sure how I'm going to pay my rent next month. And maybe going on a trip to KY doesn't seem like a really great idea all of the sudden, but I have already reserved the rental car. I've already made plans. I'm going...even if I'm not sure how I'm going to pay for everything.
God knows my situation. God knows everything that's going on around it. While I'm thoughtful and aware of the situation, I'm really not at all worried about it. I'm just asking Him to provide, and I am confident that He will. In the meantime, I'm having my faith stretched, which is an added benefit to everything.