Is it OK to ask God to help us?

Humbly praying for God's help can't increase His love, but it can awake us to that love and to His constant care.

The book of Psalms in the Bible is a book of prayer. Many of the psalms declare God's goodness and power. They affirm His ability to guide and preserve man's life. Some expose evil's lack of authority. Others express gratitude for all that God is and does. Then there are those that ask God to do something: "Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I."

If we look at the context of such petitions, we find that other kinds of prayer commonly accompany them. For instance, the psalm just quoted continues, "For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings." These words aren't so much a petition for God's help as they are an affirmation of His care. In the midst of despair, the Psalmist clung to a recollection of God's mercy and strength. Gripped with fear, still he acknowledged God's governing presence.

What is the purpose, then, of petitioning God? In order to bring about healing, prayer, whatever form it takes, requires a change of thought. This may involve a gentling of character, a purifying of desire, perhaps a deeper recognition of God's nearness. But spiritual healing always demands something of us, and sometimes prayers of petition ready us for the needed transformation.

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August 5, 1991

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