Discover Prayer (Part I): We Must Ask!

We must remember to ask our Heavenly Father for the things that we need, want, and desire.

You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; (James 4:2)
And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 NET)
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1 ESV)
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 ESV)

There are several different Koine (common) Greek words that we translate as our English word “ask.”  Furthermore, the one used in this verse (James 4:2) is Strong’s number 154 aiteo {ahee-teh’-o} which Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible defines as “a demand of something due.” (3)(4)(5)

This is not to imply that we are trying to boss God around or be rude.  However, it is akin to being at the supper table with your family and asking them to pass the salt.  The salt is rightfully yours because you are part of the family; however, it will not benefit your food unless you politely demand (ask) it to be passed your way.

Furthermore, we ask our Heavenly Father for things that we need, want, or desire in Jesus’ name (2).

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that remains, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. This I command you—to love one another. (John 15:16–17 NET)
At that time you will ask in my name, and I do not say that I will ask the Father on your behalf. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. (John 16:26–27 NET
At that time you will ask me nothing. I tell you the solemn truth, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive it, so that your joy may be complete. (John 16:23–24 NET)

However, realize ending our prayer with the traditional “In Jesus’ name” is more than a formula, password, or closing to the letter. It is to realize that our right to obtain anything from our Father is based on the completed work of the cross of our Savior. It is an acknowledgment that we are not asking based on our own name or works but rather in our Lord Jesus’.

Remember, we are His bride (1) in the betrothal period before the wedding (1). In ancient Jewish custom means we already have His name, just like when a woman marries today, they traditionally change their last name.

For example, if your spouse went to the bank to withdraw money from your account in their maiden name, they would get nothing. However, if they used their married name, they could get everything.  It is the same way with our Heavenly Father, for we have been given the name of Jesus! Again, the name given to us when we were born physically will get us nothing from God.  However, the name was given to us after our spiritual birth (1) – Jesus – will get us everything!

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NET)
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, (Ephesians 3:14–15 NET)
The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never depart from it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God (the new Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven from my God), and my new name as well. (Revelation 3:12 NET)

That is, we are to ask of God based on Jesus’ finished work as if He were asking the Father through us. This means we are to come boldly and not sheepishly, as a son and not a slave, as one who has been forgiven and not full of self-condemnation, and as a joint heir and not a beggar.

Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help. (Hebrews 4:16 NET)
But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children —children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God. (John 1:12–13 NET)
He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, (1 Corinthians 1:30 NET)
God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NET)
And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ)—if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:17 NET)

Suppose you are at your Earthly father’s supper table; how would you ask something to be passed?  Would it be given to you?  Then how much more will our Heavenly Father give good things to those that ask!

If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11 NET)
The LORD says, “Because he is devoted to me, I will deliver him; I will protect him because he is loyal to me. When he calls out to me, I will answer him. I will be with him when he is in trouble; I will rescue him and bring him honor. (Psalm 91:14–15 NET)
‘Call on me in prayer and I will answer you. I will show you great and mysterious things which you still do not know about.’ (Jeremiah 33:3 NET)
For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the Lord’s face is against those who do evil. (1 Peter 3:12 NET)

Know our prayers do not take God by surprise; He knew of the need before it happened and supplied the solution by His unique Son’s death on the Cross of Calvary (1).

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:8 NET)

In other words, He has prepared a table for us in the presence of the enemy:

You prepare a feast before me in plain sight of my enemies. You refresh my head with oil; my cup is completely full. (Psalm 23:5 NET)

However, it will not do us any good unless we ask Him to pass the food!

Note the hidden word ASK twice in the verses below:

Ask and it will be given to you; Seek and you will find; Knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who Asks receives, and the one who Seeks finds, and to the one who Knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ASK him! (Matthew 7:7-11)




Get the message – ASK!

Furthermore, we must be specific with our requests to God. Again, if you were at the table and simply said, “pass the food” then nothing would come your way.  It is when we specifically ask for the corn, beans, potatoes, etc. that we receive.

As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed them. Two blind men were sitting by the road. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!” The crowd scolded them to get them to be quiet. But they shouted even more loudly, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” Jesus stopped, called them, and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. (Matthew 20:29–34 NET)

Notice in the previous verses that when the blind men asked for mercy they did not receive what they desired.  However, when they were specific they received.

Lastly, we can even ASK for the wisdom to know how to ASK!

But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5 NET)

Application Prayer:

Heavenly Father, without your wisdom, we do not know how to ask; therefore, we do not have.  Furthermore, the lost are watching your children see if You meet our needs better than the World meets their needs.  For the sake of Your glory, give us the wisdom to ask so that the world might know You are the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.  To the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen.  (Based on James 4:2. 2 Corinthians 3:2. Exodus 34:6. 1 Timothy 1:17).

Discover Prayer Series:

(Protection, Wholeness, Success)

Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. 
(3 John 1:2 NET)

(1) Select the link to open another article in a new tab with additional information.

(2) The following verses are not referring to having our needs, wants, or desires met:

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13–14 NET)

But rather the “works” spoken of in the preceding verse:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12 ESV)

That is, meeting the needs, wants, and desires of others are the works. That is, we go to God our Father for our needs, wants, and desires, but go to Jesus for the works of ministry (i.e., the needs, wants, and desires of others).

An example of the use of Jesus’ name in ministry:

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time for prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon.And a man lame from birth was being carried up, who was placed at the temple gate called “the Beautiful Gate” every day so he could beg for money from those going into the temple courts.When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple courts, he asked them for money.Peter looked directly at him (as did John) and said, “Look at us!” So the lame man paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, stand up and walk!” Then Peter took hold of him by the right hand and raised him up, and at once the man’s feet and ankles were made strong.He jumped up, stood and began walking around, and he entered the temple courts with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the man who used to sit and ask for donations at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with astonishment and amazement at what had happened to him. While the man was hanging on to Peter and John, all the people, completely astounded, ran together to them in the covered walkway called Solomon’s Portico.When Peter saw this, he declared to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this? Why do you stare at us as if we had made this man walk by our own power or piety? (Acts 3:1–12 NET) 

(3) Strong, J. (2009). In A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 9,63). Logos Bible Software.

154.  αἰτέω aitĕō, ahee-teh´-o; of uncert. der.; to ask (in gen.):—ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require. comp. 4441.

4441.  πυνθάνομαι punthanŏmai, poon-than´-om-ahee; mid. prol. from a prim. πύθω puthō (which occurs only as an alt. in certain tenses); to question, i.e. ascertain by inquiry (as a matter of information merely; and thus differing from 2065, which prop. means a request as a favor; and from 154, which is strictly a demand of something due; as well as from 2212, which implies a search for something hidden; and from 1189, which involves the idea of urgent need); by impl. to learn (by casual intelligence):—ask, demand, enquire, understand.

(4) Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). In Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 406). United Bible Societies.

33.163 αἰτέω; παραιτέομαιa: to ask for with urgency, even to the point of demanding—‘to ask for, to demand, to plead for.’

αἰτέω: αἴτησόν με ὃ ἐὰν θέλῃς, καὶ δώσω σοι ‘ask me anything you want and I will give it to you’ Mk 6:22; ᾐτήσατο τὸ σῶμα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ‘he asked for the body of Jesus’ Mt 27:58; παντὶ τῷ αἰτοῦντι ὑμᾶς λόγον περὶ τῆς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐλπίδος ‘to anyone who asks you for an account of your hope’ or ‘… to give a reason for your hope’ 1 Pe 3:15. See also footnote 33.

παραιτέομαιa: κατὰ δὲ ἑορτὴν ἀπέλυεν αὐτοῖς ἕνα δέσμιον ὃν παρῃτοῦντο ‘at every Passover Feast he would set free any prisoner the people asked for’ Mk 15:6.

(5) Stählin, G. (1964–). αἰτέω, αἴτημα, ἀπαιτέω, ἐξαιτέω, παραιτέομαι. In G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley, & G. Friedrich (Eds.), Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 1, pp. 191–193). Eerdmans.

αἰτέω (αἰτέομαι)

Constructions (act. and mid.): τι (Lk. 1:63), τινα (Mt. 5:42), τί τινα (Mt. 7:9), τι ἀπό τινος (only act., Mt. 20:20), τι παρά τινος (Ac. 3:2), with inf. (Eph. 3:13), acc. c. inf. (Lk. 23:23), with ἵνα (only mid., Col. 1:9). The Heb. equivalent in the OT is mostly שׁאל, the Aram. בעא (Θ Da. 2:49; 6:7, 12 f.), both with the same twofold sense of “to demand” and “to request.”

1. αἰτέω (αἰτέομαι) as “to demand.”

Jos. Ant., 1, 224. LXX (mostly mid.): Dt. 10:12; Ju. 8:24, 26 (B: act.). NT: Lk. 1:63: αἰτήσας πινακίδιον ἔγραψεν; Ac. 16:29: αἰτήσας δὲ φῶτα εἰσεπήδησεν.

In the NT concrete demands are often given a religious application. Thus payment is demanded in financial transactions (P. Oxy. 54, 15); in Lk. 12:48 this is transferred to the sphere of ethical obligations: ᾧ παρέθεντο πολύ, περισσότερον αἰτήσουσιν7 αὐτόν. Again, in public life accreditation is required (Jos. Ant., 19, 85); similarly in 1 C. 1:22 the Jews demand σημεῖα in proof of the Messiahship of Jesus. Again, as λόγον αἰτεῖν τινα means to exact an account of someone (P. Hamb., 6, 8 f.), so it is in 1 Pt. 3:15: ἕτοιμοι ἀεὶ πρὸς ἀπολογίαν παντὶ τῷ αἰτοῦντι ὑμᾶς λόγον περὶ τῆς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐλπίδος.

In Judaism, too, it was required that a man should be able to give an account of his religion; cf. S. Dt., 34 on 6:7: “If a man ask thee ought (from the Torah), thou shalt not give a stammering or uncertain answer.”

2. αἰτέω (αἰτέομαι) as “to request.”

a. For the transition from the former meaning to the latter, cf. Xen. An., II, 1, 10: θαυμάζω, πότερα ὡς κρατῶν βασιλεὺς αἰτεῖ τὰ ὅπλα ἢ ὡς διὰ φιλίαν δῶρα. In the NT there is vacillation between the two meanings in the par. passages Mt. 5:42 and Lk. 6:30: τῷ αἰτοῦντί σε δός. In the sense of “to request” the act. is found as early as Homer, and the mid. from Herodotus.

The NT knows this usage both in the secular and the religious sense. There is no striking distinction between the act. and the mid. The many distinctions sought by older grammarians and more recent exegetes14 are not for the most part supported by the sources. On the other hand, the mid. seems to be preferred in commercial15 or official relationships.

As regards the former, the LXX uses the term in connection with things which are requested as a dowry (Jos. 15:18, though cf. Ju. 1:14 act.), as an inheritance (Jos. 19:50 == 21:40 [LXX, 42b]), as a condition of alliance (2 S. 3:13), or as the gift of a host (which is a transaction in the orient, cf. 1 K. 10:13). In the NT cf. Mk. 6:24 f. with v. 22f.; the transaction began with the promise of Herod: αἴτησόν με ὃ ἐὰν θέλῃς, καὶ δώσω σοι. As regards official relationships, cf. in the LXX 3 Βασ‌. 2:16, 20, 22 of Adonijah and Solomon; 1 Εσδρ. 4:42, 46 (8:51 A: act.); 2 Εσδρ. 8:22 of Ezra and the emperor. In the NT cf. Mk. 15:6 (rec), 8 and par. (Ac. 3:14); Lk. 23:23 (Ac. 13:28) of the people and Pilate; Mk. 15:43 and par. of Joseph of Arimathea and Pilate (Jn. 19:38, ἐρωτάω); Ac. 9:2 of Paul and the high-priest; 12:20 of the representatives of the cities and Herod. Cf. also Mt. 20:22 and par. with v. 20 and par. where Jesus speaks to the mother of the sons of Zebedee as the future King.

b. In religious usage it is almost impossible to distinguish between the mid. and act.17 Such a distinction is often attempted on the basis of Jm. 4:2 f., the act. signifying prayer with the lips and the mid. prayer with the heart:18 οὐκ ἔχετε διὰ τὸ μὴ σἰτεῖσθαι ὑμᾶς· αἰτεῖτε καὶ οὐ λαμβάνετε, διότι κακῶς αἰτεῖσθε. The variation is certainly striking, but the distinction is not borne out by the rest of the NT (cf. esp. 1 Jn. 5:15; Jn. 16:24, 26; also Mt. 21:22/Jn. 11:22). Hence we have no option but to explain it in terms of the formal structure of the sentence, i.e., the linking of its components into a kind of chain.

The use of αἰτέομαι for petitionary prayer is naturally the most important theologically in the NT. But sometimes requests to men and to God are brought into juxtaposition, as in Mt. 7:9 ff.; Lk. 11:10 ff. The request of the human child brings out the unconditional nature (πᾶς) both of what we may ask and of its certain fulfilment by God.

Jesus uses αἰτέω only of the prayer of others, not of His own (cf. Jn. 16:26), which is always for Him an ἐρωτᾶν (Jn. 14:16 etc.) or δεῖσθαι (Lk. 22:32), though Martha thinks nothing of applying the term αἰτεῖν to Him too (Jn. 11:22). Perhaps in explanation we might suggest that the basic meaning of αἰτέω is to want something, in the first instance for oneself. When Jesus prays, however, there is no question of His wanting things for Himself, but only for others. Again, αἰτέω might easily suggest a far from humble demanding, whereas Jesus never demands (Schlatter). Again, αἰτέω seems to presuppose a lesser degree of intimacy than ἐρωτάω; hence αἰτέω is used of the requests of the disciples to God, but ἐρωτάω of the requests of the disciples to Jesus, and of those of Jesus to God.

In Mk. 10:35 αἰτέω is also used of a request of the disciples to Jesus, but codd D 1 rightly have ἐρωτάω here too; cf. also Jn. 14:13 f., where we have real prayer to Jesus in analogy to prayer to God.

Hal has been teaching the Bible for over three decades. Presently, He desires to honor Jesus Christ through this Internet teaching ministry, thereby glorifying the Heavenly Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He believes, second to cultivating his relationship with God that raising his family unto the Lord is the most significant task for him while on Earth. Furthermore, Hal believes that being a successful leader in the church or workplace is no substitute for failing to be a successful leader at home.

Doulos Hal's Topical Index

Leave a Reply