It's Not Only OK to Ask. It's Actually Good for You!

You always have permission to ask for help. It is OK to ask....

  • for practical help from a neighbor or a policeman

  • for personal or medical help from a doctor, psychologist, counselor, or pastor

  • for financial or practical help from family services or other social programs

  • for help from you spouse, your children, or your parents

  • for help from God

When you or a loved one is struggling with a mental illness, there will probably be a time when to ask for help is absolutely imperative! One time when my husband was slipping into a psychotic episode, we were at church. Some of the people there were telling me just to take him home and pray about it, but I knew we needed real medical help. And I knew I wouldn't be able to get him to the emergency room of the hospital alone. I was outside alone in the parking lot in the dark, and I simply began to loudly cry out "Would somebody help me? Please, somebody? I need help!"*

A kind couple who were familiar with mental illness heard me and helped us get him to the hospital. I will always be grateful for them!

Asking for help is very hard for me. For one thing, I'm not very decisive, so making the decision to ask is hard. And I don't want to be a bother to anyone. But asking and receiving are part of life as a Christian.

Have you ever noticed the neat little Bible acronym tied up in the word ASK? Ask. Seek. Knock.

Jesus said it in Matthew 7:7. Here is the passage in context (KJV), verses 7-12.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth;

and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children,

how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,

do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

(Verse 12, which is the Golden Rule, may not seem pertinent to the discussion, but I think it really is, and will explain in a minute.)  Bible scholars say this verb could be translated "ask and keep on asking." In the Amplified, verse 7 says,

Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find;

keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.

Why would Jesus tell us to ask for things we need? In this culture, we prize the rugged individualist, the avid do-it-yourselfer, the one who pulls herself up by her own bootstraps. But God apparently designed things in such a way that He intended for us to ask for things. It's good for the soul.

So why might asking be part of God's best plan for us?

1) It requires humility to ask God or anyone else for the things we need. It forces us to think of ourselves as needing God and others, which helps to break down our stubborn pride.

"Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD...." (Prov. 16:5a)

2) Asking requires us to have faith, because it requires making a decision and risking rejection. For some timid, passive people, this is huge!

But without faith it is impossible to please him:

for he that cometh to God must believe that he is,

and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

(Heb. 11:6)

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God,

that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.

For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

(James 1:5-6)

3) Asking increases our inter-connectedness with other people. It gives others a chance to be God-like in giving.

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

(Galatians 6:2)

4) When we receive what we ask for, our gratitude toward God increases, which brings us joy.

For what thanks can we render to God again for you,

for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;

(1 Thessalonians 3:9)

5) Asking ultimately increases the overall amount of praise lifted to God! He is glorified and honored!

When a Christian gives in response to the needs of their brother or sister, it...

"...not only supplieth the want of the saints,

but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God...they glorify God..."

(from 2 Cor. 9:12-13)

What is Our Part?

I think the real key to asking and receiving is to be giving something, whether prayer, time, money, help, or whatever, into the life of another. This is where the Golden Rule comes into play. By offering our own helping hand to another, we get into the "flow" of giving and receiving.

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down,

and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.

For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

(Luke 6:38)

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly;

and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give;

not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you;

that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor:

his righteousness remaineth for ever.

Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food,

and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

(2 Corinthians 9:6-11)

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption;

but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men,

especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

(Galatians 6:7-10)

The Right Attitude in Asking

Everything in the Kingdom of God requires a right attitude, a pure heart, and asking for help is no different. When we ask for help, we need to be thankful and respectful, discarding any sense of entitlement, jealousy, or consideration of whether we "deserve" it or not. If you are hurting, you deserve help as much as anyone else. But forgive anyone who has hurt you, and even pray for your enemies. Never, ever rejoice, even silently in your heart, when something bad happens to someone else.

Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:

Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him...

(Proverbs 24:17-18a)

Also, we need to realize that if we receive "no" for an answer, we should not take it personally. Trust God. An answer of "no" simply means He has another plan. Remember, "ask" means "keep on asking."

Here are some other scriptures that relate to asking:

James 4:2b-3 "ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." (Do you need it? Will it do good for someone? Or do you want to use the desired thing simply for your own selfish pleasure?)

Romans 12:13-15 "Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."  (Don't compare yourself or your situation with those who seem more blessed. Be happy for those who are doing well. Share when you can.)

Psalm 131:1-2 "Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child." (This is a good attitude to have when you don't understand what is going on or why a prayer has not been answered yet.)

The Flip Side....

In the Christian walk, along with every Bible truth, there is usually another balancing truth to consider.

While it is always OK to ask, this is not intended to make us lazy, inactive, and unduly dependent on others. For one thing, God expects us to work. When we're unemployed, we really should look for something useful we can do, even if it's only doing chores around the house. If we can't work because of a disability, then we can at least put some effort into praying for others or being a good listener!

A good scripture about work is 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. (By the way, this is a good scripture to use in prayer when asking God for a job or to bless your business efforts.)

And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business,

and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;

That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

Proverbs has some good statements about the importance of meaningful work. Here's a favorite of mine:

In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.

(Proverbs 14:23)

I like that scripture because it says there is a profit to all work. I tend to get discouraged when my work doesn't seem to be going anywhere, like when I have to take a garment apart because I've sewn it together wrong, but this verse implies there's even some profit to work that feels like you're spinning your wheels!

*It is because of moments like the one in the parking lot that I began this website. It isn't that God won't answer a sincere prayer for healing. I believe in divine healing with all my heart! But I also know that there is no one pat answer, no quick fix, in mental illness. Also, sometimes people at church, while well-meaning, are not real sympathetic or understanding about a Christian struggling with mental health issues.

Copyright:   Barbara Wood, March 7, 2011

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