Have you heard that we should seek God’s face and not His hand? This means we ought to want Him for who He is and not what He can do for us. It sounds pretty spiritual on the surface. If I find myself only talking to God about personal concerns and not praying for anyone else, this would be a good reminder. But, I think this can be taken to an extreme. I’ve been thinking about seeking God for who He is as opposed to what He does for us, and my conclusion is that it’s not an either/or situation.
What if David and the other Psalmists thought it wasn’t good to ask God for temporal needs to be met? I think we wouldn’t have very many Psalms. The Psalms are quite a mixture of praise for who God is, as well as the things He’s done. There are also many cries for His help, and sometimes those are pretty desperate cries, wanting immediate help.
Another thing I thought about is the Lord’s Prayer. Like the Psalms, this pryaer is also a mixture of praise for who God is, as well as asking for our needs to be met. Since this prayer is the answer Jesus gave to the question of how we should pray, we are actually being instructed to go to God for our needs. And repeatedly, too. “Give us this day our daily bread” is surely a daily prayer which sometimes will include needs such as physical healing, a job, wanting a mate or a baby, or problems with a relationship. To ask God for the things we need, or even just want, acknowledges that He is our source for everything we have.
Joni Earekson Tada has found the balance, I think. I read her book, A Place of Healing, and also read an interview with her in Table Talk magazine (October 2011 issue). She has learned to enjoy “the Lord being…the Lord.” She also realizes that it’s not our natural state to seek God and He uses painful and difficult circumstances to draw us close to Him. We shouldn’t hold back because we have a need that is overwhelming everything else at the moment. God puts these things in our lives for His purposes and we need to go to Him when we have a need.
When we think of who we are and who God is, this isn’t like two friends on equal footing. You know how it is when you realize someone is only hanging out with you because of what you can do for them? If we go to God only when we need something and totally neglect Him otherwise, I think we haven’t realized who we are and who He is. I think the idea is that a Christian ought to be at God’s disposal, praising Him for who He is, praying for His will to be done, being willing to do His will. And we need to realize that we are dependent creatures.
I see this as a ‘both’ situation. I need God for who He is, but I also need to ask for daily needs to be met, and usually, if not always, that’s even more than once a day.