... You do not have, because you do not ask. James 4:2b
Eighty-one year old Clarence Blackmon is an Army veteran. Blackmon also has cancer.
Recently, upon returning to his North Carolina apartment after a hospital stay, Blackmon found his cupboards were bare, as was his pantry, his refrigerator, and freezer. With his stomach making earthquaky sounds, he contacted local stores, but they refused to deliver until he had made a deposit, something he was physically unable to do.
In desperation, Blackmon called 911. Talking to dispatcher Marilyn Hinson, he said, "I can't get out of my chair. What I need is someone to get to the grocery store and bring me some food because I need to eat something."
Hinson might have given Blackmon a lecture on the proper use of 911. She might have told him that he should contact some local food banks. She might have encouraged Blackmon to hire a taxi, which could stop and pick up the groceries for 115-pound Blackmon.
Hinson did none of those things.
No, what Hinson thought was this: he's hungry and I've been hungry. Remembering her tough times, Hinson went out, bought and delivered the food herself. The story of Blackmon started to make the rounds. Soon more groceries began showing up. There was enough to fill his shelves and be shared with the local food banks. But there's more. A home nurse was scheduled to show up twice a week to make sure Blackmon is okay.
According to the doctor, the nurse won't be calling on Blackmon for too long. He has been given less than six months to live. To that he replies, "... the doctor doesn't know, and I don't know ... only God knows and I thank God I'm still here."
Now this is the point in the devotion where I'm supposed to give you something to think about. The problem is there are so many ways we could go. For example, we could talk about Jesus' words, "Even as you have done good to the least of these, my brethren, you have done good to Me" (see Matthew 25:31-40). Or we could spend some time discussing Paul's statement: "I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:12b-13).
Instead, I would like to point out Blackmon has groceries because he asked for them. In that spirit I call your attention to the text at the top of our devotion. James is quite blunt when he tells his fellow believers, "You don't have because you do not ask." We may sing, "Take it to the Lord in prayer," but all too often we forget to ask the Lord for specific things we need. True, in such matters we most certainly ought to pray, "Not my will, but Your will be done" (Luke 22:42b).
But we also need to remember that the Lord, who sent His Son to do all that was necessary to forgive and save us, is also waiting to hear our prayers, which praise, thank and, yes, make requests of Him.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, it is right and proper for us to come to You in prayer. You are our Creator, Benefactor, Redeemer and Guide. In large matters and small may we make our requests known to You. In the Savior's Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries