Episode 3: Ask Better Questions of God
In this Episode Jimmy and Patty sit down to talk about how to ask better questions of God. If we have a shallow relationship with God, we will lead shallow lives. Unfortunately many Christians have yet to learn this fundamental truth.
The good news is that regardless of your life circumstances that you are in right now, you can learn how to deepen your friendship with God today.
Main Points -
- Don’t be afraid to argue with God: be real with your feelings with God. We tend to treat God either as type of Santa Clause, where we are asking God for things. Or we feel like he needs to be praised all the time. Our prayers do not typically sound like conversations. They often sound strange and formal. Imagine talking to someone the way you talk to God. If it sounds funny or awkward you may have a prayer problem. Getting to a point with God where you can express your feelings of frustrations, pain, and disappointments is a great goal. Also, just being able to have regular conversations with God.
Check out these psalms for examples of an author who is not afraid to get real with God:
- Psalm 88: abandoned by God and wondering why he is not keeping his promise to be with the author. The ending of the Psalm (v18) leaves you in distress even claiming that their friends are darkness.
- Psalm 89: basically calls God a liar for not keeping his promises to Israel.
- Psalm 73: questions the point in even believing about God.
Also whoever wrote Ecclesiastes (Qohelet - Teacher) or Job have some serious questions for God. Things have not worked out for those authors the way you would expect from followers of God. Surely God will bless those who walk in his ways. But reality is seldom that simple, and truth often needs to be argued out.
- Wrestle with God: this brings us to wrestling with God. It is not easy to follow God. And anyone who tells you otherwise is either extremely naive or a fool. Those are not the people who have a deep friendship with God. To do that you need to wrestle with God. That means arguing with him and reasoning with him over long periods of time. Really it means over the course of an entire lifetime.
Chutzpa is a yiddish word (Hebrew/German) that means shameless audacity and impudence. While in the original Yiddish is has not positive connotation, in biblical studies this is something that the patriarchs seem to have in their relationships with God. Some have called this a holy chutzpah.
This is something that the patriarchs (and matriarchs) were known for. Some scholars have even suggested that this was a key factor in why God choose this family out of all the families of the Earth to be his people.
- Reasoned with God to try and save Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction (Genesis 18:16-33)
- Abraham pleads with God for Ismael to be blessed (Genesis 17:18)
- Issac of all the patriarchs has been seen as the most passive. Life seems to happen to Issac, instead of Issac acting.
- While Rebecca by contrast is alway seen as active and always portrayed in constant movement. She goes against the wishes of her husband (Issac) and tricks him into giving his blessing to Jacob instead of Esau. (Genesis 27)
- Jacob, whose name means deliver, had his named changed by God to Israel. Israel literally means he struggles with God (Genesis 32)
- Argues with God about not wanting to go back to Egypt to lead out the people (Exodus 4)
- Moses is a great example and has many such encounters where it appears that Moses is using logic with God, persuading God, arguing with him, an even appealing to his vanity (what will people think?). (see Exodus 32 ; 33)
- Don’t be afraid to be uncertain: don’t feel like you need to know the right answers. Modern Christianity has become a place where a lot of knowledge is seems as synonymous with a lot of faith. Certainty is something that certainly chirsitians do not suffer with, for they have the holy words of God. The problem with seeing the Bible as a prooftext is that was never the intention of the Biblical texts. And in modern American Christianity this obsession with being right, or knowing the truth is causing us to miss the entire point of the story.
The story from Genesis to Revelation is of God bringing the whole world back together, after we (humanity) chose to go our own way. God is restoring the heavens and the earth, and he is renewing humanity (the new humanity of Ephesians 2:15-16). WE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO HAVE ALL OF THE ANSWERS! This is important to remember and keep in front of you constantly. Especially since most traditions of Christianity have conditioned us to think we should have all the answers.
Remember even Jesus did not know everything, and even he was not afraid to say when he did not know something (Matthew 24:36 ; Mark 13:32) I have to often remind myself that had Jesus ever thought about the world around him he most likely assumed that the earth was flat, that there was a dome above us that held the primeaval waters, and the land was supported by large columns and that the ocean was underneath the land. He also probably thought of the stars and planets as spiritual beings. Why is this most likely true? Because Jesus was a first century Jew. And being fully human he most likely believed what a first century Jew thought about the world. Yes Jesus knew nothing of solar systems, planets, stars, galaxies, black holes, neutron stars, pulsars, and quasars. In fact Jesus like everyone else up until relatively recently knew nothing of Neptune, Uranus, Pluto, or everything else in the solar system that we still have yet to discover.
The point here is Jesus was not afraid to be uncertain, and neither should we.
Step One - Silence and Solitude
As part of a daily practice seek out silence and solitude at least once a day. This is commonly referred to as Meditation today. This can be a daunting task for many to sit in silence and solitude. We are recommending using something called headspace (app for your phone), for at least ten days to help start you on your daily meditation practice.
Headspace usually gives you ten days for free and you can learn more about them and sign up here:
Step Two - Walk with God
Go on daily walks with just you and God. This is another thing to add to your daily practice. Many people will think of this as a prayer walk. And in a sense this is. However, most Christians prayer life is in such a state that it is completely opposite to what talking with God should be. As Christians we should strive to have relationships with God like Moses and Jesus. We should talk to God like we would talk to an actual person. This means learning how to have conversations with God, not just telling him what we want or praising him for the sake of praising.
We need to learn how to walk and talk with God. Leave the podcast, audiobook, or music out of your ear and go for a walk with God. There may be moments of silence... that’s okay! You may feel alone in your thoughts... that’s okay too! Simply walk in a park or around your neighborhood, or even around your workplace. The important thing is that you are alone with God (even if there are other around) and invite him into your life.
Step Three - Go on a Trip With God
At least once a season go on a day trip or overnight trip with God. This is something that should be planned in advance and should be somewhere in nature. The wilderness is a place that really belongs to no one. It is the uncultivated parts of the Earth that are still wild. It is the place that Jesus, the prophets, and the holy people of old went out to meet with God.
This is where we must go too, so that we can meet with God on a semi regular basis. Leave everyone else behind. Try and keep your headphones out of your ears for the majority of the time (though God and I have had some great conversations about a podcast or audiobook that I was reading), and spend a longer period of time with God by yourself.
These three practices alone will transform your life, and will enable you to ask better questions of God by spending time with him.
Challenge of the Week (C.O.W.)
Every journey starts with a single step. Our goal is for us to personally share our takeaways and put things into action. Do you want to be held accountable? Or hold us accountable?
Choose one or two of the challenges below.
Welcome to the Life to the Full Community!
Episode Three C.O.W. (Ask Better Questions of God)
Challenge Number One:
Commit to a ten day practice of meditation. Follow the link above and download the headspace app on your phone. Start your meditation practice today!
Challenge Number Two:
Go and take a walk with God following some of the guidelines above. Plan out how you are going to be able to make this a daily practice.
Challenge Number Three:
Plan out either a day trip or an overnight trip to go out and meet with God. Keep the headphones out of your ears and simply be with God. Invite him into your thoughts and your feelings. Let him be a part of whatever is going on in your life.
Book nerds! Below are this episode's book recommendations. If you are interested in purchasing any of these books, then please use these links below.
They help support the show with no additional cost to you. Thanks in advance!
Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses by Bruce Feller
This is a great book and an easy read. There is a documentary too that was made after the book was published that sort of follows Bruce’s adventures in many of the locations mentioned in the Bible. It is a great read for Christians because Bruce is initially on a quest to determine the historicity of the Bible (i.e. did all of these things actually happen).
What Bruce finds instead is a sense of the otherworldly that transcends whether or not everything happened in the Bible exactly the way it was said to happen. Though in memoir form this book is one of the best introductions to the backdrop of the Bible that I have ever read.
Okay this section is for deeper dives. Here we will be recommending a variety of resources that we could not fit into the podcast. Some were mentioned on the podcast and some were not mentioned at all. They are videos, other podcasts, online classes, and other ramblings that Patty would not let Jimmy bring onto the podcast otherwise it would be a four hour show.
Also all promised handouts should be found here.
"The Youth Developer" is our YouTube Channel.
In this video Jimmy takes us with him on his solo trip to spend some time with God. We talked about this in episode 3 of the podcast in how to ask better questions of God. So we thought we would take you along for Jimmy’s latest solo trip so you can be equipped to plan out your own.