How to Ask God a Question

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Exhibit A: “Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How do you expect me to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is too old to give me a child. What sign can you give me to prove this will happen?’” (Luke 1:19, tPt).

Exhibit B: “And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’”(Luke 1:34, ESV).

First, Luke gives us Zechariah’s interaction with Gabriel, as an illustration of how not to ask God a question. Fifteen verses later, he narrates for us Mary’s encounter with the exact same angel. Her response is the perfect demonstration of how to present our queries before Him, the right way. The parallelism is unmistakable. Holy Spirit sets up this contrast very intentionally.

Both inquiries begin with the word “How” and end with a question mark. However, they are entirely distinct from each other. The bottom line difference is that Zechariah’s question is born out of disbelief. Mary’s query springs from quite the opposite: faith. Zechariah’s words spill out from his heart in contradiction to what God had promised. Mary’s words actually affirm her confidence in God’s message and seek to more deeply understand it.

Daddy God delights in questions that flow from our trust in Him. In fact, He eagerly welcomes them. Gabriel goes on to provide the explanation that Mary has humbly requested. On the other hand, he does not bother to respond to Zechariah’s questioning with a direct answer, but rather expresses displeasure with the aging man’s unbelief.

If we approach our Father with questions from a submissive, trusting, meek heart, He overflows with pleasure. However, if we refuse to believe it when He speaks, we may miss out on some of the blessedness that only faith can bring. In Zechariah’s case, it cost him the power of speech for the duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy.

Words are so powerful; God needed to ensure that His son wouldn’t charge the spiritual atmosphere with any more negativity! So for Zechariah’s own good, He lovingly put some heavenly tape over his mouth while He got to work initiating the miracle of John the Baptist’s conception.

Meanwhile, Mary was free to sing out His praises. For you see, He really does like our earnest, sincere questions. As a matter of fact, He treasures our drawing near to inquire of Him. He relishes the confidence displayed when we are not afraid to ask Him what we are wondering about. He profoundly enjoys the experience of our trust when we enter into utterly transparent dialogue with Him. He even cherishes it when we pour out our messy, raw emotions to Him, holding nothing back. This also reflects deep trust in Him.

The Lord may respond to our questions quickly, or He may not. There are times when His answers come much later in our unfolding story. Nonetheless, He will always converse richly with us, each and every time we draw near. And if it is not yet His perfect timing to shed light on the mysteries that we are wondering about, He will instead gently minister to our uncertainties with His immense love.

Trust in Him with all your heart. Drawing near in a spirit of submissive abandon to Him, boldly yet humbly share with Him everything that is on your mind. Ask every question that is pressing on your thoughts and emotions. And then rest in Him, knowing He will answer at exactly the right time.

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Do you feel comfortable asking God tough questions?

 

30 thoughts on “How to Ask God a Question

  1. Jennifer, what a beautiful coincidence that we had the same thought. Read this chapter yesterday and I was focusing on how Zechariah and Mary questioned Angel Gabriel. And wrote a short note at the margin of my Bible.
    What is the difference in how they question?
    Zechariah filled with doubt frames his question by limiting God within his physical boundaries (he and his wife were advanced in years). Whereas Mary frames her question within the Moral boundaries that God has placed ( she is a virgin). One boxes God with his doubt and the other in no way could comprehend stepping out of the boundaries that God desires for His children to walk in.

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    1. This is so beautiful and interesting to reflect upon because as a kid God was asking me to “break” the moral boundaries in His Name also, but unlike Mary I chose to bow to those moral boundaries (the law of Moses) I knew so well (and my idols of self and man), agreeing with my accuser that I must be “evil” for even having at first followed what I now know was in fact God’s beautiful and living Word.

      When God opened my eyes to a newborn faith in Him (I wasn’t looking for Him, He came and picked me up out of the thorn bush), He again set me before the same choice – break the law of Moses (man’s interpretation of God’s Word) to love Me or bow to the law of Moses, pride and man. This time, by the grace of God, I chose to follow the Voice of my LORD and Savior, which meant leaving the religion I knew to follow the God I discovered I didn’t know as well as I thought I did.

      But now, a few years later, I feel much like Zechariah. I have those doubts that are based on the physical boundaries, and yet I KNOW our God can do anything! He has proven it to me again and again. So, I’ve been praying through these feelings, laying bare my heart, while also affirming His Word to me and His power. Perhaps, like Zechariah, I too have allowed my heart to harden in the pain. Oh may God have mercy on me.

      Thank you for sharing this. It’s a gift.

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  2. Yes I have asked those tough questions, and I know HIS answer is always true and right. I trust GOD more than myself and stand on HIS promises. HIS truth is what I am continually after, not the world’s or my own. Sometimes we wait for HIS answers, but I have learned over the years to rest in the waiting.

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  3. What’s beautiful to me is that the Promise given to Zechariah could not be thwarted by his unbelief. For me the greatest lesson here is God’s reminder to us that ALL is grace. I remember reading in a Bible lexicon that the Word “faith” literally means to be persuaded by God to do His will. Mary needed little persuading because she was already in a humble and trusting state to receive from her God.

    Zechariah had been through a long and painful journey of infertility and needed God’s kindness to get to that place of receiving what was in fact already his. His heart was hardened and shut off from trusting: no doubt because he had chosen to hide and numb away his pain, trying to be “good”. But praise God that (Romans 11:29): “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” and our loving and compassionate God saw not just a hardened unbelieving heart before him, but a man, who beneath all that hardening, so longed to receive his Father’s love and to love his God in return with his whole heart.

    Now, when I reflect on God’s discipline of Zechariah, I see it as His kindness at work. For, imagine how much Zechariah’s prayer life must have grown in that silence! I believe that God was lifting away Zechariah’s unbelief (just as He has and still is mine) – by building Zechariah up in His love, through those months of silence. He was proving to Zechariah that His Promises are not dependent upon us (in our human frailty), but upon Him alone – upon our God who works all things into good for those who love him. Oh how Zechariah would need that trust with what (imprisonment and beheading) awaited his son for following Jesus – just as Mary would, as she watched her beloved son and Savior being crucified.

    My heart has been resting in the months Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth. Such kindness in how God brought them together in those months of carrying their Promise to fulfillment. No doubt Mary was such a gift to Elizabeth in Zechariah’s mute state – a companion to share her heart with and receive encouragement from and Elizabeth to Mary in her young age. I wonder if they were also a great comfort to each other in their sons’ deaths those years later. It’s almost like God was preparing them both through that precious time together – not just to carry the Promise to fulfillment but to surrender their Promise into their Heavenly Father’s arms. I am so thankful for the Elizabeths in my life – God’s surrounded me with them and each one of them is so very precious and so led of and filled with the Spirit of God.

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  4. Oh this is so beautiful: John means Yahweh is gracious!! Isn’t that beautiful? I never knew that. And Zechariah means “Yahweh remembers”. Oh that makes me cry. Thank you for being God’s prompting to look that up.

    And I already knew Elizabeth means God is an oath (I looked that up in studying all the people God surrounded my own hardened heart with) – which is so fitting in all of this too. Oh how precious is God’s every Word to us. No Word of His ever fails to bear the fruit for which it is sent. For our God is not like us man – He is so very patient with us, slow to anger and rich in kindness, not wanting even one soul to perish or fail to fulfill their purpose in Him.

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    1. Yes! Those name meanings have meant a lot to me in my dream journals. I have draemed multiple times about people with the names John and Elizabeth, and those meanings went in so deep. So neat to think about them in the context of these stories too!

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      1. My brother-in-law’s name is John, as is my dad’s, as is the pastor of our church that I grew up in. The Lord has used all three of them as recurring symbols in my dreams, of His grace and favor towards me.

        And the name Elizabeth, he used as a symbol through putting more than one person that I know into my dreams, named Elizabeth or variants of Elizabeth — to emphasize promises that He has made to me personally. Especially about my son, and the way that he will know and encounter and walk with Jesus. And sure enough, he was baptized in June, and the Father has been doing really amazing things in him!

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      2. Love this!! The pastor I have interceded for for several years (from near and afar) has a double name and one of those names is John too. About two years after I had left his church, the LORD laid him on my heart (after a while of not doing so). I cried and cried praying for him and his family. Days later I heard he had had his position stripped and was forced to leave. I hadn’t stayed in touch (because God had asked me to break ties) but He beautifully brought me to a church they began attending just one time (not longer because He showed me the need for separate paths of healing) – so I got to see them and hug his wife (also a returned Prodigal and PK like me). John was also the name of the Romanian pastor who assisted my Dad in arranging aid trips and with the adoption of my little brother. I was only 8 and 9 at the time (just after the Revolution) but I will never forget the warmth of that man and his beautiful wife (a Lydia).

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      3. BTW I would love to hear more of your son’s story, if he was willing to share. You can also message me privately.

        I also wanted to let you know that God brought another John to remembrance. A little boy whose mother I prayed for through cancer. God led me to pray healing into a dinner I made for her and the card and fruit basket I brought to her. He was faithful to His Word. I was reminded of him a few years later again because my daughter saw him crying. I got to hear more of his story. God’s surely got his hand on that little boy and his family. They have suffered much, but in great suffering great grace and redemption for many is flowing.

        And your posts also reminded me of another healing and how God revealed that healing in the midst of deep spiritual attack upon me and my family. Right when I cried out to Him and asked Him how He could let the attack happen – He placed me somewhere I wouldn’t have been were it not for that attack – and it’s then I saw the man I had prayed for walking in front of me – healed.

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      4. Wow! What powerful, unforgettable testimonies! Our Daddy God really does know what He’s doing, doesn’t He? How beautiful that He has allowed you to be part of His healing gifts that way 🙂

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  5. A thought provoking post Indeed. I thank GOD that under the Covenant carved at Calvary HIS holy SPIIRIT enables us now to live our lives of Grace without all the Mosaic Laws that were impossible to keep. This New law of LOVE enables our questioning to be as a little child to OUR FATHER. Morality should be always out of love for HIM. all life decisions governed by His Grace and our LOVE.

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