Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Walking in Faith

I know I haven’t blogged in ages… but a sweet friend encouraged me that I should blog again if I felt led to and so here I am… :).  Taking a step of faith to share what God has been teaching me the last month.

Faith.  For a five letter word, it is quite hefty and complex to unravel.  It means so many different things for every person and has a depth to it that I will never fully understand.  Yet, at the same time it is a word that is severely watered down for a lot of us.  We exercise faith daily in really mundane things and also complicated things.  I have faith that this chair I am sitting on is going to continue to hold me up.  I have faith that this water I am drinking is going to hydrate me even though I can’t see it happening.  And I also have faith in massively significant things like the gospel and that Jesus is who He says He is. I have faith in His promises.  Faith being the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1) is quite complicated. The word faith is often vague because of its overuse and many applications, but somehow is also still really simple.  

That being said, when I think about what God has been teaching me in this season it feels silly to say faith.  On one level it seems overly simple and elementary in ways. And on the other hand, not silly at all, because how could we ever fully come to know what it means to live by faith?  However, it is obvious that that is what He has been after me about: living and walking by faith. And this is only one aspect of I said it’s a multi-faceted, complicated word.

Faith in Him, what He can do, what He has called us to, who He says He is, and also, what it means to “have faith” or “live by faith.”

Every single morning for the past month God has been calling me out on my faith.  The first occurrence was in mid-January.  I was reading and praying one morning, overly anxious about something and I open an infertility email that spoke about Mark 4, when Jesus and His disciples were caught in a great storm.  Water was coming in the boat and Jesus was sleeping. The disciples woke him up saying something like, “Dude, don’t you see we are about to die?” In three words Jesus calmed the storm, “Peace, be still!” The wind ceased and there was a great calm. Then he said, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” After all you have witnessed and after the many ways I have been faithful to you, you STILL don’t have faith?  I confessed my lack of faith in a particular situation and I immediately felt my heart calm.  I was reminded that God can change a heart or circumstance in little or no words, a blink.  I also felt so convicted that I had become so fearful and had forgotten His ever-present  faithfulness.  I then opened my Jesus Calling devotional and what do you know, that day’s reading was about Peter walking on water and how he began to sink when he doubted. Jesus said to him, “O’ you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  Sarah Young writes, “Circumstances around you are undulating, and there are treacherous-looking waves in the distance.  Fix your eyes on Me, the One who never changes. By the time those waves reach you, they will have shrunk to the proportions of My design.”  Gee whiz, I was sensing a theme. Waves, faith and my doubt.  Then I get up and head to the room to get ready for the day, turn on Pandora and Hillsong’s song “Oceans” is streaming through the speakers. I am telling you…He has been after me like that about faith. And that was just one morning’s experience.  

I have had to pray every single day for God to increase my faith. And He has been so faithful to provide.  I love the story in Mark 9 when a father asks Jesus, “if He can,” heal his son from a demon. Jesus replies, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”  The father CRIED out, “I believe; help my unbelief.”  I have had to pray that so many times, “I believe, I have faith, Lord, but please increase my faith and belief where it is lacking.” It has been such a sweet time with the Lord, to audibly hear Him call me to faith, but then being able to admit my brokenness and inability to have perfect faith.  He has been so faithful to increase my trust and faith, while calling me deeper into it. How amazing is He?  He not only calls us to something, but also comes right alongside and gives us what we need.

As I have been journeying through faith, I have been having to ask what does it look like to have faith and exercise it?  I think in our culture we often wrap faith in this cute little bow and expect feelings of warm and fuzzy peace.  We think if God is asking us to take a step of faith, we will feel peace.  If we don’t feel peace, it must not be from the Lord. Or if God asks us to do something in faith that it will make sense or be clear. I had been praying that God would show me how to know when He is leading in a step of faith. Will I have peace and complete trust?  Will it always make sense? He led me to Hebrews 11.  Literally, that day I opened up to Hebrews 11 after praying the above.

>“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events yet UNSEEN, in REVERENT FEAR constructed an ark for the saving of his household.”  It does not say, in peace and complete trust he constructed an ark.  And surely, nothing about what God asked him to do made sense. I don’t even have to go into the ridiculousness of what God asked Noah to do.  But he did it anyway.

>“By faith Abraham OBEYED when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Obey means to submit, conform, and comply.  The word certainly doesn’t make you see the decision as filled with peace and assurance.  Abraham didn’t walk in faith with the stipulation that He would know where He was going or how it would turn out.  It was by faith.

>“By faith Abraham, when he was tested offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son of who it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’” I don’t imagine Abraham felt all warm and fuzzy, and at peace when offering his son as a sacrifice. He had faith in God’s promises regardless of the circumstances, although I am sure his heart wasn’t bursting with peace as he laid his son on the altar.  Nor did it make sense that God would ask Abraham to sacrifice the one through whom He promised his offspring would come.

>“By faith Moses, when he was grown refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, CHOOSING rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” Does it make sense that Moses would leave the Kingship he could see for the One he couldn’t?  But it was a choice. Scripture doesn’t paint this experience as one of warm and fuzzy peace.  He chose mistreatment and mocking over the powerful position of Pharaoh’s grandson.

>“By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as if on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same were drowned.”  Setting foot into the water to cross it certainly didn’t make sense, but they stepped into the water anyway. They didn’t know if they would get to the other side, but they wouldn’t know if they didn’t take the first step. And God was faithful.  

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon,Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises,stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us,that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:32-40.

ALL in faith. A clear testament to the fact that faith doesn’t always look warm and fuzzy, and full of peace. It is certainly clear that it doesn't always make sense. And being obedient to God’s leading and steps of faith doesn’t mean we will receive our reward here on earth.  Sometimes I think  I deserve the reward of what I took the step of faith for here and now. So self-righteous, I tell ya.  It isn’t promised for the here and now.  The reward could come or it could not.

BUT our God is so loving that even when He asks you to take a step of faith or to walk by faith, He promises to be WITH you and shows up to prod you along the way.  He has made me so aware of that, through the way He shows up daily to make His presence known to me.

By faith Jesus went to the cross for me. And that doesn’t make sense now does it?

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding MAY come before, in the middle, or after the step of obedience and faith is taken.  I think God has just been teaching me that it isn’t always beforehand. No matter the circumstances, good or bad, with prayer and thanksgiving (unto Him), the peace of God will come in the journey of walking it out by faith. He does assure us of that. Philippians 4:6-7

Monday, December 17, 2012

Well Said... Merry Christmas

A "Why" Christmas

December 12, 2012
I’m Dreaming of a “Why” Christmas
Sarah's Laughter Email Newsletter 

I recently heard a little girl sweetly singing a Christmas carol to the top of her lungs.  She had her angelic face tilted just perfectly, her eyes closed, and with all the gusto her 9 year old heart could muster, she belted out “I’m dreaming of a‘why’ Christmas!”   Not quite the Bing Crosby version most of us have grown up with, but perhaps the more appropriate one for those who face the holiday season with infertility.

There are so many, many “whys” during the holidays.  The strong emphasis placed on family relationships during this time of year spotlights the whys your heart carries.  Why can some people have babies so easily yet I am facing another year childless?  Why did my baby not survive yet another chose to abort?  Why does God choose to grant a healthy pregnancy to someone who calls her baby an “accident” when I have done any and every thing I can do to conceive and nothing has worked?  Why?  Why?  Why?

Are you struggling with a “Why Christmas” this year?  If so, then I encourage you to consider “Why Christmas?”  Why did God give us Christmas?  Imagine if you will, that an amazing miracle would occur today, and your doctor would call you and say that according to your latest test results you are perfectly pregnant.  All your hormone levels are exactly as they should be and  the next nine months are blissfully filled with your bulging belly and growing baby.  You give birth to a perfect child and all is right with the world.  You cannot believe the love your heart hold for this miracle in the flesh who has your eyes and your husband’s chin.  

However, in the greatest act of love imaginable, you hand this much desired baby over to someone else.  The love you hold for you baby is incomprehensible, but you know the other person will perish if you do not give them your child, and you cannot bear the thought, so with more compassion that you ever dreamed possible, you give them the gift of the baby you have desired so long.  This person doesn’t even know your name, doesn’t love your baby, and really doesn’t even care that this child exists.  You give your child to someone else because you know they need your baby to survive, and they don’t even realize it.  They look at you as if you’ve lost your mind, and they tell you they don’t want your baby and walk away.  

Can you imagine loving another person so much that you’d give your baby to them?  God can.  

God loves you so much, He gave His Baby to you on Christmas.  He gave you His Baby because He knew you needed Him to survive.   For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)  He knew your heart would be filled with so many “whys” this Christmas and you needed God Emmanuel, God with you. That’s why God gave Christmas.  

If your heart is filled with all the whys of infertility, and you’re dreaming of a “why Christmas”, remind yourself of why God gave us Christmas.  He loves us.  He gave us His Baby.  God Emmanuel.  God with us.  God with us through the good time.  God with us in the bad times.  God with us at the doctor’s offices.  God with us when the periods starts and the pregnancy tests are negative.  God with us through the tearful nights.  God with us in good times.  God with us when family celebrations are too hard.  He is God with us because God gave us His Son that first Christmas night.  God with us to make a way for sins to be forgiven so we can be with Him for eternity.

That is why God gave us Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Different Pair of Glasses...

Sunday I woke up to a text from a friend who attended the early service at church.  He reminded me and Brad how much he cared for us.  Immediately I asked, "Thank you. Do I need tissues for church?"  When we walked through the doors of church my sweet mother-in-law snuck me a tissue.  Uh oh.  Here we go.
         I am really posting what was shared on the other side of those doors to encourage all of my "without" children friends to think of the broken hearted all around us.  Not to say to anyone reading this, "Please think of me,"  but rather to all of us, "Let's think of them."  The whole time I listened to this sermon I was in awe of two things and in addition thankful for an encouragement for me personally.  First thing, Doug nailed it.  I think the Lord gave him great insight into this passage, Acts 12:1-19.  There was half of a sentence dedicated to James and his beheading.  There is a whole lot behind that one sentence...and a whole lot of hearts affected by the news given in that one sentence.  I believe, the insight wrapped up in that short one lined statement is a lot of people's experience, but most people skip over it and focus on the Peter like celebrations.  I am not going to tell you more, you just have to listen to the sermon. :)  And if you don't listen to it, the rest of this post will make NO sense.


        Secondly, I think he gives great insight on the perspective that I somewhat believe can only truly be gained by experiencing pain, heartache, or loss yourself.  I thought it was such a good reminder.  I had a list of people running through my head as he spoke.  Infertility has given me those glasses.  Sometimes I want take them off because it hurts too bad, but I am thankful to see people in a different way.  Doug said, "When you are experiencing joy, you can be sure someone else is experiencing heartache."  Sometimes it is exhausting, but in most instances of joy my heart is immediately burdened for someone in the room that might be extremely saddened by the celebration.  Odd right?   I felt like this sermon is my life experience.  I have been that person in the room whose heart is shattering and I think it has given me such an awareness of those people...the Jameses (family and friends of James really) in the room.  I thought it was such a great reminder to all of us (but directly speaking to my infertile friends) to put our life experience into practice.  We know firsthand why the holidays make us sad in a lot of ways and usually  it is the absence of a loved one in some form or the presence of an unmet desire for a loved one in some form.  The joy that lots of people are experiencing highlight the absence of joy in many hearts.  But we, I, often don't act to reach out to those people.
           I am often afraid to act on the things God places on my heart to do for the Jameses in my life. I don't want to offend them or stir something that would make them sad.  Doug shares a personal story about a friend that reminds him that his act of encouragement is no reminder, because he has never forgotten and minute by minute he remembers his loss.  It couldn't be more true.  I know that to be true for myself, your calling me when another friend announces a pregnancy or birth is not reminding me that we aren't.  Trust me.  You can pretty much guarantee we are processing through the emotions of all of that...thrilled for our friends, but broken too.  But acknowledging blesses.  You aren't reminding us of anything.   And for some reason the acknowledgement heals and gives courage.  YET, even though I know this firsthand,  I am still fearful of acting all the time when I know a heart is breaking in a time of celebration. I fall short. Thank you, Lord, for grace and lots of it.
         My challenge to you, my friends and myself, is to act on the heartache God opens your eyes to this Christmas and all year round.  I have shared with my Common Thread girls that God has given me a heart for single people and widows.  How are their hearts hurting this Christmas?  How can I love on them?  I CANNOT fix or change their situation, but I can acknowledge it.  Acknowledgment comforts.  Perhaps it throws a rope to the island where isolation is setting in?  I think often people think that acknowledging is encouraging someone to wallow, and maybe in some unique cases that might be true, but it's not.  You are simply agreeing that you are grieving with them.
        Personally, in attempting to not let satan steal my joy this Christmas, I have to hour by hour put on and put off  the thoughts that keep my eyes on me and my desires.  As I was typing, I looked up at our tree (the one I had to battle to put up because part of my heart didn't really want to), I thought, "What I wouldn't give to have little ones around our Christmas tree!"   As soon as I finished typing that sentence, the Holy Spirit whispered, "Oh, but how many children would give anything in the world to sit around your tree?"  Put off, put on.  Thank you for your perspective, Jesus. Ouch, I hear ya.  So eyes off self and eyes on the Jameses in my life.
          Christmas is about my savior being born. "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord," Luke 2:11.   And because He was born the Lord was able to, "...give his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life," John 3:16b. "For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast," Ephesians 2:8-9.  And because a Savior was born, what does it mean for the Jameses?

"He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the LORD has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the LORD; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
                                                 (Isaiah 25:8-9)

"He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure."
                                               (Psalm 147:3-5)
            How can we possibly comfort them?   "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too," 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.  Simply by sharing the love and comfort we have received through our Lord and Savior.  What a fight it will be to keep this perspective this Christmas.  There are a lot of hurting people all around us.  
             In processing all of that, I was highly encouraged by Doug's statement that it is not sinful to be the James (or family members of) in the room. I beat myself up a lot. Okay, a lot, a lot.  To say I am hard on myself is an understatement.  My mom used to say she didn't have to punish me because I punished myself.  :/ My sweet friend Melissa Price has to continually remind me that it is okay to grieve and that it is not sinful as long as I don't stay there.   I get so mad at myself when my heart is not leaping for joy at every pregnancy announcement, or every baby picture, or family photo posted on Facebook.  I get frustrated that my heart is even a little sad.  I hear satan say, "You are so selfish."  It was so nice to hear someone confirm AGAIN, that it is okay to grieve.  "Grieving is not the absence of believing, but the evidence of loving," Doug Rutt...or for me, wanting to grow the love Brad and I have for each other, and to share that love with little ones.  Grieving doesn't mean I don't believe every child is a good gift and that I am not rejoicing with them, but it does mean that part of  my heart is burdened.  And that is okay.  God's word says, "Rejoice IN THE LORD always; again, I will say Rejoice," Philippians 4:4.  I am commanded to REJOICE in the HOPE that I have in HIM.  Rejoicing with hope means that there must be part of you that is broken and HOPING in Christ.  If we were perfectly, fully rejoicing, why would we need to hope in Him?  Maybe I can stop beating myself up so much.
        "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weap," Rom. 12:15.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope," Romans 15:13.

On another note:

A sweet friend who I met by accepting an invitation to a spontaneous trip to the Keys, Lauren White, sent me a text a few days ago with a link to a most encouraging blog.  I could so relate to this post and the pictures in it, as I am sure many of you could also.  I was so excited to see the beautiful color her children brought to the pictures. :)  A great reminder of God's PERFECT timing.

And then Lauren sent another...totally sucked in...

Hope these blogs encourage you too!  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

Excerpt from Sarah's Laughter Email Support:

Today is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day, a day set aside to honor babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant loss.  Surely life has no greater sorrow than the loss of a child.  How grateful we are that God Himself understands this hurt.

Tears are frequent companions along the road you travel.  They appear at the most inconvenient times and refuse to be silenced.  Your heart is heavy from the burden you bear, and life insults you by continuing on.

You have an appointment, and it is one your heart will want to keep.  Facing the loss of your precious babies, appointments with doctors become something that we tend to fear or dread.  We grow weary of bad reports and worse realities.  Many times the appointments raise more questions than ever, and they all remain unanswered.  But there is an appointment set for you with the One who holds every answer to every question your heart has ever asked.  You have an appointment with God.

One day, you will stand face to face with the God who chose to allow you to suffer through the unbelievable sorrow of the death of your babies.  One day, you will look into the eyes of Love Himself and finally have a conversation with the only One who knows the reasons why.   What will God do?  The answer is found in Revelation 21:3-5:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, say, “Behold, the tabernacle of God
is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and
God Himself will be among them, and

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain;

the first things have passed away.”  And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

Your tears will come to an end that day.  The same hand that formed the first man, the same hand that stretched out over raging waters and calmed a storm, the same hand that had a nail driven through it, the same hand that formed your babies in your womb, will one day reach out to you again, and wipe the tears from your face.  He’ll lock eyes with you and touch your face.  Your tears and your hurt will vanish, never to take residence in your heart again.  With compassion unmatched through time and eternity, your Heavenly Father will make all things new, and will banish sorrow and mourning from your heart.  No more death.  No more pain.  No more prematurity.  No more separation.  All things will be made new.

Until that day, weep when you need to.  The same Lord who will wipe your tears away takes note of those same tears today, and He keeps them in a bottle.  He promises to be near to you when you are brokenhearted.  He must be close today.

So grieve as you need to.  Just don’t grieve as those who have no hope.  Your tears will end one day, and you’ll see your babies again.  It’s an appointment I know you’ll want to keep.

(c) 2012 Sarah’s Laughter-Christian Support for Infertility & Child Loss

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Continually Relevant

I was cleaning out a few things yesterday and stumbled upon an old note from a friend.  I believe the note is about 7-9 years old and is from my college days.  I had to chuckle as I read it, because I was apparently struggling with the same thing years ago that I am today...just different circumstances.  And the great thing is God's word is still relevant and still carries the same level of truth.

I am currently seeking to be content in our circumstances and to find ways to serve since we are flexible and don't have children.  :)  I am attempting to sow and live in today, not focusing so much on the uncontrollable future. Today holds so many blessings and if I am continually looking forward worrying about what our future holds OR doesn't hold for that matter, I will miss out on today's gifts and opportunities.

I am sure I will pick up this very same card  in another 10 years and still be trying to apply it, a timeless truth. :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Self Talk

As many of you already know, we lost another pregnancy.  We now have six little ones who rest with our Lord and King.  It will be the dang Brady Bunch when Brad and I get to heaven!   I am still processing and grieving the baby lost, pregnancy in itself, and motherhood.  Maybe I can find words for all of that some day soon.  Until then I am fighting to speak truth to myself.  I dug up some old counseling materials from my time with Michele.  I was encouraged again by these words to seek truth though God's word, so that I can get back in right thinking about our circumstances. I hope it encourages you where ever He has you.

"The point is we found our happiness and contentedness in the relationship, not in our circumstances.

The same principle applies but on a much grander scale when we know God well and consider the kind of person Who is in our circumstances with us.  This was the attitude of the prophets and the apostles.  Though they faced persecution and adversity, they were amazingly joyful and content because of what they experienced in their relationship with God Himself.  The is the divine intention for all of us.

We must learn to interpret our experiences by what we know about God through His Word instead of interpreting what God is like by our experiences.  If we do not ground our belief about the nature of God and His disposition to us in the Scriptures, we will reject much of what He says about Himself when we face difficulty." Tracking : The Way Down."

The Lord gave me this passage right before we got our "no."

"Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him!
Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
from men by your hand, O LORD,
from men of the world whose portion is in this life.
You fill their womb with treasure;
they are satisfied with children,
and they leave their abundance to their infants.
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness."
(Psalm 17:13-15 ESV)

Lord, may I be content with you growing us up in you and shaping us to your likeness.  It's my prayer that I would get there.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Our Father Wants Us to Ask

Lately, God has been teaching me more about prayer.  Sounds like a simple subject right?  Wrong. haha.  A new amazing friend asked me if she could pray in a very specific manner for our next round of treatment.  The idea the Lord gave her spurred me to get on here and share what God has taught me in recent months about prayer.  I don't fully understand all that is prayer, but I God has given me a few tid bits over the last few months that have been thrilling and so encouraging. I hope this post does your heart well also and stirs the desire to pray more boldly.

     I think because I believe in God's sovereignty and believe that His GOOD will will be done, I struggle with prayer.  I know that God will do what is best for us and I want what He wants anyway.  I have no problem praying for someone else and asking God to do something in his or her life.  None at all.  And I love praying for other people.  I have a hard time praying for myself.  
        It's certainly not because I don't think I need it.  :)  It is hard to ask God for something, when in the end I just want what He wants for us.  So I start to ask God if He could move or do something in a particular situation and I end up with nothing to say except for, "I know your works are kind and that your plan for me is good.  So, Lord may your will be done with me.  We want what you want for our family."   I never, ever want to receive anything outside of God's good will or to ask Him anything that might be out of it.   It's crazy living up in this head of mine. haha.
         God has been showing me through other people in my life that He does want us to ASK Him for His blessings.  It doesn't mean we will always get them.  And it doesn't mean He won't change what we are asking for until it aligns with His heart, but He does want His children to come before His throne and ASK.
         “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.  Whatever you ASK in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ASK me anything in my name, I will do it," John 14: 12-14.   I do believe Jesus, is referring to asking for Him to act on our behalf when doing works to honor Him. Works that He would do if He were here. But ultimately He is asking us to ASK.  And He will answer so that God will be glorified.
       "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ASK the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another," John 15: 16-17.   I believe in my finite understanding  that Jesus is telling us to ask for His blessings to bear fruit  and His power to love one another.  He is  telling us to ASK.
       "So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.  In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ASK of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.  Until now you have asked nothing in my name. ASK, and you will receive, that your joy may be full," John 16: 22-24.  Jesus is talking about when He goes away to be at the right hand of God.  He says He wants us to ASK so that our joy may be full.  How kind of our God?  Ask so that I can give you power to do my works, power to love one another, and further so that your joy may be full!  
       He loves when we ask because it is a joy for Him to answer.  If we don't ask for it, would we lose sight of just how big of a blessing His answer is?  I think I often do.  When I ask God to do something specifically and He answers, I want to pick up the phone and tell everyone.  It is hard to miss when He answers if you asked for something specific.   We become so unaware of His blessings when they are just there and we didn't ask for them.  
    I have also been noting all over the scriptures how much God notes our prayers being HEARD. "In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.  And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.  But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years," and angel appeared to Zechariah while he was on duty serving as a priest and, "...the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Zecheriah, for YOUR PRAYER HAS BEEN HEARD, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John," Luke 1:5-7, 13.  God to Rachel, who was also barren, "Then God remembered Rachel, and God LISTENED to her and opened her womb.  She conceived and bore a son (Joseph)..." Genesis 30:22.  "And Isaac PRAYED to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren.  And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived,"  Genesis 25:21.   And also with Abraham, "Then Abraham PRAYED to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children.  For the Lord had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife," Genesis 20: 17-18.  God hears our prayers and loves both the prayers of His sons and daughters.

Genesis 30:6
Then Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son.” Therefore she called his name Dan.

Exodus 2:24
And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

Exodus 3:7
Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings,

Deuteronomy 26:7-8.
Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.  And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders.

Psalm 6:9The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer.

Need I say more?  I am loving this study of God hearing our prayers. I could have listed 70 more verses, but I know you wouldn't read them all ;).   He wants to hear from us.  Brad and  I have grown weary in our prayers, because we again want what God wants and we know that God knows our hearts' desires.  We feel like broken records sometimes. :)  I am encouraged tonight to pray specifically and to ASK...then I am going to trust that He HEARS me.  The answers might not come on our timing or look like we expected, but we will know if He does answer if we pray  and ASK Him for specific blessings.