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Do You Make This Mistake When You Pray?

Do You Make This Mistake When You Pray? -christyfitzwater.com

It didn’t used to matter to me –whether the Awana kids said the question or if I did. I figured the important part of their handbook time on Wednesdays was if they could state the truth they were learning and then recite from memory the Bible verse to support that truth.

But then I considered the point made by Paul David Tripp, in Instruments in the Redeemer’s hands, that often people get bad answers to their life questions because their questions are bad to begin with.

So now I’m that mean Awana teacher who insists the kids begin their recitation with the question.

“It’s a kind of learning called a catechism,” I tell them, “in which you say the question and then give the answer,” Quickly I try to explain how important good questions are, before their eyes glaze over and they’re like, Yeah, yeah, lady. Just listen to my verses, will ya? 

The kids don’t understand, because they weren’t there the day the squall came up.

Waves started to come over the edge of the boat, until everyone was sure they were about to die. So the woke up Jesus, who was asleep in the stern, and asked him a question.

QUESTION: Don’t you care if we drown?  (Mark 4:38 NIV)

ANSWER: Jesus must not care or he wouldn’t be sleeping. He wouldn’t be doing nothing.

My Awana kids weren’t there to see Jesus calm the storm by speaking to it. They weren’t there to hear the disciples scolded.

Scolded for what?

Scolded for asking a faulty question that was devoid of faith.

So let’s imagine that the disciples had taken care to formulate an excellent question –the way a teenager does who wants to borrow your car keys. Let’s imagine the disciples had asked something that had caused Jesus to say, “Wow guys, because of your amazing show of faith, watch this.” And then he would turn to the waves and tells them to be quiet.

I have in my mind the question they would have asked, but I’m not going to tell you.

As an exercise in good question asking, I want you to write down what you think they should have asked –either in the comment section below or privately on a piece of notepaper. Be thoughtful. What question would have pleased Jesus?

And then let’s consider our own lives. Certainly we all are asking questions about what we’re experiencing, but are they good questions that please the Lord with our faith?



  1. Jeannette Shields says:

    I have a wayyyy yyy off the subject question : I do not read the Bible every day. I read devotionals/blogs or listen to sermons online instead. Then, if they refer to a verse (s) in the Bible, I look it up to make sure my Bible lines up with theirs. On Sundays, I trust our pastor so thoroughly that I just listen to him, rather than read the verses by myself. Then, I go home and double check, if I wasn’t sure what he said or if I disagreed. If we have a special speaker I do not know, I read the Bible along with them.

    Another off the subject question : There’s no way I would date a nonbeliever, but what about if we disagree doctrinally? I am 53, so I don’t have to worry that our children will be confused. Plus,there’s not a guy on the horizon!, but I was just wondering.

    Thank you. These questions I’ve been wondering about.

    1. I’ve been thinking about how to answer you, Jeannette. Thank you for your questions. I want to send you to 2 Timothy 3:16, where Paul tells timothy that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” It is Scripture that is going to teach you. It is Scripture that is going to rebuke and correct you, if you’re going the wrong direction. It is Scripture that is your trainer in how to live in a way that is pleasing to God. For this reason, you should be reading Scripture every day -reading it, meditating on its truths, and memorizing it. Is it wrong not to read the Bible every day? No. But I would say it is foolish and shows a lack of desire to be know God intimately and to be transformed by his life-giving words. I would challenge you to set aside the sermons and blogs for the summer, even though those have a certain value. Get up every day and start reading through one of the Gospels -one small section at a time. Spend a long time thinking about what you’re reading and talking to the Lord about it. Get a note card and write down one verse from your reading that you’re going to try to memorize that day. Carry that Bible verse around with you all day. If you take that challenge, come back to me and tell me if there is not a huge difference in devouring the Bible for yourself, instead of relying on someone else to spoon feed it to you.

      As for your second question, I think the answer is the same. How much do you value the word of God? Have you come to doctrinal understanding by your own hard work and study of the Bible? If you know Whom and what you believe, how willing are you going to be, to pair up with a guy who doesn’t agree with you? If the Bible is where you go every morning, for teaching, correction, rebuke, and training in righteousness, don’t you want to date a guy who agrees with you about the truth of Scripture?

      I hope these answers spur you to open your Bible every day and value it as a great treasure.

      1. Jeannette says:

        As always, this has been invaluable help and encouraging. I am going to take you up on the challenge starting today!
        Regarding the second question…the man I’m thinking of and hope he’s thinking of me ( 😉 ) believes baptism is necessary for salvation, while I have always (since my conversion at 18) been taught it is a ‘next step to show the world you, the baptized one, want to follow Christ now’.
        Maybe ‘doctrine’ was the wrong word.
        Regardless, thank you!

        1. Baptism is definitely a doctrine that needs to be considered carefully.

          If you study covenant throughout the Bible, you will see that when a covenant is made there is always a sign of the covenant. For example, God made a covenant never to destroy the world by flood again, and the sign of that covenant was the rainbow. The sign of God’s covenant with Abram was circumcision. So what is the sign of the new covenant made through Christ? Baptism. Is it the baptism that saves? No -baptism is not the covenant itself, but it is a sign that a solemn covenant has been entered into. What does it say about a person who says he is ready to follow Christ but then is unwilling to demonstrate the sign of that commitment?

          In Mark 16:16, Jesus says, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Interesting that he says “baptized” in the first statement made in that sentence but not in the second. I think that to anyone who understands covenant, it would go without saying that a sign of the covenant would be a part of making the commitment. But there is a mountain of other Scripture that points to believing as the mode of salvation. For example, Abraham believed, and that belief was credited to him as righteousness.

          All that to say, I can see why a look at Mark 16:16 would make a person link baptism to salvation. My own brother and his wife share this belief about the necessity of baptism in salvation, but in our relationship faith in Christ is held as the main thing. It’s not divisive. The question is, if you end up with this guy, is it going to be a divisive difference down the road? Can you come to an agreement that faith in Christ is supreme and be okay with that? And is it the only place of difference or are there others?

          Well, this was probably way more than you wanted to hear from me today! hahaha

  2. What are you trying to teach us, Lord? How (not why) do you want me to walk through this storm?

  3. Master, I know you can, will you?

  4. Master, Jesus, we need your help.

  5. Question: How will Jesus keep us from drowning?

    Answer: I know Jesus will not let us drown. He must have an amazing plan.

  6. Elaine Brown says:

    “Master, tell us what we need to do to be saved!”

      1. Nia Carter says:

        I read your blog post on Charisma Magazine’s website but could not quite grasp what you were getting at. Reading the article here on your blog helps. Maybe being more direct by using concrete examples of the wrong kinds of questions we ask when we pray in the body of the post instead of at the end would make it easier to understand your point. Excellent point. Thank you and bless you for your ministry.

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