The story is told of a man who found an old bottle, and when he opened it, out popped a genie. (I didn’t say it was a true story.) The genie told the man he would grant him three wishes, with one condition. Whatever he asked for, his mother-in-law would receive twice as much.
The man thought for a while, then gave the genie his requests. “For my first wish, I want ten million dollars. For my second wish, I want a large, furnished luxury home. And finally…I want you to beat me half to death!”
A bad joke, I know. But it does bring to mind our fascination with tales like Aladdin, the old sitcom “I Dream of Jeanie” and even Shaquille O’Neal’s noteworthy acting debut as an oversized genie from a boom box in the critically acclaimed 1996 classic film Kazaam. (Okay, it really wasn’t that good).
Why do these mythical genies get our attention? Because we love to dream of having our wishes granted, of having access to someone who can give us anything we want. All we have to do is ask.
I guess you know where this is heading, so let’s go there. I was reading the story of Jesus’ healing of blind Bartimaeus again this week, from Mark 10, about how Jesus responded to that needy man. “What do you want me to do for you?” He asked. When Bartimaeus told Jesus he wanted to see, Jesus told him, “Go, your faith has healed you.”
Did you notice who made the “prayer request” on this miraculous occasion? It was Jesus. He was the initiator. He asked Bartimaeus, “What do you want?” And Bartimaeus needed only to answer to give his “prayer request” to Jesus.
Have you ever considered that’s how prayer is even now. No, the Lord is not a genie from a bottle, but He has extended an invitation for us to bring our needs to Him (Phil. 4:6). He asks, “What do you want?” and our prayer to Him is not really a request, but an answer to His request. He really wants to bless us, but most often we “have not, because we ask not” (James 4:2)
So, what DO you want? And what do you need? Ask Him. You just might be surprised how He works in your life.