A few years back I made one simple change in the way I pray — asking Questions for Jesus — and my percentage of answered prayer went up about 1000%. After 35 years as a Christian, 25 as a ministry leader and 15 of coaching pastors about how to meet God (irony alert!), I was still asking Him all the wrong questions. When I finally figured out how to change the subject to what He wanted to talk about, it was like our communication went from snail mail to instant messaging—and got way more intimate and revelatory in the process.
Questions for Jesus is about that change of subject. It moves you from praying about the business of the Christian life to talking with Jesus about Us—about our relationship. For example, here are some common, everyday prayers I often used to pray:
- “What do you want me to do…?”
- “Forgive me for what I did…”
- “Help me to do…”
- “Bless what we are doing…”
Going to Work
When I made requests like that, morning devotions felt like work—which is no surprise, because that’s what my prayers were about: work. Almost all of them contained the word “do.” He and I were supposed to be in love—heck, we were engaged to be married!—but I had no time for getting to know my fiance’, gazing longingly in his eyes or even for a kiss. No, there was work to be done! It’s like in a marriage: you can get in a mode where all you talk about is paying the bills and how to discipline the kids and whose turn it is to do the dishes. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the business of life that you forget the romance of being married to the love of your life.
Fortunately, God had a secret plan to revolutionize my business-oriented prayer life. Now we mostly talk about what we like about each other, what we’re thinking and feeling, and our future in heaven; and a lot less about my next assignment and past mistakes. It was as if Jesus was eagerly waiting for me ask about what he cared about most, and when I did it unleashed a flood of conversation. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to answer my prayers before—he just longed for us to talk about the relationship and the romance instead of just the business.
Relationship vs. Business
Here are some examples of Questions for Jesusthat are about the relationship instead of the business:
- “Jesus, what do you like best about me today?”
- “Jesus, why’d you make leaves green? I mean, you could have made everything gray, or the color of mud, or no color at all. Why green?”
- “When you called James and John, and they left their business and their dad behind to run down the beach after you—what was going on in your heart in that moment?”
- “Jesus, what did I do today that made you laugh?”
Once you get the hang of it, this style of prayer is richly rewarding—and a lot of fun! Jesus says the craziest things. The other day I was in Arizona, stranded in a church parking lot waiting for a ride. I looked up at the row skinny palm trees flanking the lot and said, “Jesus, those things look like a weed on top of a pole! Why’d you make them that way?” To which he replied, “Well, it wouldn’t have worked too well if people had tried to lay gnarly oak branches at my feet for me to walk on when I was entering Jerusalem.” Okay—now palm trees make sense to me.
Or a while back I was feeling a little guilty about missing my devotions. Instead of reflexively doing something to make it up to him, I just told him what I felt. “Jesus, I’m feeling kinda bad because I haven’t spent much time with you in the last couple days. What do you want to say to me about that?”
He showed me a picture of the British ambassador landing in Washington D.C. When he stepped out of the plane, a military band on the runway played the British national anthem while important officials rolled out the red carpet, greeted him warmly and escorted him to a waiting limo. Jesus said, “You are like a trusted ambassador from a friendly country. Every time you come we roll out the red carpet for you.” That image deeply touched me and my desire to do well and be approved.
Praying Your Desires
The key to talking about the relationship is to engage Jesus on the level of your deepest desires. Desires are in all of us. We were created as human beings with a built-in yearning for things like love, acceptance, freedom, security, or significance. In our original design, those needs were to be met as we walked and talked with Father in the garden in the cool of the day. Our desires were never meant to be denied or disciplined, but to be filled with Him.
The conversation Jesus most desires with you is around filling those desires. For you to see and know him as he is in heaven is the desire of his heart. Deep calls to deep, and the deep desire in him is to love you well by filling the deepest part of you.
The Questions for Jesus book and Questions for Jesus Mobile App by Tony Stoltzfus are available at the Coach22.com coaching bookstore. Tony is a pioneer in Christian coaching, author of 11 coaching books, and founder of several Christian coach training schools, as well as the creator of rewriting your story from Heaven’s Perspective , The Calling Journey leadership timeline and other great resources.