God Doesn’t Give Snakes When You Ask for Fish

by Andy Wood on October 22, 2010

in Ability, Executing Your Plan, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Increase

He who is powerless before God is powerless before men” (Watchman Nee). 

On September 16, 2001, an amazing phenomenon took place in churches across the United States.  Civilians came out of their foxholes in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11.

And they were talking about God.

On that day, in churches everywhere, they came looking for answers.

Within a matter of weeks, however, things had settled down to business as usual.  Not long after, The Washington Times had a story that predicted that within a decade Americans would “invent” a religion of their own that met their needs.  The article said that when they revisited the places that had once nourished them, they didn’t find what they were looking for.

Ouch.

To be fair, maybe they were looking for a place that let them have a god of their own making.  And the fact that people may try to invent a religion of their own doesn’t bother me – we’ve been doing that since Adam and Eve were escorted out of the Garden.

What bothers me was that when they came to our house – the church – looking for answers, evidently something was missing.

What if they came to our house looking for answers, and we were just as confused as they were?

What if they came looking for life, and we were just as dead?

What if they came looking for supernatural power – some evidence that God is still on the throne, still works miracles, and still has the power to change lives – and all they found was platitudes, programs, and politics?

The good news is, some of our greatest teaching opportunities take place when we recognize that something is missing.  Remember when the disciples couldn’t cast a demon out of a boy, and they asked Jesus why? That was a teachable moment.

Another one took place after Jesus had sent them out on their first mission excursion.  They had come back excited about people saved, healed, and delivered.  Yet still, they recognized something was missing.  They saw the difference between how Jesus prayed and how they did.  They remembered what he said – “The harvest is so great, and the workers are so few.  So pray…”

They got it.  And they came to him with a simple request: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). It’s the greatest investment you can make in eternity.

Dependence

The first thing Jesus did in response to their request is to give them an example of what to say.  We call it the Model Prayer; it has five parts:  praise, submission, petition, confession, and protection.  It’s remarkable for its simplicity and directness.  Jesus never intended it to be a vain repetition, but a guide for the things to talk to God about.

  • Approach Him as Father, but a Father whose name is holy.
  • Approach Him recognizing that His kingdom is where our citizenship is, but that as long as we have breath on this earth, we will live in the tension between his kingdom and the world’s.
  • Approach Him with needs, big and small.
  • Approach Him with your guilt and conflicts, humbly releasing both into his hands.
  • Approach Him with your vulnerability to temptation, and ask for his help.

In each of these things, you are asking God to do what only God can do.  You are declaring again your need for, and dependence on, Him.  You are reminding yourself that He’s God and you’re not.

You lose power in your walk with God when you make the Christian life a “do it yourself” project.  All the power you ever need is available to you – but it isn’t your power!

Persistence

Jesus dropped a startling truth on the guys by telling them a story:

Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You would shout up to him, “A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit and I’ve nothing to give him to eat.” He would call down from his bedroom, “Please don’t ask me to get up. The door is locked for the night and we are all in bed. I just can’t help you this time.”  But I’ll tell you this – though he won’t do it as a friend, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you everything you want-just because of your persistence (Luke 11:5-8, LB).

Jesus says that in prayer, persistence is even more powerful than friendship or relationship.  With all of the Bible’s emphasis on a relationship with God, this is an amazing statement.  God will respond to your persistence in asking, seeking, and knocking even more than He responds to us out of love.

The word translated “persistence” literally means “shameless.”  The idea is that we’re not put to shame if God doesn’t respond to our request the first time.  We don’t fret about bothering God, we just keep asking.  If that doesn’t get a response, we keep on seeking.  If that doesn’t get a response, we keep on knocking.

The reason some of us lose spiritual power is that we become discouraged.  We ask and don’t get an answer, so we give up.  But your Heavenly Father is waiting for some shameless asking, seeking, and knocking!

Perspective

“You fathers – if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him”(Luke 11:11-13, NLT).

Attitude matters!  Jesus said we must approach God as one who knows how to give good gifts to his children.

The enemy tries to sell you the lie that God is a Father who gives us snakes when we ask for fish.  But God not only responds to our requests as requests ‑ he responds to them by personally getting involved in our lives!  The Holy Spirit is God!  And He is God’s personal answer to our needs, petitions, requests, and dreams.

Every time you ask in faith for a simple request, God, your Heavenly Father, responds by giving Himself first.  And when He gives me the Holy Spirit as the answer, one of three things will happen:  (1) You  receive the supernatural answer You’re asking for; (2) you receive “exceeding abundantly” more, or (3) you receive something in His presence that makes the original request meaningless.

Every child instinctively knows this.  Have you noticed that when they ask a parent to do something, what they really want most often is the parent, not the request?

When my twins were small, it wasn’t the glass of water they wanted after the lights were out.  It wasn’t the stories I sometimes told.  It was me.  They trusted me.  They wanted my presence.

One early morning a few years ago, the Lord literally gave me a message in a dream – something that had never happened to me before.  Here’s what He said:

“My people are powerless because deep down inside, they think that if they ask for a fish, I’m going to give them a snake.”

Maybe it’s disappointment.  Maybe it’s fear.  Maybe it’s guilt, or maybe it’s anger.  But something has led you to question whether you can trust your Father.

God’s answer to you is, yes, you can.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

LindyWise October 23, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Dear Brother: Because everytime the Lord gives me a fish the enemy TELLS me it’s a snake…I believe him…and I walk away from the blessing. I have just finished a 3 day fast on this topic…Lord, why can’t I tell if it’s your will or not? I need a word…Please Lord…and like the sun breaking through the cloud, I find your web site today…notice the date…and my answer is right here in one line. So simple and so profound. The Lord says…If you ask me for a fish, I am going to give you a fish not a snake. I used to know this as a baby Christian. I don’t know when or how I started believing the lie…but I can tell you this trick has cost me just about everything. But no more. Next time the Lord answers my prayer…(which is always…He is so faithful) I will accept the blessing and say Praise You Lord, and Thank you for the fish.

Thank you for being a vessel and being obedient to his call for you to blog your wisdom.

Your sister, Lindy

Vivian July 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I woke up with the Spirit of God reminding me to cast not away therefore my confidence (in God) which hath great recompence of reward (Hebrews 10:35). So I was spending some time today praying about the string of disappointments and delayed promises I have had over the last 30 or so years. They had indeed shaken my heart-level confidence in God, although I know in my head that God’s promises are always true. Your article was a good reminder to me to just hold on and keep believing God.He is the Faithful and True,
By the way you write extremely well. I hope you share your wisdom by writing books.Thanks for the encouraging blog.

Andy Wood July 8, 2012 at 7:45 am

Thanks, Vivian. And you’re right – all His promises are “yes” and “amen” and they aren’t reserved for a class of super-saints.

I so appreciate the encouragement. And on that book thing… well… keep watching. 🙂

R J King June 28, 2014 at 3:07 am

This is bullshit. He’s as fake as santa claus

R J King June 28, 2014 at 3:13 am

What kind of father gives you a snake when you ask for a fish, I approached him exactly as you said, for years and years and years, my request was reasonable and honorable, my daily bread, no problem for a man of his abilities. He’s got to be fake, I should have known better than to have believed jews.

jim September 11, 2015 at 3:22 pm

hi brother
why is it that the problem always starts with us. When you go to church what kind of ‘good news’ you hear: legalistic, sin labelling messages. i give you an example – 1. money – many christians & stupid pastors will say that MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL. that is wrong the correct statement is: LOVE of money is the root of all evil.
2 SELf – again the label is SELF IS SIN – that we should deny ourselves. really? are we doormats, robots? we are persons, individuals & SOULS LIVING BEINGS. even christ mentioned the word I, the parable of the stewards said ‘I’ added more skills etc.
see how christianity brainwash people – when you ask REALISTIC question, stupid pastors will give the hurt, needy ‘a snake’ when they ask for fish because they just sit down & beg for money & sit on their cushy seats. your article is the same. your article is another ‘give a snake’ answer when they ask for a fish. next time be more specific & give KNOWLEDGE understanding & teaching not condemning, judging trying to look good for jesus

Andy Wood September 11, 2015 at 4:04 pm

Hi Jim,
Thanks for commenting, though it appears you were more frustrated with your experiences with pastors and churches in the past than with what I wrote. in response to your specific points…
1. The problem always starts with us because we are a sinful, broken race. But “we” means all of us – no one is an exception, and we’re all in need of (and many are grateful recipients of) God’s grace.
2. I know exactly what you mean about the misapplication of 1 Timothy 6:10, and you’re right – it’s love of money, not the money itself.
3. It wasn’t me, it was Jesus who said that if you wanted to come after him, you must deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow him (Luke 9:23). However, the English word “self” is multi-dimensional. Jesus’ command wasn’t to deny the essence of who you are – someone that God loves completely – but our inward bent toward self-justification, self-righteousness, self-will, and self-centeredness.
4. None of us are doormats or robots – we have value and choice, given to us by a loving heavenly Father – even the choices that can result in self-destruction.
5. Nowhere in this article and nowhere in 40-plus years of ministry has any needy human asked me for anything that I replied with a request for money.
6. I’m sorry you were disappointed in the article, but I can assure you that its intent was to communicate to the reader that he or she can trust in the heart and goodness of their Heavenly Father by asking boldly and persistently for their needs to be met. And as far as the specificity of knowledge, I’m happy to address any specific question I can.
7. No once in this article did I condemn anybody.
8. If you have decided to presume on my motives as “trying to look good for Jesus” then you are the one judging, not me. When it comes to “looking good for Jesus” the only good looks I have are what He put there, and He and I both know that.

Thanks again for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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