If someone were to stop you right now and ask “What is the one thing you ask?”, what would you say? Do you need an organized work space? Do you need wisdom or courage? Do you ask for peace or purpose? Do you ask for a friend or a sense of community? Do you ask for healing or strength? Maybe you are asking for a break? What is the one thing you ask?
We can ask God anything in prayer. Throughout the Bible, you find all kinds of prayers. Moses prays for deliverance. Hannah prays for a son. Jabez prays for strength. Daniel prays for forgiveness. Lepers pray for healing. Paul prays for people to grow in the fullness of God.
In the Psalms we find many of David’s prayers. There is one in particular where he tells us what is most important to him: “One thing have I asked of the Lord…that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.” (Ps 27:4)
As I looked more closely at what David was saying though, it became more profound to me. David was not away on holiday looking at a beautiful view when he talked about gazing at the beauty of the Lord. He was not looking out at the horizon as the sun was setting. He was not in the presence of angels or a heavenly vision. He tells us that his enemies are surrounding him. David talks about gazing at the beauty of God in times of trouble when he is under threat.
For him, to gaze at the beauty of the Lord seems to move beyond what the eye can see. Frederick Buechner observed, “We can’t see light itself. We can see only what light lights up…When Jesus says that he is the Light of the World maybe something like that is part of what he is saying."
To gaze at the beauty of the Lord may not be as much about seeing as being with God. David is experiencing God’s goodness and enjoying him. The beauty is there, no matter what our circumstances. Albert Edward Day explained it this way, “What makes life splendid is the constant awareness of God. What transforms the spirit into his likeness is intimate fellowship with Him…conscious communion with his greatness, love, and holiness.”
Whatever you ask, may it be splendid.