There’s an art to asking questions. Good questions. Genuine and open questions. Searching and curious questions. Learning to ask fine questions is not only a helpful skill but an important aspect of discipleship.
We learn to ask questions from Jesus, for he was the master questioner. According to Martin Copenhaver, the Bible records three hundred and seven of them! And no doubt he asked many more that went unrecorded. So Jesus loved asking questions. All sorts of them.
One of my favourite questions of Jesus is found at the end of Mark 10. I like it for its simplicity. It’s not clever or provocative. Rather, it’s a genuine question that teases out need. His question was: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’
Jesus is leaving Jericho. He’s finished his business there and is now on his way. But when a blind man named Bartimaeus calls out to him for help, Jesus makes time for him. Rather than hurrying off, he gives his attention to this gentleman. It’s interesting that Jesus doesn’t go to the man, but asks for him to be brought to him, so as the man is led to Jesus, he has time to watch him and take note of his condition. Jesus would have seen that he was blind. And yet Jesus still asks him: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ So while Jesus sees the man’s need, he still wants him to tell him about it, to name it, and to ask for help. This isn’t Jesus being cruel or unkind. Far from it, he is getting the man to be clear about the reality of his situation and his desire for Jesus’ help.
It’s the same today, especially as we come before Christ in prayer. As we approach him, so he sees us. He sees our life. Our condition. Our needs. Our concerns. As we pray our prayers of supplication (praying for ourselves) so he wants us to speak out our prayer, and to name our need. He asks us: ‘what do you want me to do for you?’
And then Jesus, in his kindness, answers the man’s request, and his eyes are opened, and he sees. It’s hard to imagine what this must have been like for the man. He probably laughed and cried and hugged Jesus – full of joy and delight and wonder. He could see! He could see!! All because Jesus asked him a question. A simple question. A good question.
Jesus continues to ask good questions of people today. Questions about all sorts of things. But one of the most basic is this one: ‘what do you want me to do for you?’ It’s a prayer question. A supplication question. A question relating to our basic needs that he wants to hear about from us.
So as Jesus asks you this question today, be honest and real in your answer. Like the blind man of Jericho, be specific. And name just one. The most telling need. Bring it before Christ. And then see what he will do.