We all struggle with the question of when it’s appropriate to ask for things. We know that mature believers don’t pester God with requests. We know that God intends for us to be the answer to our prayers, and to the prayers of others. We know we’re meant to be content and to keep our desires in submission to the Spirit. We know that God is our “Savior, not our Santa.” And yet the Second Testament still asserts that we should pray (Matthew 6.6-8; Hebrews 4.6) and that prayer should include asking God for help (Luke 13.11; John 14.13-14; 1 John 5.14-15).

At what point can our concerns become acceptable requests to God?

Right away. And without interruption. If it matters to you, it matters to God, but I humbly recommend you place those requests within the right order.

The danger of asking for things in prayer is that we do it too soon, without any of the framework that scripture intends to govern our relationship with God. When we do this—jump straight to the asking without recognizing the One to whom we’re praying, or what he’s already accomplished, or what he might want to accomplish in and with and through us—we let “greed get in the way of grace.”

Do you really need greater financial stability? Maybe not in comparison to the thousands of people starving all over the world. But if you’re scared about money, it’s no use berating yourself for being afraid. Just pray. Ask God for help. He may calm you down. He may help you find a new job that increases your compensation. He may send someone knocking at your door with an unexpected inheritance. Or he may firmly tell you to get over yourself. But how will you know until you bring it to him in prayer?

We’re afraid to pray, for fear that God will not, or maybe even cannot, honor our requests. But faith is godly imagination, and if you can imagine a cursory way in which God can respond favorably to your noble request, then you must also imagine that God can out-imagine even your best case scenario.