By Allen White
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
For anybody who has actually ever prayed, this verse might seem a little far-fetched. We asked, but Jesus didn’t do it. What went wrong?
We believe that Jesus’ words are true. We just haven’t always found them to be true for us. So, we either just ignore passages like this, or we live in the frustration of believing that we’ve done something wrong.
The key to understanding this passage are these three words: “in my name.” Eugene Peterson in The Message puts it this way, “whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I'll do it” (John 14:13). Jesus will do anything that agrees with Who He is and What He is doing. If we ask anything outside of that, Jesus will not do it.
Who is Jesus? He is the Savior of the world. Jesus came to serve rather than to be served. His only ambition is to fulfill the will of the Father (John 5:19). Jesus is humble beyond comparison (Philippians 2:5-11).
If we ask for things in keeping with developing and affirming Christ’s character, then the answer is more likely “Yes.” If our prayers involve our quest for fulfillment with power, possessions or prestige, then the answer is usually “No.” Why would Jesus do something for us that would only make us more prideful? That’s not in keeping with His character.
What is Jesus doing? Good question. He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus came to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). His desire is to reconcile sinful people with His Father (2 Corinthians 5:18).
Sometimes we get into the trap of asking God to bless what we’re doing. This is more like a child demanding to get his way. Every good idea is not a God idea. Our frustration comes when our will is not aligned with God’s will. “But, doesn’t God want me to be happy?” That’s not necessarily on the top of His list.
What we learned from Henry Blackaby in Experiencing God is that God is always at work around us. God wants to involve us in what He is already doing. How is God working around us? Well, if we can’t see His work, then we should ask Him. Pay attention to the things that are bearing fruit in our lives.
What do you need Jesus to do in your life? Does it line up with Jesus’ character and His mission? Everything in our lives is important to God. Prayer is not just accessing the “God compartment” when the other compartments of our lives are failing.
Over 2000 years ago, Jesus came to start a revolution in the hearts of people. He came to wipe away their sins and to put them on-mission to build His Kingdom. Jesus won’t waste His time or ours answering prayers that lead us away from our God-given mission on this earth. What has God put you here to do? If you’re not sure, ask God and He will point the way.
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