Today we are looking at the importance of what we are asking in his name.
Have you ever asked God for something, but didn’t get it or didn’t receive the answer you were looking for? How do we cope with the death of a loved one after asking for God to heal them? The Bible says we should keep asking, and we will get it; and we can ask anything, and God will do it. But what if what I want is different than what my wife wants?
While those statements are in the Bible, it is important to read the entire context and look at the words Jesus used in these teachings. Let’s first look at Matthew 7:7-11: “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Again in John 14:14, Jesus himself says “ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” Anything!!! That gives me hope when I pray, “God, please let the Browns win one game next season!”
These verses certainly lead me to believe that if I ask God for $100 million and a private golf course and for my kids to never get sick then those things will happen, right? To answer this question, we need to read the entire passage and dig a little deeper.
Prior to inviting us to ask for anything we can imagine, Jesus says in John 14:12-13, ”I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”
The first requirement is that we believe Jesus is who he said he is and who the Bible says he is – the Son of God, the atonement for our sins, and the only way to eternal life in heaven.
Next, he says that he will do the things we ask, in order to bring glory to God. Does my desire to have millions of dollars bring glory to God? It could, but it is an entirely selfish desire.
Matthew 7:9-11 goes on, “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”
It seems obvious that if our children are hungry, we feed them real food instead of telling them to eat dirt. God gives us the things that he knows are best for us. I don’t see any immediate downside to being a millionaire, but it would probably change some of the life choices I make and it would certainly decrease my dependence on God to provide my daily bread.
Then, what about James 4? Doesn’t it say that I don’t have millions because I haven’t asked for millions? Take a closer look. “You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure (verses 2-3).
The tone of that passage changed quickly and forced me to look inward. Yes, I am jealous of what other people have. When I pray, am I asking God to provide what is best for me, or am I asking for what I think I want? Why am I asking for it? What are my motives, personal pleasure or God’s glory?
The words of 1 John 5:14-15 provide the instruction and the encouragement we can all use at this point: “And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”
When you pray, consider
- Am I asking at all?
- How am I asking?
- Why am I asking?
- What am I asking?
Commit to praying for others, for yourself, and for the things that please God over the next week. If you don’t know where to begin, or how, try this:
Our Father in heaven (connect with God relationally), may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come, may your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven (pray for God’s agenda first). Give us today the food we need (declare dependence on God), and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us (Get your heart right with God and others). And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one (believe in God’s truth over the lies of the enemy).
This post was written by Ryan Cook. Ryan is an executive director for two Chick-fil-A restaurants in Toledo, so if you see him at church and think he looks familiar, that’s where you know him from. He is married with a son and a daughter. Follow him on Twitter @CookfilA.
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