Qualified Prayer

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” John 16:23

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15

There’s a temptation to respond to these verses with a ‘Yes, but…’ I want to qualify these promises and I easily think of all the potential loopholes and exceptions. Even after studying the surrounding context, making sure that I understand them as much as I can, I’m left with a mixture of questions and amazement.

Whatever you ask…I will do it.

Really? Can I really believe that whatever I ask the Father in the name of Jesus, he will give me? I’m afraid to believe it. I’m afraid of being sold a bill of goods, of being disappointed. There are many things I’ve prayed for over many years that seem to be in line with God’s will. And still I haven’t seen the answers.

But what if instead of tying myself up in hermeneutical knots, overanalyzing, I look instead behind the promise to the character of the Promiser?

The God of the Universe is inviting me to ask! Just that fact should stun me. That the Creator of the cosmos actually hears me! And then he goes further and encourages me that whatever I ask for, if it is in line with his will, he will give it to me. And it’s not like Jesus was pressured to say these things. These words come tumbling out of his mouth more than three times during what’s called the Farewell Discourse. John 13-17 are the last words he spoke to his disciples and one of the things he wants to get across to them is how willing the Father is to answer prayer that aligns with his will.

So what is my problem? Why do I have such a hard time with these verses? I don’t think it’s a problem of interpretation. It’s a problem of unbelief.

I don’t fully believe in the goodness of God.

I still believe the old lie that was told to Eve and then repackaged a zillion times: God is holding out on you.

My job going forward isn’t to unravel the hermeneutical knots so I can understand why God hasn’t answered this or that long term prayer. My job is to lay my requests at the Father’s feet, trusting that he is exceedingly generous and wise, powerful and good, and he is more than willing, in his perfect timing, to grant whatever I ask in the name of Jesus.

The truth of that should be paramount in my mind and heart and encourage me to ask boldly and often.

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