If you knew you could have whatever you asked for, what would you ask for?
What do you want? And what are you doing about what you want? If you know what you want, I’ve got good news for you today.
John 14:13-14 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.
Well there you go. You’ve got the one who says He has all authority in heaven and on earth telling you, “I will do whatever you ask me.”
Does Jesus really mean WHATEVER?
Is He serious about us asking for ANYTHING?
“All of Jesus’ teaching on prayer in the Gospels can be summarized with one word: ask. His greatest concern is that our failure or reluctance to ask keeps us distant from God. But that is not the only reason he tells us to ask anything. God wants to give us good gifts. He loves to give.” Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life
If we’re going to get what I believe God wants to teach us today, we’re going to need to get comfortable with feeling some tension. Here’s how I want to articulate this tension:
Jesus really wants us to ask Him for anything AND He wants to shape the kinds of requests we ask of Him.
So he tells us to ask for whatever or for anything, but He does qualify it in at least a couple of ways. He tells us to ask IN HIS NAME and to ask the kind of thing that will bring GLORY TO THE FATHER.
“Praying in the name of Jesus means wanting what God wants, aligning our wills with his will, our words with his word, and our personal preferences with his eternal and universal purposes. It also speaks of family privilege. To ask in the name of Jesus is to approach the Father in the company of his own dear Son.” Pete Greig, How to Pray
Jesus has given us access to the Father. And His constant encouragement to His followers is to ASK.
Do you have a daily practice of making requests to your Heavenly Father?
Journal. Notes app or some other app where you can write things out. Gratitude. Intercession. Asks/Requests.
James 4:2-3 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
What do you do to get what you want?
Me, maybe not you: I try to control – things and people. I try to go earn it or accomplish it. I can try to manipulate processes.
We can fight to get what we want or we can ask God for what we want.
Why do we quarrel and fight with each other? Because we either see each other as being able to give us what we want or we see each other standing in the way of what we want.
What are you willing to do to get what you want? What if you don’t have to power up over someone else? And what if you don’t have to take every situation into your own hands and control it towards some outcome you desire. And what if you don’t have to manipulate people and systems to see your desires come to fruition? What if you simply have to ask and keep asking God to do what you desire?
To get what we want, we can fight against people in the weakness of our flesh or we can fight through praying, in the power of the Spirit.
So for some of us, our issue is we don’t ask God. But then James tells us the other issue:
Some of us don’t receive what we ask because we ask with purely selfish motives.
Jesus wants to respond to our prayers in a way that God gets glory.
1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Whatever you do, including prayer, do it all for the glory of God.
“Accordingly, I believe the most adequate description of prayer is simply, ‘Talking to God about what we are doing together.’ That immediately focuses the activity where we are but at the same time drives the egotism out of it. Requests will naturally be made in the course of this conversational walk. Prayer is a matter of explicitly sharing with God my concerns about what he too is concerned about in my life. And of course he is concerned about my concerns and, in particular, that my concerns should coincide with his. This is our walk together. Out of it I pray.” Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy
Prayer is meant to be relational, not simply transactional.
Let’s look at how Jesus combines the relational component with the idea of asking.
John 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Remain, abide, dwell with Jesus. Get His words living inside of you. Then…ask WHATEVER YOU WISH…and it will be done for you.
So what should we be asking for? Anything and Everything.
“Don’t be afraid that you will ask for the wrong thing. Of course you will!” Tim Keller, Prayer
Your heavenly Father delights in being asked. You do not have to be afraid of Him. You do not have to be afraid to ask Him. My children ask me for things all the time. And I love to be asked. But I don’t give them everything they ask for – not because I don’t love them, but because I do love them.
We ask God for anything and we ask boldly. But we don’t finish with, “My will be done.” We must ask for what we want but genuinely end our prayers with, “Your will be done.”
Mark 14:35-36 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Jesus did not hold back his requests, but He did not demand his requests. He surrendered His requests.
Do not hold back your requests, but do not demand your requests; surrender your requests.
We’re going to give a few minutes to do exactly what Jesus invited us to do:
• Enter into a relationship with Jesus
• Start asking your Heavenly Father for what you want.
• Stop asking with purely selfish motives.
• Genuinely ask God for your desires and genuinely ask that His will be done.
Join us this Wednesday, 7pm, at 414 Brannan St. We’re going to worship together and pray. We’ll be asking for what we desire to see God do so that He gets glory and so that He brings transformation to people in this neighborhood, throughout our city, and around the Bay Area.
What do you want?
What do you really want?
-An end to gun violence in our nation?
-Clarity about your vocation
-Reconciliation with someone
-A movement of God in our church that leads to so much transformation
-To know and follow Jesus