Sunday, May 8, 2016

Getting All We Ask For From God

What does it mean to ask in Jesus’ name? John 16:23-24 shows Jesus telling his disciples that whatever they ask in his name, the Father will give them. We tend to apply this to ourselves as well, but we all can think of situations where we asked for something in prayer and ended with “in Jesus name I pray” and we didn’t get what we asked for. So, either that isn’t what this passage is talking about, or we’re applying it wrong.

It might be helpful to follow the analogy a little closer. Instead of jumping to this being a God who is omnipotent, so he could give us anything, let’s follow the relationship as it is presented. This is the father/son relationship. So, how would this work with the fathers and sons we know? It occurs to me that I have some things that belong to me, but they are still at my parents’ house. One of those things is a bicycle. Suppose you went to my father and asked, “Can I have that bicycle?”

My father would respond, “No, it isn’t mine to give you.”

Now, suppose told you, “I have a bicycle that you can have. You just need to go ask my father for it.”

You would go to my father and say, “Your son told me that I could have that bicycle if I came to pick it up.”

My father would probably call me and say, “There’s a guy here saying you gave him this bicycle.” But once I had confirmed your claim, he would give it to you and probably help you load it into your vehicle.

There are a couple of things to notice here. One, asking in my name can only give you what is in my ability to give you. Two, asking in my name can only give you what is in my father’s ability to give you.

We often think about what God can do, but we fail to realize that there are things that he can’t do. Consider James 4:3. How can what Jesus said and what James said both be true? Well, because God can’t give us something that serves no purpose other than fulfill our lusts. Literally, it isn’t in his power. This isn’t something that Jesus would give us. This isn’t something that the Father would give us. It goes against who he is, because it would be harmful to us. Worse, if we go to the Father and say, “Your Son told us we could have this,” we’re lying.

So, if asking in Jesus’ name is going to do us any good, we need to be asking for things that are in the nature of God to provide. Unfortunately, we don’t always know what those things are, but we can get a better understanding of that through Bible study. And there are some things that God would give us, if we wanted them for the right reason, but he won’t give us if we don’t.