Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Asking and Receiving

Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” —John 16:23-24

Wow, what a promise, I think.  Taken by itself it seems Jesus was telling His disciples that if they want some thing or some life event, all they have to do is ask in Jesus name and they will get it. Wow, again. Like your parents telling you to say the “magic word” (which is ‘please’) and you will get what you asked for.  So all we have to do is say “In Jesus Name” and voila – God will grant our request. Tell me, how is that working out for you? Oh, it doesn’t always work? So why not if that is what the Bible says? Is it possible that the Bible is wrong? Or is it possible that I did something wrong? So many questions.

You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” – James 4:2-3

Oh, that must be it. The reason God does not answer with a “yes” is because I asked with the wrong motive. I wanted to satisfy some earthly desire that I have. Like the Janis Joplin lyric that goes “Oh, Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz, oh Lord won’t you get me a colored TV!” (In today’s vernacular it would be a 4k 70 in TV)  Or is there something else. Is it possible that my material wealth and prosperity is not a real concern of God’s.  This whole prayer thing can be very confusing and faith challenging.  Is it too simple to say that God doesn’t gives us what we want but what we need? If my toddler asked for a sharp knife and said please would I be compelled to give him the knife, even though I knew it was not the best thing for him? In fact it was bring him harm? So complicated.

So what do we know? Well, we know that we are suppose to seek the Father and ask Him for help.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

We don’t know if God will intervene on our behalf or not. What we do know is that we are to seek Him – to turn our face toward the heavens – and speak to God. And when we do, we are promised the Peace of God which will guard or strengthen our hearts and thoughts in the face of the need for which we are asking help. Does God heal? I believe He does. Does God provide – He most certainly does. Is God faithful -  absolutely.  Will God always do what we ask Him to do? No. I can think of some biblical examples of people who understood that things might not go their way. The three men and the fiery furnace – “even if He does not save us we will not bend our knees to another god”. Job – “tho He slay me – yet will I serve Him” Jesus – “remove this cup, but not my will but your will (Father) be done”.  I have read about God responding to the cries of His people. So it is not that God cannot be influenced by our prayers.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” – James 5:16

If prayer did not matter then why would the Bible encourage us to pray? So it must matter. But I think the sum of it is this. Pray and trust God – even if things don’t go your way – trust God. Most if not all of the disciples lives came to an unpleasant end. If God used them in such a mighty way, why would He allow that to happen to them? My conclusion – there is much to this life and the next that I do not fully understand – but, in spite of that uncertainty, I must obey what I do understand. It is all about living by faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

God will not prove Himself by answering your every prayer the way you want it answered. And our trust in Him should not be a function of His granting us our desires – every time. If that is the requirement for following God, you will most certainly fall away from the faith.  There is something deeper. Some deeper truth that surpasses the circumstances of this life on earth. Some eternal truth – supernatural – that is at play. The three men were saved from the fire – Job had all he had list restored – but Jesus went to the cross. God was glorified in each case. Are you willing to allow God to be glorified in your life – no matter what? Or do you demand that God fix your problems and save you from the dark – unpleasant things in this life – if He is really God?  I hope I have given you pause to rethink prayer and how you respond to this life.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayerdistributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.” – Romans 12:9-13

Let your light shine.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

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