John 14:14: “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” A powerful scripture, wouldn’t you agree? Sadly, for far too many believers, it’s one of the most misunderstood scriptures found in the written pages of God’s Holy Word. Though it’s true Jesus said if we ask for anything in His name, it will be given to us, many fail to realize this powerful declaration is only true if it lines up with God’s perfect will for our lives. In John 15:7-8, Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Could you imagine if God granted each of us our wildest wishes in life—great wealth, cars, boats, extended vacations on tropical islands, the person of our dreams, victory for our favorite sports teams, and so on—simply because we asked for them in Jesus’ name? I chose the word “grant” because so many prayer requests today more resemble children’s wish lists at Christmastime than anything else. Sadly, many Christ followers tend to view God as some genie in a bottle, instead of the sovereign Creator of the universe. Let me start by saying God is not a subservient invisible genie, lying in wait, ready to grant every last wish your heart desires. What good could possibly come from it?
Think about it; if your child asked for a loaded shotgun so he could go outside and play with his friends, would you allow such an outrageous request? Of course not! As your child’s guardian, it would be foolish to even consider something so dangerous. Despite how many times he pleaded with you to finally give in, the answer would remain unchanged, right? Why then do we, as believers, expect God to grant our every wish—like a bunch of spoiled kids in a candy store wanting this and that—simply because we ask for it all in Jesus’ name?
In this “name it and claim it” society in which we live, many out there have become so blinded to the truth, that they even instruct their followers never to pray “thy will be done”. According to them, it displays a watered down faith in God, which ultimately limits His power in their lives. In essence, whether knowingly or unknowingly, they end up praying, “My will be done”, instead of “Thy will.” Talk about arrogance! Talk about delusion! Talk about self-centeredness!
If praying, “Thy will be done” displays a lack of faith in any way, wouldn’t that make Jesus guilty of being weak Himself? After all, that was our Savior’s prayer shortly before being crucified for our benefit 2,000 years ago. The Bible says Jesus could have had legions of angels (each legion representing 6,000 angels) come to His immediate rescue. But knowing what still needed to be done for us fallen sinners, He humbly prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (John 22:42). Talk about selflessness! Talk about definiteness of purpose! Talk about ultimate sacrifice! Talk about love! Thank you, JESUS!
I often wonder if those teaching such nonsense realize what would happen to their churches if God decided to acquiesce to their self-absorbed prayer requests, and bless each member with millions of dollars. No doubt many changes would occur as a result; few of them good, I might add. Perhaps 10 percent would continue walking God’s Righteous path. But what about the vast majority? Suddenly debt free, many would take extended vacations, not only geographically, but also from their Heavenly Father. Having so much money at their disposal might even serve to turn part time habits into full blown addictions. Much like the prodigal son, many would fall into great sin and wickedness as a result of being “blessed” with financial riches. The ultimate casualty would be that the church would eventually collapse.
Even some past lottery winners were later quoted as saying winning was more of a curse than a blessing in the end, because of the nightmarish consequences that followed. Not only were they pursued by everyone within a ten-mile radius, many fell into various deep addictions. Some were even jailed for illegal practices, including tax evasion. Even more tragic, some were ultimately driven to suicide.
Does this mean God is against providing financial blessings for His children? Of course not. According to Romans 8:28, He works all things for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. That said, I believe He even allows certain sports teams to win on occasion when it serves a greater purpose.
As an example of this, we need look no further than Super Bowl XXXIV, played January 30, 2000, between the St. Louis Rams and the Tennessee Titans. It was a great game that came down to the very last play. I personally believe God intervened that day, but certainly not because He liked one team better than the other. God isn’t concerned with trivial things like the final score of a particular sporting contest, unless it serves a greater need. What He is concerned with, however, is the heart of man. Which leads me to why I believe He delivered victory into the hands of the St. Louis Rams that day—so Kurt Warner would be named the game’s MVP.
The first thing Warner said when interviewed after the game was, “Thank you, Jesus!” As the world celebrated, God used that moment to broadcast the name of Jesus to an international audience, using Kurt Warner as His willing mouthpiece. But it was all done for His glory, not Kurt Warner’s.
In the final analysis, I believe those who draw the closest to God in prayer are those who realize we do not pray in order to change God, but that He would change us. Perfect in all ways, God doesn’t need changing. Harnessing a “Thy will be done” mind-set in advance, heart-set rather, helps set the stage for deeper intimacy with God. It also makes you appear more like a grateful believer in His presence rather than a spoiled brat.
Having created you, your Heavenly Father really does know what is best for you at all times. He is your Protector, not destroyer! That said, who knows, perhaps the things you’ve been praying for all this time, and have yet to receive, are viewed by God as loaded shotguns, which would do more harm if you ever received them than good? Have you ever really thought about that before? Truth is, God still answers prayer. But sometimes the answer is no.
About the Author: The author of the books "The Pelican Trees" and "Coffee In Manila" is a practicing Christian living in Florida, who wishes to remain anonymous for the time being. The Pelican Trees is his fifth book, but his first time using the pen name, "A Grateful Believer". He chose this name for three reasons: 1) as a dedicated Christian, he really is a grateful believer, 2) to bring The Pelican Trees story to life, so to speak (You'll understand once you've finished reading it), and 3) he believes the person responsible for writing any particular book is nowhere near as important as the message contained within its pages. Visit http://www.ThePelicanTrees.com to learn more.