Thursday, April 7, 2011

Week # 13 John 16:24 "Just Ask God"

"Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete."

Back in the day when I was a new believer, I would read verses like this and think that Jesus was offering me a blank check. All I had to do was fill in the amount with whatever heartfelt wish, material gain, relationship hope or personal goal I wanted Him to give me. Then...voila, the wish would be granted.

Oh, if only life were like that. Jesus, the Fairy Godmother who died on the cross so I could wear a beautiful gown and go to the ball.

Sounds ridiculous, right?

Yes! So, what is this verse actually saying to me? What is Jesus talking about when He said I must ask in His name?

I do know that anything done "in the name" of someone or something else must line up with what that person or institution stands for. When a police officer says he serves in the name of the law, his work must be in line with the law that he enforces. One cannot do something illegally in the name of the law. It would be contradictory.

So, to pray in the name of Jesus means that my prayers must not contradict the person, character and will of God. Hmmm..that doesn't sound so simple.

In fact, it sounds rather intimidating. I'm almost afraid to pray lest I ask in the wrong way. But, that's why it helps me to see prayer as a process, not as a holy state that we should have already achieved.

My prayers don't always line up with the will of God. There are times when I am hurt, angry and confused. At those times, I will find myself yelling at God, accusing Him of not caring or ignoring me. At other times, I hear myself asking God to make my life easy, and to be that fairy godmother I wish for.

Okay, so during times like those, I probably wasn't asking in the name of Jesus. But, the important thing I see in John 16:24 is that Jesus is simply asking me to ask anyway.

When I am lonely, depressed, sick or scared, I know I can go to my heavenly Father and talk to Him about my concerns, complain to Him about my problems and whine at Him about just about anything.

One of the miracles of prayer is that God uses our prayers to help us grow, change and heal. My prayers might begin as whining and crying, but eventually they will turn to thanksgiving and praise. (Last time I checked, thanksgiving and praise were definitely in line with God's character and will!) No, the "eventually" won't happen overnight. That process might take weeks, months, years. But it does happen.

God lets us whine, complain and vent our frustrations. He knows we need to do that for a while. He also knows that our prayers won't stay like that forever. However unflattering some of our prayers might be, it will never make our prayers not welcomed by God.

So, when I read this verse now, I don't expect the cosmic fairy who will grant me all my wishes. I also don't feel intimidated or unworthy because my prayers might not line up with God's will.

I simply read an invitation. It's an invitation to come to God and ask. I don't ever want to be afraid to ask. I am still His child who needs to ask, because I can't provide for myself or solve the problem on my own.

My Daddy takes joy in the fact that I will ask. And, I know that when I ask, my joy will be complete, because eventually, those heartfelt prayers will become exactly what my heavenly Daddy will want to hear.

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