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Whatever we ask?
- Jacob Ninan
Haven't you heard preachers speaking emphatically on asking God for whatever we want, and telling us to persevere in prayer till we get it? They usually quote "All things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive" (Mt.21:22). If we are honest we have to say that we don't get all that we ask for. But it's actually good that our Heavenly Father doesn't give us everything we ask for, because sometimes that would be disastrous for us! He has got more sense. We understand even as earthly parents how foolish it would be to give our children whatever they ask for!
The verse quoted above talks about asking, 'believing'. We can't say that all that we ask, we ask believing. We also don't always know what to ask for. Believing is not just about knowing He is able to do what we ask for, but also an assurance that it is His will to do it. It's also written, "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (Jn.14:13). Do all things we ask for qualify for glorifying the Father? If we ask for things that will only please us, or they are going to hurt us in the long run or make us miss His best for us, isn't it good that He doesn't give them to us? If we are adamant in our prayer, He may finally give in to us to teach us a lesson, and we aren't going to like it (Ps.106:15).
"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you" (Jn.15:7). This makes it a little clearer. We can see that if we are abiding in Him we will be in tune with Him, and we are likely to ask for things that are on His heart for us. Then we will be asking believing and, of course, He will be glad to give us what we ask for.
"You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you" (v.6). It will be clearer now to see what kind of things He wants us to ask, and how He is interested in giving them to us. He is not talking at all about things we might fancy, but things concerning what He has chosen us to accomplish through us.
"This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1Jn.5:14). In other words, it is only when we ask for things according to His will that we can have confidence that we will receive them.
When we don't understand this, we get disappointed when we ask and don't receive. And then some preachers blame us for lack of faith or sin. But some make a mistake about faith as if it is something we have to manufacture and then get into a bargaining position with God!
God wants us to be honest (and to read the Bible carefully). He also wants us to be those with mature understanding (1Co.14:20). Why don't we ask Him for whatever we want, with the understanding that we know only imperfectly and are willing to be content with whatever He decides?