You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father – John 14:13
I’ve been teaching the book of John at our weekly Bible study, so I thought I’d be a good teacher and read ahead. I was doing great until John 14:13 stopped me. It was one of those times when I’m thinking, I’ve read this passage a hundred times. I’ve even got it underlined in my Bible. So why does it jump off the page now?
Like most people, I’ve often read this passage and thought, Jesus is telling us to pray in His name and He’ll give us whatever we want. How cool is that? But the other morning something else reached out and squeezed my theology. Instead of focusing on what we can get from our prayers, Jesus is teaching us to pray so the answers allow the Son to give glory to the Father. In other words, how many prayers would never leave our lips if we filtered our every word through this idea: How can the Son bring glory to the Father by answering this prayer? Far fewer, I’m sure.
I wonder how often I pray in the “name of Jesus” but to the glory of Jim? Let’s say I pray a good, religious prayer like this before I preach this Sunday: “Lord, bless Your Word this morning. Anoint me so that Your Word is glorified and people hear and are changed. Bless me to be a vessel of your goodness. Amen.”
That’s a nice prayer. However, I also know that in the back of my mind I’m praying like this because I don’t want to appear like I’m a failure in the eyes of the congregation. I want to appear successful, sincere and spiritual. To be honest, a prayer like that is equal parts a true desire to give all glory to God and a hope that I don’t look too foolish in the eyes of everyone watching. Did I say “equal parts?” How about 75% not looking foolish and 25% wanting God to show up and get some praise?
How many things would we stop asking for because we know our prayers are really seeking our convenience, not God’s glory? Perhaps we pray for more money, but we don’t tithe on the income we have now. We have a new car with new car payments, satellite TV with three hundred channels and Smartphone, but we can’t invest in God’s work. And now we have the audacity to ask Him for more money. If God isn’t getting the glory for the money you have now, why should He give you more?
We ask for peace in the home. But the husband treats his wife with disrespect and bullies her into doing things his way, while the wife goes behind his back to get the things she’s sure she needs, and by example she teaches her daughter to do the same. We don’t really want peace; we want everything our way.
We pray for a house because we’re tired of renting. But we haven’t taken care of the home we’re renting. The grass is two feet high, the dog ruined the carpet and the stove hasn’t been cleaned in three years. But we want God to bless us with a new home. Why? So we can mess it up, too?
God is a good of a manager; too good to throw nice blessings at bad investors. I think many of our prayers are never answered because God knows we’d use His resources to glorify ourselves while giving lip service to Him. So I ask once again, for whose benefit are we praying?
Perhaps so few of our prayers are answered is because God knows His glory is not in the answer. This idea is making me examine the motivations of my heart and rearranging the way I present my requests to God. I still know I can ask for anything in Jesus name and He will do it, but only if it brings glory to the Father.