He Loves Me!
This devotional is a series of excerpts from Wayne Jacobsen's life changing book, He Loves Me! Download a PDF of this book by clicking the link below.
Day 54: Whatever You Ask
Jesus teaching about prayer seemed to be incredibly simple: Ask for whatever they wish and be assured that the Father will give it to you.
It only gets complicated when our experience with prayer falls short of this ideal. Why would he tantalize us with such outlandish promises only to leave us disappointed in so many of the things we ask?
It's not so difficult to understand why he would ignore our more selfish requests. Even his disciples had to learn that the power of prayer was not for their selfish agendas. Instead of calling down fire from heaven as James and John had asked for; Jesus taught them that such ideas came from the wrong place. And when they asked him to grant them seats on his right and left in heaven; he told them they weren't his to give and that in his Father's house there is no place for anyone to set themselves over anyone else.
Jesus never intended prayer to be the way we manipulate God to do what we think is best. If you look carefully at Jesus' simple statements about prayer you will see that they are set in the midst of us participating in what God is doing. While we are invited to make any request of God we like, the prayers that move God's hand are those that grow out of our trust in who he is and what he is doing.
I wonder what my life would be like now if God had given me half the things for which I've asked him. I know I would have been giddy with delight in the short-term, but I would have had no idea of the hurt my selfish requests would have caused. And how would I have come to know him as my loving Father if I treated him like my genie in a bottle?
It's far more difficult to understand why our prayers for other people in pain and misery go unanswered. Was Peter responding in any way less than love when he forbid Jesus to go to Jerusalem to face his executioners? I think not. Yet his entreaty was met with the harshest rebuke, as Satan's words to keep Jesus from his mission.
Peter didn't understand God's higher purpose in the cross Jesus would suffer. For God to have answered his prayer he would have aborted the very act that would save Peter from himself. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men" (Matt. 16:23) Because Peter didn't understand that his concern simply gave voice to Satan's attempt to discourage Jesus in his obedience to his Father.
It was a "save me" prayer, rising more out of fear than God's love and like most "save me" prayers, they usually resist God's purpose rather than serve it.