God in the Lamp
John 14:14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
I often read this verse with an inherent defect that prevents me from truly understanding it. The gravity of self continually draws my gaze to me, away from God. Then, when I read that Jesus will do anything I ask in his name, I automatically start thinking of all the stuff I want.
I can ask for whatever I want and God says He will give it to me if I just ask right… Praying, In Jesus name, becomes a magic phrase that I sprinkle on every prayer, hoping it will mysteriously bend God to my will. With every request I toss up to heaven, I utter those enchanted words, hoping they will stick. God becomes my genie in the lamp.
This is why it is so profoundly important to be aware of my own defects. I have read this verse a hundred times, not understanding why I did not understand it. I was blind to the fact that, in turning my gaze to myself, I was doing the very opposite of what Jesus instructed. When I remain blind to my inherent addiction to me, I am unable to see that the greatest barrier between God and me is simply, me. I am my own greatest life problem. If I do not understand this, I will not understand Jesus or what He is trying to say here.
What then, is Jesus saying? He is insisting that I am to believe in him, keeping my eyes on him, denying self and following him with such intensity that I become completely aligned with his will. Then, when I pray with his name, I pray in his will.
The very idea of praying in his name suggests that I am praying with his will backing my prayer. As a physician, a nurse will only order a test with my name on it if he or she knows it to be my will. Thus, it is only in turning from my own will to pursue Christ’s will that I can come to pray in his name and authority.
James, brother of Jesus, must have encountered those who tried to use Jesus as a wishing well. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions (James 4:3). He was simply pointing out what we all know experientially. When we ask for a million dollars, God is under no obligation to comply. Jesus did not come to fulfill the desires of our flesh nature. He came to kill them so that we might be saved from ourselves. If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23).
Does this mean that we are unable to take our concerns and problems to God? Absolutely not. We are to take every care to God (1 Peter 5:7). Jesus, on the night before his crucifixion, revealed how we do this. In his agony, Christ whispered this honest prayer: Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done (Luke 22:42).
Jesus brought his petition to the father but then asked for God’s will to be done above all. He did not pretend he had no will but realized it was possibly in conflict with the father’s. He then prayed for God’s will and submitted to it. This is what it means to pray, in Jesus name.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.