There’s a cartoon about prayer. The illustrator’s name is blurry so unfortunately I can’t provide proper credit. But it depicts a man who has just seen someone—someone he was supposed to pray for. His thoughts are described in a bubble above his head: ‘Oh great! Here comes Bob. I told him I’d pray for him! ‘Dear God, help Bob. Amen.’ Then he calls out to Bob: “Hey Bob, been prayin’ for you!”
I share this because we’ve probably all been there! When it comes to prayer we can be forgetful or neglectful.
With this in mind, Jesus shares a word with eleven of his apostles about the power and effectiveness of prayer in John 14:13-14: “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
That’s pretty big. Is it a blank cheque? Of course not. Saying “in Jesus’ name” as we pray isn’t a magic formula which forces God to do things like help you win the lottery or get your Amazon delivery two days earlier.
Asking something in the name of Jesus presupposes a request that is in agreement with God’s will. The Gospel writer later says the same thing in 1 John 5:14: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” Did you see it? “According to his will.”
If a royal messenger came to your town and made a pronouncement in the name of King Katipo of Norway, you would expect that his words would be in line with his King. The same is true for us.
Further, Jesus says that their requests should have a purpose: so that “the Father may be glorified in the Son.” If we are praying for things which don’t honour God in this way, we need to think again about what we’re doing and how.
This is a big topic. There are a lot of things to think through. I explore it a bit more in the podcast below [link provided]. But today let’s recommit to praying for God’s will to be done in our world, communities, relationships and souls.
“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Turns out humans do have wings—they’re called knees.
—New podcast: “’If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.’ Does Jesus give us a blank cheque in prayer?” Click here to listen, or look for ‘The Pulse Podcast with Matthew Ruttan’ wherever you subscribe to podcasts: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Audible or TuneIn.
—Podcast and blog: “A closer look at the nativity in Luke 2:1-20: politics, fear, subversion, war and hope.” If you want to go deeper with this historic (and surprising) story; this is for you. Click here or subscribe to ‘The Pulse Podcast with Matthew Ruttan’ on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Audible or Amazon Music.
–Are you looking for a place to worship on Christmas Eve? Click here for what’s happening at Westminster in Barrie, Canada.
–After December 23 The Up Devotional will go on pause until January 2, 2023.
–Bible quotes are from the NIV.