Just Ask

Just Ask

Key Texts: John 16:23b-24

Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

It’s an amazing promise that Jesus made to His disciples.

Does it mean that we can ask God for literally “whatever” we desire, ask for it in Jesus’ name, and “poof” like magic we receive it? No, it can’t mean that.

If that were true it would mean that God is just a cosmic vending machine, and that our desires rule.

So what does it mean; this promise that in asking we will receive and our joy will be made complete?

I think it means that with the promised coming of the Holy Spirit we receive the greatest gift that God could bestow upon us while we wait for Christ’s return.

It means that we have access to wisdom that is so far beyond our own, strength so much greater than our own, patience, virtue, hope, and so many other things – all because of the indwelling Spirit – which we could never manufacture on our own.

In light of that, asking for this or that takes on new meaning.

God knows what we need.  We often only know what we want.  There’s a big difference.

This doesn’t easily comfort those who are struggling with questions left unanswered for now; those dealing with devastating loss; those wrestling with addiction and other temptations.

Notice I say they are not “easily” comforted by a statement of assurance of God’s presence in the Holy Spirit.

But I believe, at the deepest level, such faith does bring comfort.

God is no vending machine, and there is much we can’t control – not the least of which is God.

Still, God compassionately, lovingly, patiently, hears our pleas for help and does respond.

God responds with a peace that passes all understanding.

It may not come instantly, but I believe it does come, according to God’s divine economy and timing.

So – go ahead – just ask.  Ask for God’s Spirit to guide, comfort, strengthen, and give you peace.

I believe that is one prayer God always answers.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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