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.