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“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:14)

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ME: Lord. You there?

GOD: Can you hold for a second?

ME: Uh, okay.

GOD: Sorry about that. I had somebody on the other line. What can I do for you?

ME: Well, I had a question.

GOD: Shoot.

ME: You know where Jesus said we could ask anything in his name and he’d do it?

GOD: Oh, yeah. That.

ME: I was kind of wondering about it. No offense, but I don’t think it’s been working all that well for me.

GOD: It could be that you just don’t understand it.

ME: Well, Jesus did say I could ask for anything, right?

GOD: That’s what he said.

ME: And he would do it?

GOD: Yep.

ME: With all due respect, sir, I’ve asked for a lot of things over the years that didn’t pull off.

GOD: There could be any number of problems here. First of all, anything doesn’t really mean anything.

ME: Anything doesn’t mean anything?

GOD: Well, it means something, just not anything.

ME: I don’t quite follow you.

GOD: For the anything to mean something you have to ask anything according to my will; otherwise I don’t hear you. It’s kind of like a mute button. Only the requests that line up with what I want to do in the first place get through the switchboard. Think of it as a divine firewall.

ME: So when Jesus says I can ask for anything—

GOD: He doesn’t actually mean anything.

ME: Oh.

GOD: That’d be a bit dangerous, don’t you think? Everybody putting in their crazy requests. This person praying for rain; that person asking for sunshine. Those people praying for their team to win the Superbowl; these folks asking me to bring victory to the other team. A lose/lose for me. No matter what I do, somebody hates me. Besides, I’m no religious vending machine. I’m God, you know. I only do what I want no matter what.

ME: So if I ask for something and don’t get it . . .

GOD: It’s because you didn’t ask for the right thing.

ME: So when Jesus says anything he means the right thing.

GOD: I don’t want to put words in my Son’s mouth, but that’s my take on it anyway.

ME: I thought you guys worked together.

GOD: Most of the time, though we have had our differences. Remember Gethsemane? We’re still working through that one.

ME: But I’m pretty sure that at least some of the things I asked for did line up with your will. Why didn’t I receive them?

GOD: Probably because you asked with the wrong motives. As James wrote—normally I don’t like James; he’s kind of a yutz. But sometimes he gets it right. Anyway, he wrote: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives.” In other words, if you ask for even the right thing selfishly you can forget it. Remember: I know everybody’s motives. You wouldn’t believe how many requests I can throw out just on this thing alone.

ME: I bet.

GOD: I would say upwards to 97% of all prayer requests are disqualified due to selfish motives. And that doesn’t count the doubt factor. Even if you ask for the right thing with the right motives, if you have even the tiniest bit of doubt about getting it, you get zilch.

ME: But if I’m not sure if I’m asking for the right thing or that my motives are pure, wouldn’t that cause me to doubt a little bit, even if I did believe that you could do what I asked?

GOD: That’s a real possibility.

ME: Let me get this straight. Jesus says if I ask for anything in his name he will do it. But he doesn’t really mean anything, only things that are what you want in the first place. And he also doesn’t mean he will actually do whatever I ask unless I’m asking the right thing with the right motives—

GOD: And without doubting. Don’t forget that part.

ME: Sounds complicated.

GOD: Tell me about it. Metaphysics ain’t easy, even for a professional like me.

ME: And if I get all that right—the right request, the right motives, and the right faith—I will get what I ask?

GOD: Not necessarily. I might say no.

ME: Huh?

GOD: I might deny your request anyway.

ME: But . . .

GOD: Like I heard somewhere: God always answers, but sometimes the answer is no.

ME: That’s in the Bible?

GOD: I’m not sure. I’ll have to check.

ME: So your son’s promise to do what I ask is essentially meaningless?

GOD: I wouldn’t put it that way. Let’s just call it an overstatement. He’s never been much for the fine print.

ME: I see.

GOD: You’re going to have to trust me on this.

ME: Thanks. I’ll work on that.

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2 Responses

  1. Good stuff!

  2. Maybe the “anything” is any thing that really is anything. Maybe what we think is something, God considers nothing.

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