Whatever You Ask

Under the kindness of God, over the past several years, we have been receiving from God whatever we ask in prayer. We asked God to give us a building, and He did. We asked that we would fill it both with His presence, and with God-glorifying worship, and He said yes. We asked for seven new households, and God has brought them to us. We’ve asked for safety for babies and mothers, health for the sick, jobs, houses, restorations from sin, successful surgeries, and many more things, and God has abundantly answered our prayers. How in the world do we explain the fact that as a congregation, we have been getting whatever we have asked for? We aren’t Jesus, and Jesus isn’t here personally to give us what we ask. But our prayers are still being answered! What’s going on?

John 15-16 provides a link between this sermon and what we’ve been studying in Acts. Acts is the story of what happens in the church after Jesus leaves and the Spirit comes, and in John 16, Jesus is talking about the same thing before it happens. “I’m about to leave,” Jesus says, “and the Spirit will come.” Shockingly, Jesus claims that it will be better when He goes. How could it possibly be better if Jesus goes?

When Jesus is here on earth, it’s true that He can ask God, and receive whatever He asks, even raising dead people back to life. But Jesus can’t be everywhere at once. He can’t run all over Palestine meeting everyone’s wishes and giving them what they want. Jesus on earth is limited, and Jesus’ people have limited access to him.

And so Jesus explains that His ascension to heaven will fix both problems. When He ascends, He will send the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, to be personally present with each and every Christian. Unlimited, immediate access to God; God is present with you.

And further, when Jesus ascends, He is crowned with glory and honor, and seated at God’s right hand, which is a place of honor, but that honor includes unimaginable power. Whatever the King can do, the right-hand man has the authority to do. And that man is Jesus. Jesus on earth entails limited resources and limited access. Jesus in heaven means unlimited resources and unlimited access. Here’s what has happened: Jesus has been given all authority, and you’ve been given the rights to access that authority through baptism, and the means to access it through the Holy Spirit. That’s the theology behind the glorious, unbelievable promise in John 16:23 that “Whatever you ask in my name, I will give you.”

Now there are conditions to that promise, but fundamentally, this truth should be the bedrock foundation of your prayer life: Whatever you ask of God, in Jesus’ name, He will give you. You should think more about that truth than about any qualification or question your mind might bring up. Your job right now is to stop your heart from saying, “Yeah, but…” When God’s Word talks about unanswered prayer, then we can talk about it, but when God makes promises, our job is to stop doubting and believe. The Bible doesn’t give equal time to promises and problems, and neither should we. This is the truth that underlies prayer that God wants you to think about: Ask, and you will receive.

Answered prayer proclaims a God who hears, a God who is powerful enough to give us anything we ask, and a God who loves us enough in Christ to give it to us. Answered prayer speaks volumes about you: because prayer has conditions, answered prayer shows that those conditions have been met. In that way, answered prayer means that you are being faithful to God, that you are His child, and that you have eternal life. Answered prayer also speaks to you, and tells you to ask for more from God. It commands you to trust in the promises of Jesus Christ. Answered prayer tells us that Jesus Christ has indeed ascended to the right hand of God and given us His Holy Spirit. He presents our requests to God, and whatever Jesus asks for, God gives it to Him. Be encouraged! Be joyful! And keep asking.

Posted on Wednesday, November 26, 2014 by CJ Bowen