I was on my way home from running errands. As I approached our neighborhood, my cell phone rang. The call was from my tween-aged daughter. The conversation went like this:
“Hi Mom. It’s Kennedy. Where are you?”
“Hey baby! I ran some errands and will be home in just a few minutes. What’s up?”
“Well, I wanted to see if you and I could go shopping for a new bathing suit this afternoon, and – don’t say no – I’d like to get a feather in my hair. Can we, Mom?”
Oh. No. She. Didn’t!
“Honey, we are several weeks away from swim season. I’m not sure that today is a good day for all of this. And by the way, you’re free to share your heart with me and tell me your desires, but you do not get to tell me what I can and can’t say no to. I’m pulling into the neighborhood now and will see you in a minute.”
Wow. I was a bit taken back by the bold expectations of my daughter.
Don’t say ‘no’? I thought. Really? C’mon girl. I’m the parent. You’re the child. Get a grip.
As I considered her angle – the way she positioned her request – my heart leapt with conviction. How often do I approach God with a request and stubbornly tell Him not to tell me no?
Jesus told his disciples that they could ask for anything. He even said that when we ask in His name that what we ask for would be given to us. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it (John 14:11-14).
Let’s consider the context here. When Jesus said this, it wasn’t an open invitation for the will of man to reign. It was an invitation for man to participate in the will of God through prayer. It was about us asking for things that will bring glory to God the Father. It’s all about the will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven – not the whim of man.
Then what about the “Name-it-and-claim-it” theology? Is God obligated to answer our prayers in the way we want Him to? No. He’s Not. Does God want you to have a million-dollar home and drive a Hummer? Does God want you to be healed of that diagnoses, disease or physical challenge? I don’t know. What I do know is this: God is a good God. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. They are steadfast forever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness (Psalm 111:7-8).
If we think that God can’t say no to us, then we’ve put ourselves on the throne and not God. Prayer is not about getting God to do what we want him to do – it is about releasing God’s will on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). It doesn’t change His mind and He’s not a genie in a bottle whose wish is our command. God is God.
I love my daughter. I mean… I really, really, really love my daughter. But just because she asks me for something doesn’t mean that I’m going to grant her request. I love her too much for that. God is our heavenly Father. Our parent. He wants mature, wise children. Not spoiled children. He loves us too much for that.
He even told his own son “no” for the greater good. While in the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, on the night he was betrayed, Jesus was distraught to the point of sweating blood. Crying out to God, He knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done’ (Luke 22:41-42, ESV).
God said no to Jesus because it wasn’t His will… and because God said no, we can experience grace, forgiveness, peace and salvation. In order for God to be glorified in his life, Jesus had to submit to the will of the Father. In order for God to be glorified in our lives, we, too, must submit to the will of the Father – and His will is always what’s best for us.
This is a toughy. No doubt. But God knows more than we know and His ways are not like our ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts(Isaiah 55:9). So no matter what we pray for or desire, we can trust that whether His answer is “No,” or “Yes,” His ways are always best.
Dear Lord, You are my Father and I know that you have a plan for me. Please bind me to Your will and teach me to desire Your heart above all else. In Jesus’s name, amen.
FOR YOUR RESPONSE: What are your thoughts on prayer? I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below.
Thanks for doing life with me!