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A Praying Life, Chapter 15

Chapter 15: "What Do We Do With Jesus' Extravagant Promises About Prayer?" | Week of June 17, 2018

“You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” – James 4:2–3 ESV


Six times in John 14-16, which covers the night of the Last Supper, Jesus tells his disciples to ask, saying he will answer those prayers (John 14:13-14; John 15:7; John 15:16; John 16:23-24). As Paul Miller observes in this week's chapter, this tends to make us uncomfortable. What do we do with these promises anyway?

Helpfully, James (Jesus' brother and a leader in the early church) helps us understand the two most common errors we make. You can see the quote at the top of this post, and essentially, it says that we either make the mistake of not asking, or we make the mistake of asking selfishly. It puts some boundaries on "Ask whatever you wish." So yes, this is great information to take to heart... but we are still left with the question, "Why didn't Jesus bring balance to that statement if that is what he meant?" (Page 117)

We tend to wobble, leaning either into not asking or into asking selfishly, but the solution seems to be continuing to ask as we try to get to know Jesus better. "His greatest concern is that our failure or reluctance to ask keep is distant from God. But that is not he only reason he tells us to ask anything. God wants to give us good gifts. He loves to give." (Page 118)


Where do you tend to err? Not asking, or asking selfishly? What do you think it would look like to practice asking boldly this week? Miller says "One of the best way s to learn how to abide [in Jesus] is to ask anything." Think about how you would approach praying confidently this week, trusting that through the Holy Spirit your prayers will continue to be shaped and aligned to God's will for you in Jesus. (Romans 8:26)   


This week, ask. Ask big. Ask bold. Ask frequently. The only qualification is that you also ask Jesus to steer your heart toward abiding in him as you do, so that you can learn to pray how he prayed.   


Our Tinian Mission Team will be leaving in mid-July for two weeks of relationship-building. In his grace, God's provided some amazing relationships in Tinian that have allowed us to start having gospel conversations there. Pray for God to supply the financial needs of the team, as they will be engaging in some small projects that the Teen Center on Tinian needs help with, and also for fruitful conversations about Jesus to be had while there. 


This week, read the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3 with your kids. This story provides a great example of asking but not doing so selfishly as they face the decision about how to respond to the king's command to worship his idol. Ask your kids how those three youth trusted God, and pray that you can learn to trust God that way as a family, asking him confidently and trusting he will do what's best.

Tags : prayer, devotional