Repeat x 4
And again with the prayer thing: This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks! ~John 16:23,24
This marks the fourth time that Jesus has mentioned this extravagant prayer promise. Obviously he is really eager to get a point across. And he does this in the midst of a surfeit of really grim news. What gives? I mean, logically, if this prayer promise is taken at face value, one would make prayers against the very things he has prophesied. “You’re going to be martyred.” “No worries Jesus, I’ll just pray and you’ll make the nastiness go away. Problem solved.”
But here, Jesus is adding a qualifier which he reinforces in the very next sentence. We are to ask for things in keeping with that which has been revealed. And, we are to ask according to his will.
Many…and I mean many, have used these various promises of prayer to justify all sorts of self-serving, self-advancing theologies. Usually it involves extracting hard-earned dollars from the faithful. It is why we can never take Scripture out of context. We must stick with it and see what it says, not only behind and before, but also if it matches the tenor of the entire body of God’s self-disclosure in the person of Christ. If something sticks out as an anomaly that feeds selfish desire, we best keep reading.
(As an aside, our church has never passed the plate. If people want to support our efforts, they can drop their gift into a humble, homely green wooden box we set out during our worship services. I believe very much in giving, and doing so generously, but we don’t beat that topic to death. And the reason we do not circles somewhat around these very passages. We ask God to provide and He does).