We were at the church potluck. The welcoming sign over the dessert table said “Help yourself”. My friend Pat opened up her very large Yeti Cooler (I have no idea why she had brought that along) and promptly began placing all the cookies, pies and cakes into it. She then pulled out the handle and ran off with her stash. I rushed after Pat and I said “Excuse me Pat, what in the world are you doing?”. Pat said, “But the sign told me to help myself”.
Pat had read the sign, but not the situation. The refreshments were not meant to be Pat’s own private bonanza. The delights were free, but there were 40 people in line behind Pat. She had read the sign, but was that what it truly meant? In John 14: 13, Jesus says “Whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” Sounds like the dessert sign, “Help yourself”, doesn’t it?
God is not offended when He hears children pray “Susie lost her kitten, help her find it”; “Let me have fun at my birthday party”; “Help my boo-boo to heal fast”. They are the prayers of small children. God invites us in I Peter 5: 7 to “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares about you.” An even bigger invitation is in Philippians 4: 6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
So, shouldn’t this be a blank check to the easy life? Hmmm. What if we begin to compare Scripture with Scripture? Jesus says in John 14: 13 “And whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Was Pat with the Yeti cooler of desserts actually bringing glory to God? Further clarification can be found in I John 5: 13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God [which represents all that Jesus Christ is and does], so that you will know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have eternal life. 14 This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us.” According to His will? Am I to pray according to His will?
Let’s add what Jesus said in John 15: 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown away like a branch and dries up; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” This kind of prayer life has to do with living a holy life that beautifully displays the glory of God. The fruit of such a life is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” The type of prayer God loves best has nothing to do with grabbing my personal stash of selfish desires for my Yeti cooler. These are grown up prayers in which I bow my will to God and so that I can bear the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” How is your prayer life? Is it grown up or are you running off with the cooler?