A BREATH-TAKING PROMISE
“‘If you ask the Father anything in My name, he will give it to you.’ This is a breath-taking promise which Jesus has made to us. It puts tremendous power into our human hands.
It may be that we do not fully appreciate the extent of that power. Perhaps we are not fully using this power over God which He Himself has given us. It even may be that, deep down in our hearts, we do not truly believe that anything is ours for the asking.
DO WE FULLY BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF PRAYER?
If we seem to have a discouraging lack of success with our prayers of petition, it is possible that we are not really asking in the name of Jesus. To ask in His name is much more than a matter of words. It means to approach the Father in union with Christ and in His spirit.
ARE WE IN CHRIST?
God can recognise His Son in us only if we have love for God, as witnessed basically by our freedom from grave sin, by our oneness with Christ in the bond of grace. Further, we come to God in the spirit of Christ only if we are committed to the doing of God’s will. Our commitment may be still imperfect and probably is. However, the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane, ‘Not My will but Thine be done,’ must find some answering echo in our own heart. Otherwise we are incapable of asking ‘in His name.’
LOVE FOR NEIGHBOUR
Further, since love for neighbour is so essential an element in our Christlikeness, we hardly can present God with a request which can be granted only at the expense of someone else. We are not asking in Christ’s name if the gain we seek must mean another’s loss.
WE PRAY AND PRAY – AND NOTHING HAPPENS?
Let us assume that when we offer our petitions to God we actually do so in the name of Jesus. That is, we do love God and try to be fully acceptant of His will. We do love our neighbour and desire his greatest good. Why is it, then, that with such dispositions we so often seem to appeal to God in vain? We pray and pray, but nothing happens.
The customary explanation is that God, Who is infinitely good, wants for us only what will promote our welfare. He knows all things and knows, better than we, the ultimate effect of this or that favour which we ask of Him. If the result will be harmful to us in the long run, then God certainly will not grant what we ask. Our prayer will not be wasted. God will compensate us in some other way. But God would be untrue to Himself if He gave us what would hurt us.
OUR PRAYERS ARE NEVER WASTED
All of this is perfectly true and undoubtedly does account for some of our apparent failures in prayer of petition. However, there may be another and less obvious reason for some of our disappointments in prayer. It may be simply that we do not pray with sufficient faith.
DO WE PRAY WITH SUFFICIENT FAITH?
Perhaps when we turn to God in some necessity or emergency we are not really very hopeful. We feel that we have nothing to lose by appealing to God but we expect that in the end we probably will have to work out the solution for ourselves.
‘MIGHT AS WELL PRAY AS WELL, JUST IN CASE…’
This state of mind is ruinous to prayer of petition. The one disposition above all others which we must bring to prayer is a strong, strong faith in God’s ability and d e s i r e to help us. We have only to page through the Gospels to see what emphasis Jesus puts upon faith. Time and again He assures a petitioner, ‘Your faith has saved you,’ or, ‘Your faith has made you whole.’
IN THE NAME OF YOUR SON, OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
Is there some favour which you very much want from God? Are you in the state of grace? Is God’s will your norm of action, so far as you can make it so? To the best of your knowledge will the favour you seek bring no hurt or loss to another? Are you also as sure as humanly possible that the granting of the favour will not be in the least prejudicial to your own spiritual welfare?
Very well, then. Present your petition to God ‘in the name of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Ask bravely, ask confidently, God will not mind even if you scold Him a bit. (‘God, Your Son promised this. Aren’t You going to back Him up?’) Then be ready, perhaps much sooner than you think, to offer your prayer of thanksgiving.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966