John 16:23 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”
In the verse above we have a wonderful, almost incomprehensible promise from Jesus. What a wide- open door we have to ask God for things. And this isn’t the only place such a promise is given to us. Other examples include Matthew 21:22: “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith;” Mark 11:24: Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have receivedit, and it will be yours; John 14:13 “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son;” and Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
So, what is one to do with such incredible promises? When we go to God in prayer, and He’s told us to ask for anything we want, what should we ask for? A hint to this answer is given in almost every place that these promises are given. We are to ask, but we are to ask “in Jesus’ name” or “in faith,” i.e., with trust in God, or “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Yes, He wants us to ask, but He wants us to ask for things that are truly good things, things that bring glory to Him and that are consistent with who He is. Do we have any such examples?
Well, there are many, but one of the best is found in the account in 1 Kings 3. It is here that the new king of Israel, Solomon, is given essentially the same open door to ask God for anything. Here, we are told that “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, ‘Ask! What shall I give you?’” And what does Solomon ask for? His reply to the Lord was as follows: “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
Here Solomon, when given the opportunity to ask for anything in all the world, asks for understanding, for wisdom, so that he could glorify God with his life. And God’s response? He was greatly pleased. We are told, “The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. Then God said to him: ‘Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. So if you walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”
So, wouldn’t it be wise for each one of us to follow this example? What do we pray about? Like Solomon, God has given us an open door to ask for anything. Like Solomon, do we love God enough to want, more than anything, to live a life that glorifies Him? Or, like so many, when faced with such a promise, do we ask for the things Solomon was wise enough to NOT ask for, e.g., long life, riches, that sort of thing. Surely, we can ask God for anything, but the nature of our requests will reveal much about our own hearts. Do our desires please Him, or not? Taking stock of the things we pray about will help us to quickly see the answer to that question. May God help us to glorify Him with our requests in response to the magnificent opportunities He has given us to ask.