One of the hangups we sometimes have with prayer is how audaciously lavish Jesus’ promises seem to be about it. They seem to be utterly unrealistic when compared to our daily experience, but there they are:
- “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:14).
- “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).
- “Whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you” (John 15:16).
However, if we read these verses in context we understand that these promises assume a certain condition on the part of the person praying. The person who is given these kinds of promises of answered prayer is the person who is in business with God.
Sometimes we read these promises and immediately think of a genie in a bottle, available to give us a few wishes for whatever our heart desires. But Jesus is speaking to his disciples in these verses. They are promises for disciples, meaning those who are “in business” with Jesus.
These are people who aren’t just “sinners saved by grace,” on their way to heaven someday. They are actively joining in with Jesus’ work right now. They are those who are obeying Jesus’ commands, loving him and one another, abiding in him and his words. These are people who have completely re-oriented their lives around Jesus.
Those people can have whatever they ask for in prayer, because their prayers will be focused on the work they are doing with Jesus in the kingdom. They are in business with God, so why wouldn’t God give them whatever resources they need for the work? You could even think of them as business expenses. When you’re in business with God, you can “expense” everything in prayer!
So here are a few thoughts on prayer and being in business with God that I hope will serve to deepen your life with God:
- Be in business w God. Dallas Willard’s definition of prayer is simply “talking with God about what we are doing together.” God isn’t your genie in a bottle, he’s the king of the universe! So get into business with him. Seek to be involved in what he’s doing. And he is actively doing things around you every day. Jesus is busy! Get in on it.
- Presume on his goodness. If you’re seeking first the kingdom (re-orienting your whole life around God and his business), then presume that he wants to give you everything you need for life and godliness. If we as broken, sinful humans know how to give good gifts to our kids, don’t we think God knows how to do this as well? Look at Jesus on the cross. Why would we assume God is disappointed with us or out to get us? Presume on his goodness when you come to him in prayer.
- Ask for what you need. If you are in business with God, and presuming that he is good and wants to provide for every need you have for mission, then prayer is simply asking for what you want. While prayer does sometimes change our perspective on things, it also actually works, and makes a difference, and so we do ask for what we need instead of simply asking for the grace to endure what we don’t like. We ask God to change things, to provide, to save, to heal.
We ask boldly and in faith, because he is a good Father and we are his kids in the family business. Why would he not give us everything we need?