“Your needs are absolutely guaranteed by the most stringent of warranties, in the plainest, truest words: knock; seek; ask. But you must read the fine print. ‘Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.’ That’s the catch.” — Annie Dillard

Isaiah 29:13-16 (esp. 13)
John 16:23-24

Do you remember the fantasy-inducing childhood question? “If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?” Everyone would always say, “More wishes,” or “infinite wishes” until the questioners grew wise to this and axed that option.

You’d toss out, “world peace”, as to not appear selfish. Then you’d try to come up with something that engaged all your desires in two more wishes. Money was a big one, because enough of it would provide you plenty more wishes.

But the game felt so flawed and limited. Why can’t we have infinite wishes?

Jesus says, “You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it” (John 14:14).

Anything? What!? Jackpot! So Jesus is a genie? We can present requests, whatever we want, and we get it. We don’t even have that annoying caveat of “no additional requests.” Then he stuffs himself back into his lamp, and leaves us to our own devices.

So what’s this “in my name” piece? We don’t want to have any qualifications popping up on us like the genie question. Genie Jesus appears too perfect, much like a Snickers™ with no fat or sugar.

Those three words might just change everything. Everything else Jesus says comes from another place; why wouldn’t this, also? As techno master Moby says, “No human being could ever come up with this.” Jesus throws out lines like, “Pray for those who persecute you,” “the world will hate you,” and “turn the other cheek.”

This Jesus might not be the genie I’d been looking for since I saw “Aladdin”.  He says crazy stuff that doesn’t jive with what I want, his teachings don’t leave when I want to do my own thing, and he doesn’t really want to cater to my every whim; he’s got his own agenda, and that agenda involved a cross.

So prayers ask for some reconsideration. Prayer may not be about the pray-er and his or her fantasies. It might mean aligning oneself with Jesus, in an “in my name” way. Maybe if we begin to understand him, we might ask differently. We might ask for things that glorify Jesus’ father.

Go ahead and ebay your lamp. He just won’t stay in there. Jesus is neither a genie nor the a-volitional deity we’d imagined. He’s real, wild, unpredictable, and he’s taking us far beyond our petty wishes.

Do we ask for things in his name?  What does that mean, anyway?
Why do we ask him for anything?
What might he want us to request?  What might be his motives? 


© Revolworks 2006