“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7
This well known passage in Scripture has at times mystified me. When Christ tells us we can ask for “whatever”, it leaves the door wide open. Can we really ask for anything and get it?
Yes and no. These words of Jesus are legit, and we can’t try to make them say something they don’t. So it naturally motivates us to ask: what does He mean when He says “whatever you wish”?
Fortunately, we have some clarification on that. The Bible is a truly amazing work, as every part of it supports every other part of it with seamless and perfect continuity. We have to look to other passages which quote Christ saying essentially the same thing, for comparison:
“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 he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:7-11
Here Jesus states the same: ask, and it will be given. But He also sheds some light on what God will give when asked. Specifically? Good things. Only good things. Only those things which are for our ultimate good.
Just as a father gives only what is good to child whom he loves, so does our heavenly Father. A father will not give his child something merely because the child asked for it. He will give what is good for the child, even if the request was amiss. Anyone with children has seen this played out in interactions with them. The kids often don’t know what is good (although they think they know) and will ask for what they believe is in their best interest. A wise parent does not ignore the child merely because the request is misdirected; he will provide something appropriate in its place.
And so it is with God. He hears all of our requests to Him, day and night, and misses not one. In His kind omniscience, He will give us what He knows is better than what we say we want.
This interaction with God can become challenging, however. For example, when we ask God for something we are certain is good, such as healing from a sickness or the ending of a painful trial, and He answers with something we don’t want, is God failing us? If we trust Him, then we have to believe He is not failing us in any way.
The problem lies primarily in this: we are temporal, and He is eternal. If we had His perspective on life, seeing all things, beginning and ending, at once, we would better understand answers which don’t align with our requests. In fact, we’d never ask the wrong things from Him.
The key is being ever aware that we are abiding in Him. Abiding in Christ puts us in a frame of mind where our thoughts are aligning with His thoughts, as it speaks about in 1 Corinthians 2: 10-15. And what is “abiding”? The Greek word used here simply means to “stay” or “remain”. In other words, don’t go away. The come and go, fair-weather relationship many people have with the Lord creates a fracture in the communication. If people won’t stick around, they aren’t going to experience God’s answers aligning with their requests, because they will consistently be asking the wrong things.
As one matures in his or her relationship with God, that faithful servant will see more and more of their prayers to God answered promptly, and with amazing accuracy.