Whatever You Ask in My Name


prayblogpost

Perhaps one million prayers have been offered for Joey Martin Feek in her courageous battle to overcome the cancer that is killing her body, but not her soul. I shed tears over the news that our beloved sister in Christ may be losing her battle against a ravaging disease. Her husband Rory closed out his last blog entry, When I’m Gone, with these words …

And now, here I sit beside my dying wife.

I don’t say those words lightly. As a matter-of-fact, I haven’t said them at all. But my beautiful bride has said them to me in these couple of days. Her pain and discomfort has continued to increase daily and so has the morphine to help her be comfortable. The dosage she’s needed to keep the pain away has quadrupled in the last four days.

I’d like to tell you that she’s doing great and is going to beat this thing. But I can’t.

Yesterday with tears in her eyes and mine, Joey held my hand and told me that she has been having serious talks with Jesus. She said she told him that if He’s ready to take her … she’s ready to come home.

Tens of thousands of well-wishers have showered Joey with a caring love that is supernatural. Indeed, it is a very evident fulfillment of our Lord’s command: 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35).

Bill Gaither, a family friend, stood in the bitter cold of Anderson, Indiana to light a bonfire that could be seen from Joey’s bedroom window. You can view the pictures on Rory’s blog post, Seeing the Light.

This is devastating news that is hard to process even for a mature Christian. When I accepted Christ 35 years ago it wasn’t too long before I fell away, and lived the life of a prodigal son. And it was because I didn’t see the power of God working in my life. Outwardly, nothing changed. Life continued to be a struggle. I would pray three hours a day, but none of the challenges in my life could I overcome — health, personal, career, financial — so that my spiritual life became a train wreck.

But … didn’t Jesus promise to give us whatever we asked?

John 14:13-14 … Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

Matthew 7:7-8Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

The promise of receiving every good thing is repeated throughout the New Testament — verse after verse. How, then, do one million prayers for a dying sister go unanswered? And not only for Joey, but her husband and baby girl who will be left without a precious wife and mother? This isn’t what the prosperity gospel teaches.

Joey, in a moment of anger and hurt, said … “I thought I did everything right.”

How do we make sense of it all? My pastor gave a timely sermon last Sunday. He shared the painful story of the birth of his twin sons. During his wife’s pregnancy one of the boys developed kidney problems. The doctor’s advice was to ignore the one child, but this did not sit well with the couple so they sought the opinion of a second doctor who was optimistic that he could perform surgery in the womb to correct the one child’s kidney function. After follow-up examinations the doctor concluded that the boys were too far along to attempt a medical procedure so the wife would have to carry them through until birth. Hopefully, the one boy’s kidneys would resume normal function on their own.

The second doctor asked the pastor and his wife, “Do you take drugs?”

Pastor: “I don’t understand. I mean, no.”

Doctor: “I only ask because most of my patients in your situation would be so distraught they couldn’t think.”

Pastor: “Well, we do something … we pray.”

The pastor said that he prayed harder than he had ever prayed — sometimes all night — for two healthy boys. It was an emotional roller coaster riding out the term of the pregnancy. On the due date two boys were delivered, but the one was only given minutes to live. The pastor, who was at his wife’s bedside, was told he could go down and say goodbye to the child, or the maternity nurse could bring him up to their room. The pastor held his newborn baby in his arms as the child took its final gasps of air. He thought about how hard he had prayed to God that the child be born healthy — spared the pain and suffering of a premature death.

Then … then … in an almost audible sound the pastor heard the voice of God:

HE IS HEALED.

The pastor’s son was in the arms of God where there is no sickness … no suffering … no dying. The LORD answered his prayer, and his son was healed. He was delivered by angels into the presence of Almighty God who is faithful and true … and in His presence the child lives — never to shed a tear.

If by some miracle Joey is healed, or if she goes home to be with the Lord, our prayers will have been answered. When Jesus prayed in the garden He said, thine will not mine (Luke 22:42). To mature in our faith we must understand this precept, and trust in God completely. Jesus had to die on the cross — His cup could not pass.

In context, then, we understand scripture:

1 John 5:14-15This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

Albert Barnes:

That, if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us — This is the proper and the necessary limitation in all prayer. God has not promised to grant anything that shall be contrary to his will, and it could not be right that he should do it. We ought not to wish to receive anything that should be contrary to what he judges to be best. No man could hope for good who should esteem his own wishes to be a better guide than the will of God; and it is one of the most desirable of all arrangements that the promise of any blessing to be obtained by prayer should be limited and bounded by the will of God. [1]

Credits:

1. Barnes Notes on the New Testament, Albert Barnes, London, Blackie & Son, 1884.

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2 thoughts on “Whatever You Ask in My Name

  1. 1 Corinthians 13 :12 says that now we only see God’s reality as a dim reflection in a mirror; we only understand part of the big picture. But when we go to be with him, we will see him face to face; we will understand the whole picture.

    Philippians 4:4 tells us to rejoice in the Lord always. And like wedding vows, that means for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. Rejoice in the Lord always. The verses following that tell us not to be anxious but to pray in every situation. Verse 7 concludes, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

    When God does not give us the answer to our prayers that we have asked for or expected, we need to remember to rejoice in him anyway. We may not understand why his answer isn’t what we wanted or expected, but His peace transcends our understanding (or lack of it, in this case). We can still trust him. He is God and we are not.

    When we are hurting and torn apart because it seems as if God has not answered our prayers, that’s when we need to hold on and not let go. In Revelation Jesus told the churches to hold fast to what they had, meaning their faith. Psalm 3:5 tells us to trust in the Lord with all our might, and not lean on our own understanding.

    I do not pretend to understand why the Lord would take this loving wife, mother & gifted musician. But I rejoice that the Lord, He is God. He has promised not to leave us or forsake us. Job said, “Though he slay me, I will hope in Him”. I resonate with that, particularly because the eternal life that lies beyond our earthly lives will be so glorious, there are no words to sufficiently express it. Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”.

    I too have prayed for a miracle for Joey and her family. But regardless of the outcome, whatever God’s chooses to allow, I am thankful that his ultimate answer is peace and joy in him. He is our peace. He is our joy. And it’s all because of his grace. We certainly could never do anything to earn that.

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  2. What is often overlooked by those who see another suffering is to ask God, “Lord, I am willing to follow You in everything and in every way but I have just one question for You. What are You doing with this person?” We will pray healing for what we consider God’s will to heal but we never consider asking Him what He is doing.

    Every time someone asks me to pray for their loved one, the first thing I ask the Father is, “What are you doing with that one?” It is not in a tone of defiance but an attitude that seeks to always walk in a manner that is pleasing to Him and not to myself, to find His way and not our way.

    The pastor of a church I used to attend years ago would ask me to ride with him to the hospital to visit someone who the doctors say was going to die. While on the way, this pastor would ask me if that person was going to live or die. I would turn my heart to the Lord to get His word on the matter and give God’s answer. If they were to die, God had His reasons which He would share with me so that I could tell the pastor.

    On another occasion, while serving in another church years before that one, one of the musicians requested prayer for his mother who was dying. She had just come to Christ and then was diagnosed as dying. The church began to pray and instantly, I heard from the Spirit of the Lord what He was doing. This is what He told me to pass along, “I have waited her entire life for her to finally come to Me and have decided to take her home to be with me now.” I shared this word with the pastor who then beckoned me to tell that musician. When I spoke to the musician about what I heard, he just broke down and cried. Once he was able to compose himself, he told me, “I knew this because the Lord told me but I needed to try because I did not want her to go.” The words I passed on to him actually brought him a great peace because now, God’s word to him was confirmed and the peace God intended for him, could now be received.

    I was asked to pray for another person at another time and I did as I always do, asked the Lord what He was doing. He showed me a sin in that person’s life that He had shown them but they had refused to respond to His voice. It was for this reason they were afflicted with that disease. So I asked that person asking for prayer for the other one if I could talk to her. They agreed and brought me to the woman who was sick with a disease. I told her the reason she was sick and also told her that the Lord had already spoken to her about that sin in her life and she rejected Him. Immediately she fell to the ground in brokenness and tears. The conviction of the Holy Spirit was on her and she repented immediately. Once this was done, I declared to her that her disease was gone (I could see if leave her body). She left that place, checked with the doctor and confirmed she was free of that cancer. God healed her!

    You see, we all need to get on the same “page” with God, with an attitude that we will do all He says to do. If we come to Him with ONLY our own will and what WE want without seeking what He wants for that person, we may not be ready to hear what He wants. I’ve seen this far too many times in the church. We read a few scriptures, like the ones listed in your message, and run with them but never consider to seek the One who gave those particular scriptures and see if what we are facing ‘matches’ up with that word.

    RETIREDDAY uses 1 Cor. 13:12 to explain that verse as “he” understands it. He is wrong! Read it in its entire context and you will see that Paul is using this example to speak about growing in maturity. We will not always see through a glass darkly just as we will not always walk with the mind of a child and continue to do childish things but as we grow in wisdom and understanding, our eyes will be able to see more and more of His truth and that truth is that light that illuminates our way. Paul is not speaking that we must die in this world in order to know as we are known. God builds faith in our lives precept upon precept, line upon line, one layer of truth to build upon the next layer of truth until we come to a mature man. When Jesus spoke of that faith as a mustard seed, He also said that this tiniest of seeds will grow into a large tree. So shall our faith grow from that mustard seed like faith to that great tree like faith. Many quote these verses without the context and miss the message completely.

    My last example is that verse that states, “delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you your heart’s desire”. If we take that phrase, “delight yourself in the Lord” and do not learn what this means to ‘delight in the Lord’ as defined by God but choose to give it our own definition, then we cannot expect God to ‘yield’ Himself to our definition. We must first find how HE defines it to “delight in the Lord”. That actually CAN be found and it is very explicit. I will post those two verses here:

    Isaiah 58:13-14 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

    By HONORING THE LORD by “not doing our own ways, nor finding our own pleasures, and not speaking our own words, THEN we shall delight ourselves in the Lord. You see. He defines it and in order to match His definition, we can then ask Him whatever we desire, because, OUR desire will have been transformed to His and we will no longer act on our own will but according to His that He has shown us individually and not just written in His Word. God wants us to come into an intimacy with Him in a way that is actually ‘beyond’ the printed word. Much in same way you cannot have intimacy with your betrothed wife and you are separated by a great distance and your only method of communication is through written letters. Can you imagine being married but never met in person? Can you imagine continuing in that long distance relationship by only writing letters as being a substitute to having intimacy in person? Can you imagine obeying God’s command to be fruitful and multiply in the earth and subdue it but never coming together in person physically but only through letters? And yet, this is what we are trying to do with God, that very same God who sent Jesus to show us Himself and then sent the Holy Spirit who is to continue showing us the Father and through Whom we have access to the Father and can come into that spiritual intimacy with Him and learn of Him and be transformed into that image and likeness we can readily see in His Son, Jesus!

    It just cannot be emphasized enough, unless we are led by the Holy Spirit, we cannot truly ‘know’ the Jesus and the Father. If we do not come to truly know Him except through the printed word but with no intimacy with Him through the Holy Spirit He sent for that purpose, then how do we think we can have anything He promises in His word. Imagine being very hungry and going to a fine restaurant but not going in to enjoy that delicious meal but remain standing on the outside, just catching the smell of the food and going home being satisfied with only that. This is what the reading of God’s word is like when we do not do what it says and do not draw near to God in relationship with Him. We deprive ourselves of the best He wants for us.

    Or imagine coming from death to life, being born again, like Lazarus rising from the tomb, still wrapped in his grave clothes with no way to free himself and Jesus not telling those nearest him to loose him and let him go. How long do you suppose he would survive in that condition? Not long. Yet, this is but a picture of how we came from death to life. Those grave clothes, the mindsets, judgments and vows, unforgiveness, and emotional wounds that bound us while dead, would remain binding us in life unless there are removed. The work of the water of God’s word is to help us once those immediate bondages are removed but unless someone who is free from those grave clothes is there to help free our legs, our arms and removing the cloth wrapped around our head, we could not move freely but would be greatly hindered in this new life of ours.

    Every one of us came into the kingdom of God just as Lazarus did, still bound by our grave clothes which still captured the smell of death in their cloth. We do not yet know how to walk by faith and not by sight. We still can only see darkly and we will remain restricted so we cannot walk freely or work freely. I truly hope you can see what I am attempting to share with you. There are a lot of issues that have not been dealt with in the average Christian’s life because so few have been sufficiently made free from those attitudes, mannerisms, judgments and promises we made to ourselves (oaths/vows) that carried into our lives as Christians but were not part of God’s package of freedom in the Spirit. These need to be removed and along the way, more light will come to us, greater revelations, greater understanding and the growing from that initial mustard seed like faith into that great tree Jesus spoke about but in order for this to happen, we have to die to self and self-will and live unto Christ but none of this we can do without the Holy Spirit’s guidance, wisdom, counsel and teaching. We are far too dependent on man or ourselves but far too little in our dependency on the Holy Spirit.

    If we were truly dependent on the Holy Spirit, then all those questions as to reasons why someone is not healed and delivered according to God’s own Word would have long ago been answered by Him. It is then evident we are NOT depending on Him nor are we seeking Him because we are left without an answer. Even in the Old Testament, God’s word says in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things you do not know.” We may say we ‘know’ the truth but the evidence that we do not stares us in the face daily when we do not witness His mighty hand in our lives and the lives of those we love. Is the arm of the Lord shortened to where He cannot save? Is there anything too difficult for Me, says the Lord? If we seek and get no answer, then we must examine the motives of our heart or ask Him to show us where we err.

    There have been many mighty men of God who have been used of Him to perform many and mighty miracles of healing and miracles throughout the years and each of them had a message that what they were doing could be accomplished by anyone if they truly believed. It is our judgments and our unbelief that stands in the way. If we follow the commandments of men, we will not give an ear nor seek the commandments of God for we will have been convinced that others have tried and not received, so, in their arrogance, sought to find another reason why those signs of God are not seen in their lives. No my brother in Christ, as I see it in His Word and through my own life experiences, God’s word is always true, only man is found to be a liar.

    There are so many things left to say but I cannot share them all here, although it may appear I have. Please visit my website at either jerrysundberg.com or http://www.hiddenmanna.us. They are mirror sites with different designs but the same messages. I pray that God will lead you to where you will find the answers to all your questions. They are all in His Word but hidden because certain men have tried to explain them away by spiritualizing them as not applicable to the whole man. If we are created in His image, and are redeemed back to Him, then every part of us, mind-will-emotions and spirit, are to return to what was created in Adam but even to a better than Adam, Jesus the Anointed. He came to redeem the whole man, even the body as this mortal WILL take on the immortal. Yes, the final redemption is to have our mortal bodies redeemed from the dead just as Jesus’ body has risen, not just in Spirit but in body as well. Then, the FULL redemption will be completed.

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