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You Really Can Ask for Anything
Ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.
Some parts of the Bible are simply more difficult to believe than others.
And I think John 15:7 is certainly a challenge. Strangely, in many ways I think we find it more difficult than even miraculous accounts like Lazarus coming back from the dead at the command of Jesus (in John 11).
Perhaps it’s easier for us to imagine there was a special time very long ago and very far away where dead bodies could come back to life, a man could walk on water, and lunch for 5,000 could spring into existence from a handful of loaves and fishes. Maybe these miracles in the pages of the Bible are easier for us to believe because they are not touching our lives in a palpable way.
But this promise about prayer in John 15:7 is different. It leaps out of the ancient text and challenges our faith where we live right now. It is truly an amazing promise that is very difficult to brush aside as something only meaningful to ancient Bible characters. Jesus was speaking not only to his closest followers at the moment, but to all generations of Christians that would follow—including us today.
I remember the moment I was reading this passage when it really caught my attention. I wondered if Jesus could possibly mean what he was saying or if it was just too good to be true. So many of us don’t take this promise seriously. And I wondered why. That’s when I decided to really dig in, and I found that Jesus said it, and he really meant it. As I looked into this verse, I found that apprehending this promise in its proper context and overcoming the objections has been one of the most fruitful endeavors in my Christian life.
Here’s what I learned:
- It is a conditional promise. Jesus said, “If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” But I make the case that most Christians I know fulfill this condition and hence ought to expect the result.
- I often hear “we need to be careful with verses like John 15:7 because it is sometimes abused by ‘word-faith’ or ‘prosperity’ preachers who have wandered into heresy.” Although this is true, my response is that I’m not going to let those who might abuse this passage rob me of gleaning the wonderful promise that the Lord himself had in store for us.
- We often find this promise difficult because we are immersed in a culture that simply does not think supernatural things (like answers to prayer) happen. This affects us all—no matter how spiritual we are. But the Lord can help us overcome it.
- There is an important context to this passage. Jesus speaks this promise in context of giving his famous “vine and branches” discourse. The thrust of the whole passage is about being plugged into Jesus (the vine) and bearing his fruit for his kingdom.
The conclusion, then, is this: if you are abiding in him, and his words are abiding in you and you want to serve him and bear his fruit, then you truly can ask for anything and it will be done for you! Just as John 15:7 tells us.
My hope is that as you put this promise into practice into your own life that you, too, will discover, as I have, that this verse sets up conditions that are perfectly designed to keep us plugged into Jesus. God is prepared to do amazing things in and through us, big and small, if we trust him and know in our minds and hearts that he can deliver whatever we ask for in prayer.