Finding God's Winning Spirit

Father Knows Best

July 15, 2014 | Greg Smith | Christianity


As a Christian counselor, one of the questions that I am confronted with on a continual basis from my clients is this, "Why doesn't God answer my prayers?" This is a perfectly good question and is usually asked with Scripture to back it up. After all, John 14:13-14 says, “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.” So what's the deal?

When we combine Ellicott's Commentary and the English Expositor's Greek Testament commentary we get this explanation:

This gives the condition of successful prayer: it must be for the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom. For the end is that of the fulfilment of God’s purpose - the sending forth of His Son so the work of Christ may be manifested to benefit the world. It follows from this that personal petitions are not contemplated here, except as far as they are for the glory of God; and that petitions asked in ignorance may be most truly answered when they are not granted.

So what does this mean in plain English? Well it means a couple of things. First of all it means that all prayers that glorify God and are in concordance with His Spirit to propagate the Gospel and further His kingdom are available to us – that when our hearts and desires are consistent with the same heart and desire of Christ (not our will but His will be done) then God will grant us anything.

Secondly, these commentaries tell us that when these prayers are not offered with the correct spirit the answer is no. I will be honest with you, the first time I dealt with this passage and did the exegesis, I felt that this was a tease and that I was the victim of some spiritual or theological loophole. It was a veiled promise that turned up empty. It was like a “buy one get one free” (but only while supply lasts) thing.

Over the years I have become more comfortable with this passage and have, after 20 years of parenting, began to really understand the message. I find myself telling clients that God typically does not do the heavy lifting, which means that as parents we want our children to become strong and we know that fixing, handling, or helping them avoid problems will not prepare them for life or enhance their self-esteem.

The bottom line is that many times what we pray for will take away those things that can make us stronger; that we in essence are not asking to glorify Him but rather are asking Him to glorify us. We, like our children, must realize that sometimes “no”, although not the answer we want – is an answer nonetheless.

Faith is believing that the Father knows best.


John 14:13-14

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