Praying Back Promises

John 15:7

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Hi, it’s Pastor Nelson again, this time, instead of studying God’s word, I thought we’d study Calvin and Hobbes. Does that sound like a good idea? No, we’ll get into God’s word here, too. But in this Vine in the Branches section that Jesus is talking about in John Chapter 15, he says something that almost makes me think of something I was rereading in one of the Calvin and Hobbes comics.

I think about how Calvin asks for presents at Christmas and he writes his letters to Santa is usually asking for crazy things like grenades, and flamethrowers, and lots of money. In one part, he’s complaining to Santa about how he didn’t receive the 15,000 items that he wanted for Christmas. There must have been some mix up with your secretarial staff. How about you just send me a check instead?

A little bit later, he writes a fake letter from his imaginary little brother named Melville and all the things that he wants for Christmas and says, hey, if Santa calls for this, I’ll add a new brother every year. Now, Jesus gives us a promise that almost sounds like a wish list for Santa. In John Chapter 15, this is verse 7 and it’s one of those verses just like, oh, what do you mean here, Jesus? So after talking about how we’re connected to him through faith, through the power of his word, he also tells us this in verse 7,

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)

Ask whatever you wish. And I start to think, wait a second, what are you talking about here? And are we going to get frustrated like Calvin does when he’s making the fifteen thousand wish list? What does Jesus mean?

Well, remember the context of what we’ve been studying when we are connected with Christ, when we’re connected with his word, we’re changed. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish. As we’re connected to Jesus, we have that life giving nourishment flowing through our body and we are changed. The Bible talks about when Jesus brings us to faith and the Holy Spirit brings us to faith. It’s the image of God being restored in us. Now there’s another Calvin and Hobbes comic, or Calvin is standing in his rocket ship underwear and saying, “made in the image of God. Yes, sir.” And Hobbs says “God must have a goofy sense of humor.” But it’s not that “image of God” means we look like God or something like that. But God created us holy and perfect and righteous with our will, our desires in perfect alignment with his. And as we’re connected to the vine, God strengthens that more and more, restoring his image in us through faith.

So that when we pray connected to God, connected to his words, with his words remaining in him, we’re not praying a wish list like Calvin would give to Santa, are we? Instead, we’re praying back God’s promises to him, but we’re saying God to keep me faithful, give me strength under temptation, forgive my sins, even though they seem so unforgivable. Give me more patience and strength. And whenever we’re praying, a promise that God has given us, we know that we’re in direct alignment with his will. He’s always answering that yes. I promise that it’s yours.

Now, sometimes we have our prayers, too, that that God hasn’t specifically promised. And the Christian who’s connected with Jesus, connected with the vine, will bring those prayers to God in a different way, won’t he? Or she? They’ll be saying, Lord, it’s possible. I don’t know what is best for me. I’m not the creator of the universe. I haven’t seen this whole thing from start to finish. But I know you know, and I know you love me because I’ve seen what you did for me through Christ. So, Lord, here’s what I think would be helpful for me. But then we pray, as Jesus taught us to in the Lord’s Prayer, connected with his words, what he tells us and we say your will be done. And we know that our loving father hears those prayers and he answers them, he answers them in the way that is best for us. And when we remain in him and his words are in us, we’re praying back those words to him when we’re connected with his will, whatever we ask, ask, and it will be done.