Let me say that again. God will give you whatever you desire; whatever you ask for. “Whoa, what?!” I know, right? Sounds pretty crazy…maybe even a little bit sacrilegious or greedy. First, it says this in the Bible. Second, it’s not what you think.
- “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:19
- “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22
- “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer…it will be yours.” Mark 11:24
- “And I will do whatever you ask in my name…” John 14:13
- “…ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” John 15:7
- “…I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” John 16:23
- “…[the Lord] will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
How’s that for Biblical evidence?
So, here’s the thing: it is absolutely true that God has said these things. Most of those verses above came straight out of the mouth of Jesus. However, here’s the other thing: there is a massive caveat or prerequisite which must take place in order for these things to be true.
We see this prerequisite most clearly in John and Psalms:
- “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.” John 15:7
- “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
According to John, if you have NOT remained in the Lord, if you are NOT abiding with Christ, then you will not receive whatever you ask for. According to David in Psalms, if you are not delighted in the Lord, He will not give you the things you desire.
Now, why is this? What principle is at work here? The guiding truth is this: when we abide in Jesus and delight ourselves in the Lord, Jesus our Lord conforms our desires to His own; He shapes our hearts to want what He wants.
This is so desperately important for us to understand! The reason the scripture can say things like, “Ask whatever you want and it will be given to you.” is because when we are born again through the Holy Spirit our desires are also re-created. When we are made into new creations, Jesus begins to shape and conform our desires to mirror HIS desires. And the more closely what we want mirrors what God wants, the more often we will receive what we ask for in prayer.
This hinges on abiding with Christ. If we are not spending time in prayer – not prayers of requests, but simply in having fellowship with Jesus – and if we are not spending time in the Scripture, then we are not allowing God to shape our wants. The LESS we abide in Jesus through prayer and Scripture, the LESS our hearts will be shaped like His. And the less our hearts are shaped like His, the less we will find our prayers answered.
“Delight yourself in the Lord…” carries the same meaning. If our greatest delight is God – who He is, what He is like, what He has done – then our hearts will be delighted with what God’s heart is delighted with. Then, it is no problem whatsoever for God to grant the desires of our hearts! Why? Because if our heart delights in the same things God’s heart delights in, when we ask him for what we want He is simply doing the things that HE wants.
This produces a couple of applicable truths that will be of great help to you in your walk of faith.
First: Abiding in Jesus will be more delightful than anything else in the universe. Want to live a life filled with delight? Live a life filled with Jesus.
Second: As you abide in Jesus, delight yourself in Him, and allow your wants to be conformed into His wants – you will find that you will “receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” The path to a powerful prayer life is cultivating a heart constantly delighted in Jesus.
Third: As you delight yourself in the Lord and submit your desires to be conformed to God’s desires, you can more fully trust the wants of your heart. Our heart is deceitful, and we often stumble over making decisions because we don’t know what we really want, or because we aren’t sure we want what Jesus wants. And it is good to be wary of the heart. However, the more you are delighted in Jesus, the more you can trust that what delights you is of Jesus.
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.”John 15:7
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4