“Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask” (Mark 10:35). James and John are talking to Jesus as they walk toward Jerusalem.Jesus has just predicted His arrest, torture and death… again! (vs 32-34) but it seems pretty obvious that James and John haven’t been paying attention. Their request? They want to be present in Jesus’ glory (vs 37) after all the unpleasantness passes.
How does Jesus respond? “You do not know what you are asking” (vs 38). James and John were asking to sit on either side of Jesus in His glory. But, they have no clue what it’s going to take for Jesus to be glorified.“Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place (Philippians 2:9). That “therefore” encompasses being emptied, made human, a servant, being obedient all the way to death – to death on a cross (Phil 2:5-8).
We see ‘un chin chin’ (a tiny little bit) of the picture. We see the athlete standing on the podium receiving the gold medal. Yeah, the Wheaties box! The hours of drudgery, exhaustion, self-sacrifice… not so much.
How often do I pray in like James and John, demanding He do what I want? I want You to give me a clear picture, anwer my questions, give me the stuff I need.
Oh, I may not be bold enough to say ‘whatever I ask’, I may throw in an ‘if it is Your will,’ but that’s not really what I mean. What I mean is, Gimme what I want.I’m not saying we shouldn’t pray specifically. I’m not saying we shouldn’t bring to God the petitions of our hearts, our intercession on behalf of others. After all, we are to come with boldness before the throne (Hebrews 4:16).
Boldness, not arrogance. I get the two of them confused. Boldness means without hesitation, without fear. Arrogance means with a sense of superiority, of pride.Our boldness does not come from ourselves, but from who we are in Christ. Beloved children of God who can approach without fear. Arrogance implies we somehow deserve to be there. That there is something about us in ourselves meriting favor.
Gimme what I want. How often do I whine and complain when God doesn’t seem to hear my prayers.
Is it because He is unloving? The truth is, He doesn’t answer because of His great love. Because I can only see a small part, and dimly at that, I make all kinds of demands, not knowing what I’m asking.Like a child pouting about having to go to bed, or not being allowed to eat cake for breakfast, my requests are often immature. Worse, they are often arrogant, assuming I know best how to conduct my life, and the lives of those around me.
What if I am praying for God to take away a trial from someone… and it’s in that very desert where they will get to meet Him in new, life-changing ways? What if my discomfort with their discomfort would take from them the sweetness of restoration in Christ?Father, I come to You again today, not knowing how to pray. Thank you that in spite of my lack, You love me, You know me. Thank you for not answering my silly demands, but instead, lovingly inviting me to seek You.
Thank you for Jesus’ obedience, all the way to Calvary and into Hell. Thank you that in Him, we can come to You with boldness. Forgive us when we treat our position as Your children with arrogance. In boldness, I ask You to continue to work out Your will, in my life, in the lives of those I love. Not in my way, but in Yours, only in Yours, is there glory.Holy Spirit, move in me, move through me, purify, purge, cut out those things that are not of You, I pray. I pray this, knowing I don’t really know what I’m saying. But You do. You do. Help me to rest in that confidence. Amen.