John 14:12-17

Anything? Really, Jesus, we can pray for anything?

One day, Johnny told his daddy he’d like to have a baby brother. His dad paused for a moment and then replied, “Johnny, if you pray every day for about three months for a baby brother, I guarantee that God will give you one!”

Johnny responded eagerly to his dad’s challenge and began to pray every night. After a couple of months of praying, he got a little skeptical. So he asked a few older friends what they thought about it and they said, “You just don’t pray for two months and whammo—a new baby brother.” So, Johnny quit praying.

After another month, Johnny’s mother went to the hospital. When she came back home, Johnny’s parents called him into their bedroom. And when his dad pulled back the blanket and there was not one baby brother—but two baby brothers! Johnny’s dad looked down at him and said, “Now aren’t you glad you prayed?” After just a moment’s hesitation, little Johnny looked up at his dad and said, “I am, but aren’t you glad I quit when I did?”

And little Johnny’s faith in prayer was restored.

“You can ask for anything in My name, and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father. Yes, ask anything in my name and I will do it” (John 14:13-14).

Anything? That’s what it says.

And so is this an invitation to pray for a little brother or two? What if instead of a brother, Johnny wanted an iPhone or a hoverboard? What if Daddy thinks it’s time for a new truck; a Dodge Ram with a Hemi and 4-wheel drive, and all the bells and whistles? Why not? He said, “Anything.”

Listen, you and I are Biblically astute enough to know that Jesus is not giving us permission to lift the word ‘anything’ off the page of scripture right out of its Biblical and historical context in order to call upon the name of the Lord for a…….nything?

And beyond the appropriateness of asking for a…….nything, what about the practicality of the good Lord being able to do whatever we ask? What if, for example, because little Johnny was a hellion Mom and dad had been desperately praying asking God to withhold any more children? What’s God to do? God hears little Johnny’s prayer, but He hears Mom and Dad too. So what does God do; in this case or many others like it that come to His attention by the millions each day?

In her book Mustard, Virginia Whitman gives a similar example and then wisely writes, “Our finite minds cannot encompass all the ramifications of a single situation, but God can, and He must act accordingly, justly, and impartially for the benefit of all according to His will.” 1

Which points us right back to the Biblical/historical context where we must note that the word ‘anything’ is qualified by the phrase ‘In His Name.’

To Old and New Testament people, one’s name was tied to that persons’ character and mission. In other words, the use of ‘His name’ presupposes that the person praying is requesting that which is congruent with the mission of Jesus.

Jesus taught His disciples the same principle in other words when He taught them to pray the Lord’ Prayer. “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed (honor) be Thy name, Thy will be done, Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10).

Thus the “anything” we are invited to pray for includes all things that can be identified as advancing or enhancing or glorifying or bringing about God’s Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven!

Therefore, this prayer promise is no blank check against which we can draw to satisfy our own personal desires. It is instead a promise that when we make Christ’s goals our own, He will make all the resources of heaven available to achieve them. Such prayers are not selfish but in the interest of God’s Kingdom. They are in accordance with God’s will, ever implying, “Not our will, but Thy will be done.”

To be sure, there are other kinds of prayers in the New Testament we are invited to pray. Philippians 4:6-7 comes readily to mind:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

But please notice Paul doesn’t promise the answer we may be seeking; he promises God’s peace.

In today’s text, Jesus is inviting, no He is imploring you and me to pray for God’s Kingdom to come to earth as it is in heaven.

Beyond the word ‘anything’ being qualified by the phrase “in His name” is the link between this promise and the previous verse.

In verse 12, Jesus promised the disciples they would do “even greater works” than He had done. We saw two weeks ago that the “greater works” of verse 12 refer to the wonderful advancements of God’s Kingdom experienced by the disciples in the Book of Acts as well as those experienced by His disciples today.

The Book of Acts also bears out this link between the greater works and prayer as time and again the disciples pray for what:

In Acts 1, they ask God to give them the wisdom to choose Judas’ replacement.

In Acts 2, they pray for the promised coming of the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 4:29, “And now, O Lord, give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word.”

In Acts 6, they ask God to bless the ministry of the first deacons.

In Acts 7, one of those deacons, Stephen, is being stoned and as he dies he prays that those responsible for his death would be forgiven.

In Acts 8, Peter and John prayed for new converts to receive the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 12, many people pray that Peter might be freed from prison so that he might continue to preach the gospel of Christ.

In Acts 13, the believers at the Church in Antioch pray for Paul and Barnabus to be successful in reaching people for Christ as they embarked on their first Missionary journey.

In other words, if you study the prayers in Acts, you will never see a prayer being uttered for a baby brother or a Dodge Ram. The kind of prayers offered are prayers that focus upon seeing the Kingdom of God advanced.

Our President attended the National Prayer Breakfast this past week. Were you aware that has been going on for quite some time as during the civil war Abraham Lincoln met with a group of ministers for a prayer breakfast? At one point one of the ministers said, “Mr. President, let us pray that God is on our side”. Lincoln’s response showed far greater insight, “No, gentlemen, let us pray that we are on God’s side.”

Lincoln reminded those ministers that prayer is not a tool by which we get God to do what we want but an invitation to open ourselves to being and doing what God wants. 2

In his book, An Unstoppable Force, Erwin McManus shares the story of how the prayers of the people of the church he pastors yielded a wonderful result.

While ministering in South Dallas, McManus’s small congregation began to grow. Looking to build a larger church building, the leaders found an acre of land. Due to its location near downtown Dallas, it seemed strange that the property was available. Excited at their good fortune, this small group of people; many on welfare, began to pray that the site would soon be theirs. Eventually, they were able to purchase the property.

As the congregation began the process of obtaining building permits, they discovered the property had been declared ‘unbuildable’ because it rested on an old landfill. McManus grieved over this waste of precious time and money. He writes:

We had bought an acre of garbage. Several core samples were taken. They went at least twenty-five feet deep and found nothing but trash. All I could do was ask our congregation to pray with me and believe that God was with us and that He would use the worst of human mistakes to perform the greatest of miracles.

After months of prayer, a woman from the congregation told McManus that since they had asked God to turn the land into something useful, surely it had been taken care of. Feeling God’s confirmation of her words, McManus asked for more core samples to be taken. This time the researchers found soil.

McManus writes:

How did this happen? Was it because the core sample was in a different part of the land? Or could it be that God had actually performed a miracle and changed the landfill to good land? What I do know is that the same realtor who sold the property to us came back and offered three times the amount he had sold it for once he heard the clearance to build had actually come through. What I do know is that the previous owners could not build on the property, but we could. What I cannot tell you is what happened beneath the ground at 2815 Ervay Street, Dallas, Texas. All I can tell you is what I know; that Cornerstone worships in a building on that acre of land that was once a landfill. 3

In a similar fashion, you and I are invited by the Lord of the church to pray for things that will enlarge God’s Kingdom in this place.

Pray for our church, our community and our church’s mission to our community.

Pray for our church. Ask God to give all of us His wisdom. For those who lead, wisdom to lead. For those who follow, the wisdom to follow. Ask God to prepare new leaders who will take us into the future. Ask God to reveal His will as it concerns the future of our property. Ask God to grant us boldness to invite others to this place for worship.

Pray for our community. Ask God for people to respond to the grace that we share with them. Ask God to open peoples’ hearts to His word. Ask God to grant us boldness in delivering that word.

Pray for our mission to our community. Ask God to bless our ministries. Ask God to bless the people who attend our monthly Community Dinner as we share devotional thoughts and prayers with them. Ask God to incline folks to respond to the invitations they will receive to be part of our worship services and our Bible Studies; our Grief Share, our Divorce Care, our Recovery Ministry, and our soon-coming Stephen Ministries.

You know I came across James 4:2 this past week and it really caught me up short. “You have not because you ask not” (James 4:2).

A man died and went to heaven. When he got there, an angel gave him a guided tour and he saw a warehouse full of thousands of boxes of different shapes and sizes. “What are these?” he asked.

“Those are the answers to the prayers you never prayed. God was ready to send them, but you never asked.”

Pastor and author Tony Evans was in Columbia, South Carolina, to preach at a crusade being held at the University of South Carolina football stadium. Thousands had gathered for the evening session, but news reports indicated a serious thunderstorm was on the way. In fact, the storm was expected to hit at 7:00 pm; the exact time the meeting was scheduled to start. A group of preachers and other church leaders decided to gather for prayer. Evans noted that all the preachers prayed what many would consider safe prayers; ones quite undemanding of God. Then, a woman named Linda spoke up, asking if she could pray. Linda’s prayer went something like this:

Lord, thousands have gathered to hear the Good News about your Son. It would be a shame on your name for us to have all these unbelievers go without the gospel when you control the weather, and you don’t stop it. In the name of Jesus Christ, address this storm!

So ended the prayer meeting. Everyone took their places under the dark, threatening sky.

The leader of the crusade told the people, “We’ll go as long as we can.” Umbrellas sprouted up among the crowd. A man sitting next to Linda opened his umbrella and offered to shield her as well. Linda refused.

Evans says he and his wife watched as the rain clouds came up to the stadium and then split in two. The storm rained on both sides of the stadium and came back together on the other side. All of those gathered for the crusade stayed dry.

And Tony Evans points out: “How did Linda get what the preachers didn’t? She had the boldness, the shameless audacity, to ask.” 4

So let us unabashedly commit ourselves to praying for CrossPointe Church, asking God to help accomplish His will on earth as it is in heaven!



3 Erwin McManus. An Unstoppable Force. (Group, 2001), pp.151-153;
submitted by John Beukema, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

4 Taken from a sermon by Tony Evans at The Brooklyn Tabernacle Pastors and Leaders Conference (4-16-07); John Beukema, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania