Article by Jon Bloom
In John 16:23–24, Jesus makes a stunning, sweeping, glorious promise to us:
“In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
So we ask the Father for things we long for because we want the full joy he offers us. And we don’t ask for trivial or fleshly things, because we know what the Apostle James says: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). No, we pray for greater faith, love, holiness, wisdom, discernment, experience of God’s grace, boldness, and joy in God, while praying for less satisfaction with worldly things.
Such longings and prayers are sincere, and God loves them and loves to answer them. But we do not know ourselves very well, or the depth or pervasiveness of our sin, or what it really requires of us in order to receive what we ask for. We can’t help but have unreal, romantic imaginations and expectations about what God’s answers to our prayers will be.
Therefore, we are often unprepared for the answers we receive from God. . . .