I think this verse has left many sitting alone and lost. I’ll be honest:  there’s no easy answer. But I think that part of the problem is we tend to focus on only one part of that Scripture. We want to hear all about the “receiving” side of things—What are you going to do for me, God? Why haven’t you given me what I asked for?—rather than the “believing” side—God I believe in you 100 percent and know you love me and today that’s all that matters. God has and always will have our best interests at heart. Just as our children look at us in faith, knowing we love them and will take care of them, we need to do the same with our heavenly Father. I’m not saying that will always be easy; we might want to stomp our foot or cry into our pillows. But we have to trust God will make all things clear some day.

In Jesus’s Name

In John’s Gospel we read that whatever prayers we ask in Jesus’s name will be answered so that that God the Father will be glorified (John 14:13). This is such an incredible gift. But . . . the authority we’re given can be a dangerous thing. I think it’s easy to tag, “In Jesus’s name, amen,” to the end of our prayers without thinking through the full implications of what that means.

Coming in someone’s name means you represent that person—you have been granted the authority to speak for them. For example, when police officers or FBI agents present themselves at someone’s home, they produce identification to show that they have the authority of the agency they represent behind them. Likewise, when we say, “In Jesus’s name,” we are saying we are on royal business. [0]Understanding that has helped me be bold in prayer but also be careful that my requests are in keeping with the character of Christ. I have a fresh sense of what an honor it is to be able to come to God in his son’s name, and I work hard to not abuse the privilege.

According to the Father's Will

In John’s first letter, he clarifies that we are to ask according to the Father’s will, and he will hear us (1 John 5:14). What exactly does that mean? How do we keep from replacing our own wishes with his? Even more, how do we even know what the Father’s will is in any given situation? To my human understanding, it would always seem to be God’s will to heal a child or a broken marriage. Wouldn’t such a miracle bring glory to God? What about when a child prays a simple prayer of faith in Jesus’s name? Surely God would answer that.

My son faced this heartbreaking dilemma when he was just four years old. My father-in-law, William Pfaehler, lived with us for two years after the death of his wife, Eleanor. Having him in our home was a wonderful gift to all of us, but especially to Christian. He loved his papa so much, and they had a lot of fun together. One night when Barry was in Florida, William had a heart attack and collapsed in his bathroom. Christian and I sat with him until the paramedics arrived. He was still breathing when they loaded him in the ambulance, but his lips were very blue. Christian and I followed the ambulance to the hospital. When we arrived, the doctor informed us that William had not survived the trip.

Christian was quiet as we drove home. All he said that night was, “I’m going to miss my papa.”

He grieved openly for weeks, and then one day I saw a flash of anger cross his face as he brushed our cat, Lily, off the sofa. I suggested that we take a walk, and I asked him if he was angry. With his customary honesty, he told me he was.

“You told me, Mom, that Jesus listens to our prayers and answers them. Well, I asked God not to take my papa, and he did anyway. So what’s the point?”