Jesus is seeking the development of His disciples, and the place that He looks to perceive it is in the progress of their prayers. The amazing thing, at least from our human point of view is where in the prayer He looks. Jesus doesn’t look at their invocation, but at their motivation. He doesn’t look to see what they ask for, but rather why that ask for it, and He measures their prayers accordingly.
When Jesus declares, “Until now you have asked nothing in my name,” He means, “You haven’t asked in my interest.” The problem wasn’t that Adam had asked for an apple, or that John had asked to sit at His right hand in the Kingdom. The problem was that they both asked for what they asked for for their self.
They weren’t looking to fulfill the joy of Jesus, but to fulfill their own personal, and even selfish, desires.
It’s not that Adam went searching for an apple, but that in his search he went looking in the wrong garden. You can get an apple from either Eden or Gethsemane, but in Eden you seek for yourself, while in Gethsemane you seek for another. The first is asking in your name, the second is asking in Jesus’ name.
We must purify our desires, because it is by those desires that the Master measures our progress as His disciples. It is not so much that we must change what we’re asking for, but the purpose behind our prayers.
“And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. . .” Jeremiah 45:5
I have been asked many times, “Pastor, is it wrong for me to ask God to bless my finances?” The answer to that question is to be found in your reason for asking it. If you want God to bless you so that you can have a bigger, nicer house; a more luxurious automobile; the ability to travel the world in recreation and relaxation – the answer is ‘yes, you are wrong to ask that of God.” However, if you ask the Lord to bless you with financial blessings and your intent is not to get, but to give; to share instead of spend, stack up or save, then I believe that you are not only right in your request, but dare I say it, righteous.
One day the Devil tempted Jesus – “command that these stones become bread.” (Matthew 4:3) It was a temptation because it was said in an attempt to get Jesus to satisfy a personal, physical need. To have done so would have been selfish and therefore sinful. For Jesus to have turned those stones into bread to feed a hungry multitude, or even a widow and her son, would not have been sinful – it would have been sacrificial.
“Lord, so many times I have come before you with the desires of my own desert. I have come seeking bread for myself. May the next time I hear the hungry cries of the multitude – or even the one – may I then coming asking in your Name.”