Sermon preached at Christ the Servant, Stockwood, Bristol, 23 May 1976
Anything which you ask in my name, the Father will grant to you.
Now surely there must by now be an enormous queue of people forming, every person in that line with an objection, an example, an instance, saying,
“Now, look here, I asked for this.”
“I prayed to God for…”
“I petitioned God most humbly, concerning…”
“I fasted for three days before going on my knees.”
And every person in that queue would agree that they had most faithfully and reverently finished their prayers (indeed, doesn’t every prayer finish), “through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
We are asking things in his name; and they don’t happen.
And perhaps with one voice they would say, protest: “why does Jesus in the Bible say one thing, and God in our lives seem to say another?”
No. Don’t dismiss my imaginary queue of protesters. They are honest but puzzled enquirers into their faith. Are not their questions genuine? Haven’t they been on many a Christian’s lips at some time? And to say by way of an answer, “well, you’ve got to have faith” will not do. It’s frustratingly not enough.
If you will, first, accept me as a member of my own imaginary queue, and not as the smug quizmaster of the TV contest who’s peeped at the answers already, I’ll offer to you some of the ways which I have found helpful in trying to come to terms with this asking and answering of prayers.