"Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor.
"What is your request?" he [Jesus] asked.
She replied, 'In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.'
But Jesus answered by saying to them, 'You don't know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering that I am about to drink?'
'Oh yes,' they replied, 'we are able!'
Matthew 20:20-22 AMP (emphasis, mine)
One of my favorite verses, as a teen, was Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart."
I desired, and so I delighted. (Or tried to, anyway.)
I thought that if I served Him enough; spent time in His presence; and marked off the good Christian checklist He would give me the things I wanted.
For the relationship I thought would satisfy,
For the money I thought would solve all my problems,
For the platform I thought He could use.
Ah, poor little naive me.
I'm so glad God has grace for our immaturity and ignorance.
This mama, found here in Matthew, had a pretty bold desire. She had seen and believed that Jesus really was the Son of God. She followed Him, and now she wanted a hookup for her two sons, James and John.
"What do you want?," Jesus asks her (and you know He knew).
As she lays out her request, we see some less-than-best motives at play...
"Okay, so when you get back to heaven, could you please honor my sons (ahem, and me) by seating them beside you for all to see?"
Jesus answers, "You don't know what you are asking!"
In other words, "When you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong..." (James 4:3, NLT)
I feel like this has been His answer to me so many times, but I was too wrapped up in my desires to hear Him say, "You're praying the wrong thing."
What I've realized over the years is as I draw nearer to God, delighting in Him, He doesn't so much give me the desires of my heart, as He does change my desires to be His desires.
See, God wasn't opposed to honoring James and John, He just knew the full story of all that would entail. (i.e. the unsurpassed torment of God's wrath).
Jesus isn't opposed to my desires either (not all of them, anyway), but He sees the bigger picture and knows the best path for me.
And, oh, how His ways truly are so much higher (Isaiah 55:9).
And so, instead of coming before God with my opinions and ideas about how life should be clenched tightly in my hands, I've been taking a different approach lately...
"God, I don't know what You want- show how me what to pray!"
I lean into the words of Paul in Romans 8:26, "...and the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us in groanings that cannot be expressed in words."
And so I pray for what to pray for.
I seek His face.
I study His ways.
I listen to His voice in His Word so that I can recognize it in my own life
So that I may know what I am asking for, then I can "...approach the throne of grace with confidence." Because God honors bold and specific prayers.
Dwelling in Him,
A little about me...
Hi, I'm Katie!
Wife to Craig, mom of three, author, writer, Jesus-follower, Bible teacher, and coffee enthusiast.
Follow me as I follow Christ and share my heart throughout the journey.
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