What I’m Thinking: Ask and Act

Jesus told his disciples to ask for anything and he would do it. So let us pray – but let us also act in accordance with our prayers.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the fourteenth chapter of John’s gospel (John 14:1-14). This is part of what we frequently call “Jesus’ farewell speech to his disciples.”

In John’s Gospel, the Last Supper ends with Jesus speaking at length to his friends. In this section – well, this is a section that I frequently use part of at funerals. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”

There are other pieces here as well. Jesus makes the remarkable – in fact, at the time scandalous – assertion that to look at him was to see God. That has become part of basic Christian theology and message and core belief, but it would have come as quite a remarkable statement when Jesus first made it.

And it ends, or at least this section ends, with Jesus asserting that the disciples can ask anything they want of him, and he will do it. “Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not let them be afraid.”

We are in a time when those first words of Jesus speak to our deep need, our deep fear, our deep anxiety. But we are also in a place where we have been asking (we think) and we can’t quite see what God’s answer might be. It is the earnest prayer of an entire planet that a pandemic might come to an end. It is the earnest prayer of family after family after family that their loved ones might survive. And it is also the prayer of far too many asking God’s comfort and presence in the wake of the loss of a loved one.

So what are we to do with this assertion that anything we ask God will give?

And to be honest, I don’t really know: except to keep asking, except to keep trusting, except to keep on working toward the fulfillment of that prayer by our own means as well as our prayers.

Truthfully, to bring an end to a pandemic, all that’s needed is time. But that time can be a time of enormous grief and loss and suffering, or it can be a time of reduced grief and loss and suffering. The news has reported that over the weekend Americans seemed to emerge from their homes at greater rates than they have. And the sad truth is that this is a way that we will extend the pandemic; this is a way that we will increase the loss and the pain and the suffering.

Going out irresponsibly, putting ourselves and others at risk: this is not a faithful way of living. This is not an expression of confidence, “Believe in God, believe also in me.”


Instead, the time calls for our prayers reinforced by precaution, a precaution that protects our own lives and health, a precaution especially that is done for others’ lives and for others’ health.

Believe in God. Believe also in Jesus. Believe that to see the one is to see the other. Believe in prayer and petition. Believe also that we have a role in the fulfillment of God’s promises. Believe and act in Jesus’ name.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: | Posted on May 4, 2020

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