Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Whatever We Ask

Scene from Bruce Almighty with Bruce answering prayers online
Teacher, we want you to do for us
whatever we ask of you.

In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus' disciples James and John come to him with that great opening line above. Now Jesus is too kind to Zebedee's boys to reply the way I want him too, which is what I heard Dr. Phil say the one time I watched his show. Dr. Phil said, "Did some one tell you I'm stupid?"

Jesus knows better than to promise to give James and John whatever they ask just like any parent knows better than to promise to give a child whatever he or she asks. But Jesus lets them tell him what they want. Jesus listens to the desires of their hearts and answers honestly from his heart.

James and John say, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." But Jesus knows when he comes into his glory it will be through the death of the cross and he goes on to say,
The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.
In retrospect, it was prepared for thieves to be on Jesus' right and left as he came into his glory. This is not what James and John had in mind.

In the movie Bruce Almighty (pictured above), the title character is given the task and the power to answer prayers for a multi-block radius. He gives everyone what they want and disasters mount on top of one another. Bruce doesn't understand where he went wrong. God replies, "Since when do people know what they want?"

This must be why Jesus taught his disciples to pray for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. While there is nothing wrong with telling God what you desire--just as Jesus encouraged James and John to do. It's helpful to know that an answer of "No" is probably grace. Best to tell God what you want while praying that God's will for the situation will become your will for the situation.

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church


  • At 10/21/2006 10:49 AM, Anonymous Debbie said…

    Thank you for this entry. It explains so well why I have such a problem with the "Name it and claim it" theology commonly taught in many churches. After all, God is not some great vending machine to whom we can slip our prayers through the slot, push a button, and out pops our wishes. I think I actually prefer that God says, "No" sometimes. It reinforces that He is Almighty and Supreme and that He is beyond our comprehension and understanding. His ways are NOT our ways, although His ways are always true and, regardless of how they appear from my ant-sized perspective of the big picture, they are always just.


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