Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.” And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.” (Mark 10:35-37, N.K.J.V.)
So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise. He is calling you.” And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” (Mark 10:49-51. N.K.J.V.)
Here we have two separate stories from the same chapter of Mark, and in each story Jesus asks someone, “What do you want Me to do for you?” James and John wanted the honor of sitting at Jesus’ right hand and left hand during His prophesied kingdom reign upon the earth. Jesus, after some discussion, refused to grant that request (Mark 10:38-40). Conversely, the blind man (whose name was Bartimaeus) asked to receive his sight. Jesus immediately granted that request.
What made the difference between one request being refused and the other one being granted? The answer is: the will of God. As Jesus Himself says in John 14:13-14, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (N.K.J.V.). Notice that the asking of which He speaks must be done in His name. That’s an important qualifier because asking for something “in Jesus’ name” naturally involves only asking for things “in God’s will.” As 1 John 5:14-15 says:
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (N.K.J.V., emphasis mine)
I wouldn’t even begin to try to guess which prayer-request items are in God’s will for your life and which ones aren’t. That’s between you and Him. What I will tell you, though, is that you are crazy if you don’t reverently ask Him for the things you want. I’m not talking about you demanding anything or attempting to impose your will upon Him. Again, you asking for anything “in Jesus’ name” automatically includes you being submitted to God’s will concerning that request. I’m simply saying that there’s nothing wrong with asking God to grant you that certain something. Who knows? That something just might be in God’s will for your life.
Three young brothers once spent the night with their grandparents at the grandparents’ farm. The next morning the farm’s old rooster did his job and woke everyone up at sunrise. While the boys moaned and went back to sleep, the grandmother got up and prepared a big breakfast complete with country ham, eggs, and grits. When everything was ready, she called the boys down to eat.
One by one they came into the kitchen, each one barely dressed and still rubbing the sleep from his eyes. It didn’t take long, though, for the youngsters to become fully alert when they saw all that food just waiting for them. They quickly took their places at the kitchen table and everybody, including grandma and grandpa, enjoyed the morning feast.
With their bellies full, the boys were now ready to get outside and explore the wonders of the farm. But just as they were about to hit the door, the grandmother said, “Hold on a second. I’ve got a treat for you.” The treat turned out to be a pan of piping hot biscuits, freshly pulled from the oven.
The oldest brother forced his way to the head of the line and grabbed his biscuit first. In a flash, he was out the door with it and into the yard just outside the kitchen. Next came the second oldest, and he had no trouble following suit. Finally, the youngest brother took his turn getting a biscuit, and then he headed for the door to join his two brothers in the yard.
Just before he reached the door, though, he stopped, turned around, and asked, “Grandma, do you have strawberry preserves to put on this biscuit?” The grandmother gave a big grin and said, “I certainly do.” Then she walked over to the refrigerator, opened the door, and pulled out a mason jar full of strawberry preserves. After carefully separating the top of the boy’s biscuit from the bottom, she opened the jar of preserves and spooned out a big helping onto the biscuit. With a twinkle in her eye, she then lovingly placed the top back onto the biscuit and handed it back to the youngster. He took it, said, “Thank you,” and hit the door like a shot.
When he got out into the yard, he saw that his two brothers had already finished eating their biscuits. That gave him the perfect opportunity to torment them by making them watch him take his first bite into his. As he sunk his teeth down into the biscuit, his brothers couldn’t help but notice that strawberry preserves began dripping down from both corners of his mouth. That prompted the oldest brother to ask the inevitable question, “Hey, where did you get those strawberry preserves?” Gleefully, the youngest brother answered, “I got ’em from grandma.” “But she didn’t give us any,” objected the second-youngest brother. “She didn’t give you any,” said the youngest brother triumphantly, “because YOU DIDN’T ASK.”