In John 14:13, Jesus says: “If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”
If you are reading this article on Friday, May 31, my family and I will be headed back home to Moses Lake today. We spent some time on San Juan Island, on the west side of the mountains. I wanted to take a retreat and recharge my batteries. I also wished to spend some special time with my family.
A few of you may be aware that a hobby of mine is macro photography. This means that I take pictures of very tiny things, like butterflies, bees and ladybugs. Some of these photographs have been displayed in art galleries in Moses Lake, Port Townsend, and Twisp. So I take this quite seriously.
Did you know that the southern tip of San Juan Island is the home of a rare insect called the Island Marble Butterfly? On this subject, I have been corresponding with U.S. National Park Service Biologist, Jenny Shrum, who is working to keep this species from becoming extinct.
Jenny has shared with me that most of the butterfly’s breeding and feeding grounds are contained behind fencing and are off-limits. So any attempt to photograph this little critter needs to be done in other areas (which they seldom inhabit). What this means is that achieving my goal is unlikely and would be nothing short of a miracle.
Tell me, should I pray, using Jesus’ name to overcome the odds and provide me with what I desire? After all, it does say he would do anything for me, right?
Here’s the thing on that: Jesus said this not long after he had washed the disciple’s feet. In doing so, he set an example of serving the other and loving one another. So, the tone was not about selfish gain, it was about glorifying God through one’s loving actions.
The context of John 14: 13 is that the disciples were called to do the works that Jesus would do, aided in any way to achieve these tasks.
Oh well, if I should be fortunate enough to get that rare photograph, it won’t be because I prayed in Jesus’ name. Jesus never intended his statement to be taken out of context and used as a wishing well.
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 30 years.