Shortly after Solomon became King over Israel, “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’” (1 Kings 3:5) This almost sounds like Aladdin’s genie offering him three wishes. If Almighty God asked us that question our minds would explode with the possibilities!
But here was Solomon’s response, “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give Your servant a discerning heart to govern Your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:8-9)
By his own admission, Solomon was still a young man— “a little child”—and yet he asked for wisdom and discernment to govern the people. This is remarkable considering the power, wealth, and prestige that typically came with kingship.
To my knowledge, this is the only recorded time that the Lord made this offer to anyone. Based on the context, I believe the Lord’s offer was both a blessing and a test. Here’s how the Lord responded to Solomon, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.” (1 Kings 3:11-12)
What if the Lord appeared to you in a dream tonight and said, “Tell me whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you”? What would you ask for?
Above, I said that I think this is the only recorded instance in which the Lord made this offer to anyone. But that’s not exactly accurate. For in John 14:14, Jesus said to His disciples (and to us), “You may ask Me for anything in My name and I will do it.” This offer sounds very similar to the one He made to Solomon. At face value, it feels like a blank-check promise.
If we believe that Jesus’ words here apply to us today as His present-day disciples (and we do), then it appears that He is making the same offer to us that He made to Solomon. So, what will you ask for?
You and I are probably thinking the same thing right now… “What Jesus said can’t possibly be an open-ended, blank-check offer!” So, how are we to take it? First, we understand that Jesus is not a genie offering us three wishes. We must not take His offer frivolously or greedily. He’s not suggesting that we ask Him to help us win the lottery! So, how do we understand this?
In the context of John 14, Jesus explains that He is “in His Father” and His Father is “in Him.” This is intimate familial relationship. Then, a bit further on in this chapter, Jesus said He would send us His Holy Spirit to be with us forever. Now, with His Spirit living in us, we are “in Him” and He is “in us” too. Within this context of intimate relationship, Jesus explained that He did the works of the Father and that we would do the works that Jesus did (i.e., the works of the Father also).
When young Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom and discernment, the Scripture says, “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.” (1 Kings 3:10) In the same way, because we are in Him and He is in us, we want to please the Lord in what we ask for.
I believe that Jesus’ offer, “You may ask Me for anything in My name and I will do it,” still stands and that He meant what He said. But as His followers, if we love Him, like Solomon, we want to ask Him for things that will please Him and glorify Him.
So, what kinds of things fit those qualifications? (Keep in mind that God is our loving heavenly Father and He invites us to ask Him for things that are not necessarily “super spiritual” in our eyes.) The Scriptures give us many examples of what we can and should ask for:
- Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus said, “This is then how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”
- Matthew 9:37-38, “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.’” (It’s notable that right after this prayer, Jesus sent His disciples out into the “harvest.”)
- Matthew 26:39, Jesus prayed to the Father, “Not My will, but Your will be done.”
- Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
- James 5:16, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
And there are many other similar examples of things for us to pray for that please the Lord. Jesus still extends His offer to us today, “You may ask Me for anything in My name and I will do it.” So, what will you ask for today? What will please and glorify Him?