it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:16
I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13
Our Gospel for Pentecost contains one of Jesus' promises that has caused many of us to teeter on the brink of doubt when we feel that our prayers have not been answered. "I prayed that I wouldn't lose my job", "I prayed that she would get better"....and then those things didn't happen. But didn't Jesus say.....
There are many places where Jesus reminds us that we are children of God, and in talking to his apostles–grown men, rough, tough fishermen–he even addressed them on occasion as one would speak to children. This has often led me to think about how my understanding of God and God's works and ways is really like that of a child trying to understand our world–using my equivalent of knowing my ABCs and counting to 10 as the way to make sense of something that's much bigger. I think of how my nieces and nephews, when they were small children, would explain to me how things in the world worked–their understanding and interpretations were based on the experiences and tools they had developed in their few years. When I come upon something that makes me pause, like Jesus promise in the Gospel, I stop to think that maybe there is a different way to think about it than from my "child" perspective.
Mary Hinkle Shore from Luther Seminary in Minnesota, commented on this Gospel:
Andrew H. Wakefield (a professor at Campbell University Divinity School) suggests that the parent/child relationship offers an analogy for what Jesus is promising here.
"If we extend the analogy just a little, we may be able to think of these promises as the same sort of hyperbole that parents use when they tell a child, "I would do anything for you!" The child may say, "Really? Then I want a tattoo; I want a pet elephant; I want a Ferrari!" The child has missed the point. The hyperbole shows the parent's infinite love for the child, a love that will seek the good of the child even above the parent's own good.... The hyperbole is a way of expressing the intimate relationship between loving parent and child—and that relationship is not simply about giving and receiving."
This promise is neither a blank check nor an invitation to blame one's own ineptitude at prayer in the name of Jesus when such prayers go apparently unanswered. Instead, this promise is part of Jesus' assurance that he will not leave his own orphaned. Through the Spirit, the other Advocate, Jesus will keep working as he has so far, in ways that reveal God's great and abiding love for them.
It's hard for me, as a child, to understand why that job was lost or why the illness wasn't cured, after I prayed. But I trust that God, as my loving parent, will not leave me comfortless. I will still turn to be enfolded in God's arms, knowing that God understands my needs far better than I do.