May he grant you your heart’s desire
and fulfill all your plans!
May we shout for joy over your salvation,
and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions! (Psalm 20:4-5, ESV)
Many people hold closely to verses like this in the Bible, despite the chapters that tell a different story. There are many, many people over the years that have prayed to God expecting them to give them what they want, when the very things they desire are ungodly. But, the idea that you can force God to do things still persists. The problem with this mentality where you can command God to give you good things because there are statements like this in the Bible is that there are conditions on everything. God doesn’t grant all of my desires, because many of my desires are wicked. God doesn’t fulfill all of my plans because some of my plans are bad for me and worse for others. I don’t even want to imagine what it would be like if God did everything that said when I spouted off in anger at someone because my pride was hurt or because I was just in a crappy mood.
So the focus changes then, and people who use text like this for their “life verse” (For the atheists, a life verse is a cherry picked verse that you have chosen to model your life around which is usually pulled from all context so it makes sense for your specific needs at the time) tend to use this as a spring board to statements like “God wants everyone to be happy and healthy and wealthy”. Well, if everyone were happy then “happiness” would cease to exist and we’d just have varying levels of joy and those who had more joy than others would be envied by those who have less and it would fall back into the same scenario. Same with health, I’ve grown closer to God through my own illnesses and the illness of others that I love so I wouldn’t give that up for anything in the world. Lastly, and this is a big point for our government, if everyone is wealthy we still fall back into the same scenario with the “happiness” mentioned a second ago, but with more fighting. Money isn’t the way to fix all the problems in the world. A heart change is. Once you are content with what you have you don’t want anything else and you can begin to pay down your bills.
Finally, finishing any prayer “In Jesus’ Name” is not the fix for everything. I’ve heard over and over when I was a kid that “prayers don’t exit the ceiling if you don’t pray ‘In Jesus’ Name'”. That isn’t a secret code word to make it work and it’s not the way to force God’s hand to your will. It’s not like God is up and heaven listening to your prayer and he says, “Well, I know that you keep asking for a Porsche and I was initially going to say ‘no’ but you did say ‘In Jesus’ Name’ so I guess I’ll have to…”. The term “In Jesus’ Name” is a reference to the character and nature of God and a statement that you’re asking God to align your desires with those of His Son. Yes, the Bible states, “Whatever you ask in my name I will do” (Jn 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-27) but the term “name” means “in accordance with my desires and will”. If my son goes to the store and signs for something in my name he’s doing something that I’ve asked him to do and approved of. Asking God to do something that’s in conflict with His character and nature and then slapping “In Jesus’ Name” on it is like telling yourself “I’m a vegan” before you eat a 1lb steak just to soothe your own conscience.
If you’re going to ask anything of God, learn his character and nature and then ask things that are in accordance with what He’s likely to do. Read your Bible, seek to know him more, and he will convert your heart and your ideals to his plans and desires and once that happens then you He will grant every desire and fulfill all of your plans because you want the same things he does. I can’t say that I understand why God does everything he does, but what I do know is that he’s right in every situation, even in those where I’ve experienced the deepest emotional or physical pain. Glory to God alone.