“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”  John 15:16–17

I remember when I first heard this passage as a young boy. My young faith was skeptical, but I really wanted to believe that it was true. I decided to test it and asked God for a dirt bike. I was careful to say, “In Jesus’ name, amen,” at the end of my prayer. I never got a dirt bike. This passage has been misunderstood by many. We may chuckle at my childish reading of the text, but we are still left to deal with what this text actually means. Is there a kind of praying that will genuinely give the prayer “whatever you ask?”

The operative phrase in the passage is that our prayer must be in alignment with the name of Jesus. In other words, prayers that are in alignment with the character of Jesus will be answered with a unique power. Prayer is not a lever that we wield to accomplish our goals, it is a connection to the king and the kingdom. We are aligning ourselves with God’s goals for the world.

I have also found that I tend to hear God’s voice more clearly when I have a posture of obedience. In other words, when I intend to obey what he says, I hear more clearly. Often when I pray specific prayers for guidance and wisdom, I’ll add a phrase that reminds me to take that posture. It goes like this, “what you say, I intend to obey.”

This week try praying differently, and see if you get a stronger sense of his voice. Ask yourself if your prayers align with the character of Jesus. If you are not sure, ask the spirit to help you pray in alignment. You can also ask yourself if you are willing to obey whatever you hear from him. That posture is an attitude of true listening. Perhaps you might hear God’s voice.