There have been petitions I made in which I worked out everything and presented it to God. Thankfully, in His infinite wisdom God either did not answer the prayer or answered it differently than what I had laid out before Him.
Mark tells us that James and John came to Jesus with the request that He would give them whatever they desired. Matthew, in relating this same experience, said the request was made through their mother. Perhaps they thought He would be more receptive if she spoke for them.
Whatever their reasoning, Jesus addressed them directly when He asked, “What would ye that I should do for you?” James and John said they wanted to occupy places of honor with Him in heaven, but Jesus said they did not understand what they asked of Him.
Remember, Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you.” Why would He halt at the request of James and John when He tells us to be bold in prayer? How do we understand, then, the way in which we should pray?
Our prayers fall more into line with the Lord’s will as our relationship with Him matures. We trust that whatever He has in store for us is better than anything we could imagine for ourselves, and we know He is wise in the provision of gifts.
The places of honor they requested were not Christ’s to give. Perhaps such positions do not exist in His kingdom. At any rate, everyone who suffers for Christ Jesus will be rewarded in the way He knows is best.
The other disciples were displeased when they heard the request of James and John, and Jesus used this as an opportunity to teach a lesson. Following Jesus is not about looking for a position of authority.
The great people among the followers of Christ Jesus are those who minister to the needs of other people.
The world admires power and the people who hold power. In fact, it would seem strange if we ask a high school student, “What do you want to do after you graduate from high school?” and that student replies that he wants to be a servant.
The world naturally expects people to have at least some control over their lives and their futures.
Jesus taught that His followers are not to follow after the world’s thinking. He is our great example. The Lord did not come to be ministered to by people. Instead, He came to minister to mankind, giving up His life on the cross.
Pray to the One who “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” to give to give us a spirit of servanthood.
— The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. firstname.lastname@example.org.