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What Are We Asking?

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You do not know what you are asking.

How many times do we do this? Fall on our knees, beg for our prayers to be answered, plead with the Almighty for the deepest desire of our hearts?

And secretly we’re saying, I know what’s best for me, God. So please hurry up and give it to me.

Picture this poor mom of the sons of Zebedee. She wants what every other parent wants: good things for her children. She wants to know that they’ll be taken care of, and she wants to trust that they will earn their reward for the risk of following Christ.

I know what’s best for my boys, Lord. To sit at your right hand and your left, in your kingdom.

Now picture Jesus. He loves these Zebedee boys. He loves their mother, too. Part of His loyal band, eager to follow Him wherever he goes. But none of them have any clue what comes next.

He knows what lies ahead and what He will become: betrayed, abandoned, scorned, humiliated, tortured and executed. All of that is the cup she wants her sons to drink?

You do not know what you are asking.

What are we praying for this Lent? To draw closer to Him—the one murdered by the powers that be? The one whose followers are martyred? The one who preached shocking love and radical forgiveness and impractical peace?

We do not know what we are asking, to drink of His cup. At the very least, we will forced to reexamine everything we knew. At the very most, we will be completely transformed.

Jesus, who is Compassion Incarnate, does not scoff at this dear mother wanting good for her sons. He does not tell her that her prayer is foolish or misguided. He holds our prayers in loving hands, too, knowing that they come from hearts of faith.

But He reminds us, as He reminded her, that we do not always know what we are asking when we approach Him in prayer. We must remember that this Lenten journey will surprise us, too—maybe even turn our lives upside down—if we truly seek to drink of His cup.

Today let us pray as Jesus taught us. That not our will, but God’s, be done. That our lives will be changed beyond our wildest dreaming. That our prayers will be answered beyond what we think we are asking.

Laura Kelly Fanucci is a mother, writer, and theological researcher. She and her husband are raising three little boys in the suburban wilds of Minnesota. You can find out more about her here.

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