On the Gospel reading (1 John 3:22–4:6) begins with a promise that seems too good to be true: “We receive from God whatever we ask….” The rest of the sentence explains why this is true: “Because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”

Many people think that the reason why prayers don’t get answered is because we don’t ask rightly — we don’t pray enough novenas or we don’t use the right words. But God’s Word says it’s because we don’t live rightly: “We should believe in the name of Jesus, ….”

What does believing in Jesus mean? “Love one another as he commanded us.”

To receive whatever we ask for, we must remain in God, and he in us. That means being an open, holy vessel of the Lord. If we live in true union with God, then whatever we desire — whatever we ask for — already came from God in the first place.

We maintain this unity by loving one another the way he loves us. When we finish our prayers by making the sign of the cross and speaking the words “in the name of Jesus, amen”, it should mean that we are praying in the completeness of who Jesus is. Therefore, remaining in God means that whatever we ask for is also in God — it’s already in his desires and in his plans.

Praying “in the name of Jesus, amen” is not an “abbra-cadabbra” magic phrase as if that could make our wishes come true. Rather, it’s a commitment of unity.

© 2016 by Terry A. Modica

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