“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.”
That Snarky Guy At Work
There was a guy at work who used to love to make fun of this verse. He’d say out loud within earshot of his Christian coworkers, “‘Ask anything and I’ll do it,’ Jesus said. So ask for a corvette. Or ask for a million dollars and let’s see if God answers.”
That used to make me wonder about this passage. But as is so often the case, after I read more of the Bible and understood the context, it made sense.
Asking In The Name Of Kurt And Kathy
In Jesus’ time, in Jesus’ culture, someone’s name or asking in someone’s name had meaning beyond just a label on a person. In Jesus’ time someone’s name wasn’t just an identifier, it also spoke of the nature of that person and what that person was about.
So it’s like this: Kathy and I used to own a beautiful vacation rental on a golf course near Yosemite National Park. If either of my sons Gabe or Nate stopped by and asked, in the name of Kurt or Kathy, if they could use the hot tub, or spend the night, or take the mountain bikes out for a spin, or even pull weeds, or paint the garage, or clean the gutters, we would say, yes, of course you can. But if they asked for something inconsistent with my name, or Kathy’s name, if they asked if they could take their off road vehicle out on the golf course, or load up all the fishing gear and take it home for themselves, or help themselves to the neighbor’s vegetable garden, of course we wouldn’t grant those requests.
So requests from my kids that are consistent with who I am, and requests from my kids that move the vacation rental in a good direction are gladly granted. Also, because Gabe and Nate are my sons, their interests are the same as my interests. They want what I want, they want to see the vacation rental do well, they’re desires are aligned with mine which makes me inclined to say yes to their requests.
The Effect Of Abiding On The Effectiveness Of Prayer
Jesus’ statement at the top of this post was made in John 14, but later in John 15 Jesus elaborates on this idea that whatever we ask in his name, this will he do so “the Father may be glorified in the Son.” He says in John 15:7 that a person can ask whatever they wish, if, that person abides in Jesus and Jesus’ words abide in that person.
Jesus made the statement in the passage at the beginning of our post shortly after Judas left to consummate his betrayal of Jesus. (John 13:30) So the disciples remaining were true believers. Jesus was speaking to those who were genuinely abiding in Jesus as described in John 15:7.
The people I observe who are genuinely abiding in Jesus and have Jesus’ words abiding in them, they want what God wants. Their desires are the same as Jesus’ desires and the same as God’s desires. Their desire is to always do what pleases God even as Jesus always does what pleases God. (John 8:29) They have the same interests God has. And even when they do have their own desires, they’re subordinate to Christ’s desires “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)
David said it this way,
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
People who delight in the Lord find that the desires of their heart are no longer merely the natural appetites of humanity. “As they delight in the Lord — in the hallowing of his name and the seeking of his kingdom and the doing of his will — their desires are transformed.” The song they sing in life is sung in a higher key. (Piper)
These scriptures point to a person who is living in the Spirit and who has the words Jesus has spoken living inside of them and whose desires are born of the Spirit.
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”
–Jesus Christ, John 6:63
Abiding in Jesus and Jesus’ words abiding in us transform us into people devoted to pleasing God and people desiring to see His name glorified.
Abide in him.
Go deep into Jesus.
Let Jesus’ words go deep into you.
I gladly acknowledge a debt to John Piper’s teaching Ask Whatever You Wish, Desiring God, January 10, 1993.