Thursday, April 16, 2015


Jesus makes a staggering promise to do what we ask in John 14:13-14. "Whatever (ο τι αν) you ask in my name that I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything (εαν τι) in my name, I will do it." Will Jesus do anything we ask? What if I ask for the opposite of what you ask? Will He do what I ask or what you ask?

Jesus does not actually promise to do anything I ask Him to do. What He promises to do is whatever I ask as long as what I ask meets two criteria in this verse. The basis of my request must be "in Jesus name" (εν τω ονοματι). The purpose of my request must be to glorify the Father through the Son's answer (ινα δοξασθη). When I align my request with His basis and His purpose, He will do whatever I ask, but He does not promise to do what does not align with His basis and His purpose.

The basis for my request must always be "in Jesus name." Many suggest that prayer in Jesus name means on the merits of what Jesus has accomplished for us.  However, the same phrase is used in John 14:26 where the Father will send the Holy Spirit "in my name" (εν τω ονοματι). Does the Father send the Holy Spirit on the merits of what Jesus has done for us?  Perhaps, but I think there is a better sense for the phrase.

The better understanding of asking in Jesus name is that we are asking God to do something on the basis that Jesus is our representative before the Father. The Father sends the Holy Spirit to us on the basis that Jesus represents us to the Father. Jesus is in the Father. We are in Jesus, and Jesus is in us (John 14:20). Because of that representative relationship we can ask whatever we want. Prayer "in Jesus name" is not a magic formula but the expression of an intimate union with Jesus.  Our union with Him frames our request to Him. Whatever we ask will be aligned with whatever He wants because we enjoy an intimate friendship with Him.

The purpose of our request is the glory of God. We ask whatever we want in order to see the Father glorified in the Son when the Son answers our request. We don't pray for our wants but for His honor. Our requests must be aligned with His glory or the promise is mitigated.  When we are so in tune with Jesus that what we want most glorifies the Son, then we can ask whatever we want, and He will do it for us.

The closer I am to Jesus; the more intimately I know Him; the more likely I am to ask for what He most wants to do just like any love relationship. The more I seek what will honor Him, the more He seeks to do what I ask. Sadly, and all too often, what I ask for uses Him to meet my goals instead of to seek His glory. Prayer is a request between close friends not a requisition from a business partner.

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