“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7)
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” (John 15:16)
“In Jesus’ name”? What does that mean?
I think there’s more than just a casual response possible to that question. We pray it so often that I wonder if we have forgotten – or ever knew – what it means.
For one thing, using that invocation indicates faith in King Jesus and in the God of the Bible.
Also, it is an “authorized appeal”: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)
But I don’t think it’s that simple. There are some restrictions. Suppose your hyper-rich uncle, who owns a couple dozen oil wells, whom you work for, handed you his VISA card and told you, “Here’s a job I want you to do. Take this card and get the job done. Whatever materials or equipment you need, whatever manpower you need to hire, use this card and get the job done.”
You would be wise not to use that card to pay for that Olympic-size swimming pool you’ve always wanted, or a Ferrari 488 GTB, which you just read the review of in Motor Trend Magazine. Uncle might become peeved and ship you in a small box to Ulan Bator.
In other words, there is a purpose for the loan of the VISA card, and it’s not for you to buy new toys with. At least, not always and probably not often.
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:3)
Look again at part of the quote above from John 14: “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
(I started to explain the meaning of “glorifying God”, because in the past it was hard for me to accept that, but it turned into another article for another day. For now, substitute the word “honoring”, and it will make more sense, and for some of us, it will be easy to accept and agree with, whereas “glorifying God” sounds strange and egotistical on God’s part to some.)
It seems apparent to me that if we ask for something which would not bring glory to God the Father and / or the Son, our request may not be granted, unless God knows that it’s for our good and decides for that reason to give us what we ask for. Or unless He’s just giving us a gift to remind us of His love for us, which He sometimes does. Frequently, in my experience.
It seems to me that if I win the lottery, I could bring honor to God by spending most of the money in ways that honor Him. But so far, God hasn’t agreed with me on that.
In fact, millions of dollars might get in the way of something God is accomplishing in my life or others’ lives.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Being a normal selfish human, I hate saying this, but it’s not all about us. Every Christian has the right to desire his or her own rewards, but rewards from God are often not given out in this life. And they sometimes have to be earned by passing through a white-hot fire, one way or another. Sutherland Springs Baptist Church.
So OK. One restriction on the apparently unlimited promise King Jesus made (and He said this more than once) is the purpose of our request. If our request is honestly intended to honor God and Jesus, there’s a greater chance that it will be granted.
Isaiah recorded another restriction:
“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:1-3) There follows a list of serious sins that sound remarkably like America today: ” … rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, inciting revolt and oppression, uttering lies our hearts have conceived … Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey …”
Fairly obvious, isn’t it? If I’m living a pretty good imitation of Hugh Hefner or some cold-blooded moneysucker in the business world, I can forget about God granting my requests. If I want my prayers to even be heard by God, I need to be making a serious effort toward purity. Holiness.
Part of the Lord’s prayer: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Jesus’ final prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Not My will, but Yours, be done.”
Ouch and double ugh. You mean that God’s will for me could be … crucifixion?
“Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two***, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Hebrews 11:35-38)
Still happening, this time via the overwhelming muslim invasion of every Western country:
Is this what God is saying to us? Do I have what it takes to pray “in Jesus’ name”, “Thy will be done”, if what’s coming is … the link above, the Scripture above?
Two songs that were recently posted here and are worth thinking about deeply…
What, then, is God’s will? American Christians have had it so easy for so long that we have a hard time identifying with believers in other parts of the world, or in other times in history.
Prayer is not primarily a request channel for our pleasure, comfort, or safety: “Resist [the devil], firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brothers throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1st Peter 5:9-10)
I’ve been saying for at least several years that a Christian can’t pray in God’s will for God to bless America. As a nation, America has become hostile to God. So what can I pray “in Jesus’ name” for myself, my friends, and my nation now?
I have to admit, praying for the just Judgment that America deserves was a lot easier when I wasn’t looking it in the face and wondering if it was going to sink its bloody fangs into me too, like maybe next week, or tomorrow.
My part of this article ends here. It’s time now for your part. Your thoughts, your insight and wisdom, your hopes, your fears.
Because God gives every one of us something to contribute to other believers in Jesus, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ ” (1st Corinthians 12:14-21)