“Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” John 14:13-14
These verses have been abused by some with the result that they have been led to believe that Christianity doesn’t work. When we read them it is important to read them in their context but also to read every word. There is a qualifier and the desired outcome given so that we might not misunderstand the limitations that apply to the invitation to come to the Father with our requests that carry a guaranteed positive response.
We are invited to pray always and in all situations and for everything but we are not given blanket assurance of a positive response.
The qualifier is “in my name.” After all, I am a child of God. No father who loves his child would give his child everything that they ask because some of their requests might result in harm.
Some years ago I was employed by a company that gave me the right to sign cheques up to a certain value without a second signature. However, there were limitations given not only in value but also the need to comply with procedures and instructions. It was not my money and it was not my name on the cheque. I was under delegated authority and I was required to act within the authority given.
In a similar way, when Jesus says “ask anything in My name”, He is saying that we must have authority from Him for the specific request, and we must abide by the limitations He has imposed if we are to have assurance of a positive outcome. When we fulfil the requirements He will do it. The outcome will be that “the Father [is] glorified in the Son.”
We see an example of this kind of delegated authority in 1 Samuel 25 when David sent men to the foolish Nabal. “David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, ‘Go up to Carmel, go to Nabal, and greet him in my name’” (v 5). “So when David’s young men came, they spoke to Nabal according to all these words in the name of David, and waited” (v 9).
The young men only had authority to speak the words that David had given them. They were acting in his name under his authority.
While we readily see that there are limitations, we can also see that there is a huge scope for prayer. The scope is revealed in the Bible – we need to read and soak it up in order to know the multitude of things for which we may ask that are according to the will of God and therefore have an assurance of a positive response.
We could pray in accord with 2 Peter 3:9 or with the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 1:15-23 and many other prayers and invitations to pray. If it is in the revealed will of God we may ask with confidence of receiving that for which we ask (1 John 5:16).
By all means, pray with regard to everything – and in everything give thanks – because God wants to commune with us and He does answer prayer. In God’s grace he has revealed some matters for which we may pray and have an assurance of His positive response. That will encourage us to pray such prayers.