You May Ask Me For Anything In My Name
John 14: 8 – 14
Paradoxes to the Christian prayer life are many: from attributing every seeming confluence of events that delight us as God answering our prayers as if He is impartial to our biases and prejudice, to having God take sides in determining an outcome of a football game or an election. Is God’s universal largesse at the mercy of our small mindedness in our severely restricted view of the future? After all, Jesus did say, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14). But does the verse mean what we claim it says?
The Scriptural context of the verse is within the framework of the Lord’s last supper with His disciples (John 13) and His betrayal by Judas (John 18), where the principal direction of His discourses was intent towards the preparation of the disciples for His imminent death. In fact, from its conversational tone, there appears to be a tinge of uncertainty and discouragement, as Jesus reassured them with His final instructions (John 14:1-5) through reaffirming His divine identity with His Father (John 14:9-13). To any Jewish follower, this synthesis of identity with God was anathema, but it was not the first occasion they had heard this from Him. Nevertheless, in this melancholic setting, He began to orientate them towards the new focus in the important Jewish discipline of prayer; namely, that they could ask Him for anything and He would do it, so that the Father may be glorified (John 14:13). Then He repeated it, just in case they misheard Him, “if you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”
What Jesus was teaching was incredulous, but they had to start learning as time with Him was running out. The categorical proviso for asking anything was to glorify His Father, and it seemed that is the only stipulation. And their requests were to be made only in His name (John 14:13-14). This astounding teaching was addressed again several times in this interregnum (John 14:26; 15:16; 16:23-24,26). It was critical that they knew He was not leaving them at the mercy of a nebulous deity after His ascension (whatever they may have construed that to mean), but there was going to be some continuity in His ineffable ministry, including that of the Holy Spirit. Invariably, it is this ‘greater works’ (John 14:12) that determined the latitude of the disciples’ prayer requests that He promised to fulfill. The assurance our Lord gave to His disciples implied His partnership and continued commitment to the ministry that He had appointed them to do in His physical absence, and that would certainly include what He had achieved with them multiplied many times over as they become His witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
To be praying along what would glorify the Father is to understand and know what the Father’s will is concerning this world and our existence, written in His Word. That realization and grasp was based on their ongoing relationship with their Lord in His oneness with His Father (John 10:30), and as they were one with Him and He in them, it makes much sense when they ask only what He would Himself ask in prayer (John 14:20-21). Therefore, with respect to John 14:14, the focus of prayer seeks for the continuation of what Jesus had commanded us to do to His Father’s glory knowingly and intently, in the context of our life and where He has placed us.