The following is a response to a question given to me by a high school student this week. I thought it was a good question and fitting with the current Sunday Series. The question, “If I pray for something in Jesus’ name shouldn’t I expect it to happen based on John 14:13?”
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. – John 14:13
You pose a question that many people have asked and continue to ask. This is one of those examples in Scripture where people get confused in the wording. When they translate words from Greek to English, the meaning is not as clear all the time.
In John 14, Jesus is talking with the disciples, essentially getting them ready for His departure. They were not too thrilled and needed some reassurance. Jesus explains to them that they will be together again. He describes for them the place He is going and how they are to get there. (through Him) It is in that context that Jesus describes the work to be done through them.
Verse 13 and 14 is what you specifically asked about, so I will not fully exegete this passage. Verse 13 — the key to this is actually in the word “name.” In English a name can be given to anything and people even change their name in life. The name in this sense is the very character and authority of God in a tangible way. To say that we are asking something in the name of Jesus is that we are asking of it by the power of the Lord, not by just invoking His name. We are appealing to the very person of Jesus Christ, not just throwing His name around.
This does not give anyone blanket authority to just say Jesus in any circumstance, no matter how good it might seem, and assume it will then be as asked. We ask in full dependence of God, trusting Him to act according to His plan for His glory and our good. Does that always mean cancer is healed? No. Why? It is not always clear, but someday it will make sense. When, as Chris Tomlin puts it in one of his songs, “our faith shall be our eyes” and we see Jesus in all His glory.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“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
Why do we pray? Prayer brings us closer to God and God desires that we communicate with Him. He also chooses to use us as a part of His work. There are times when it is apparent that it is God’s will for His people to pray for someone in order for the healing or work to take place. There are times that it perhaps is God’s will, but people aren’t asking. These things are mysterious to us for sure. But, we know God sees the whole plan and has our best interest in mind. If He didn’t, He would not have died for us.
I trust that you will have a wonderful Lord’s Day!