I prayed for it in Jesus’ name, shouldn’t I expect it?

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

Source: Public Domain

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!



  1. That may be so but I regularly hear religious people use that quotes and others like to claim he will answer all your prayers. Seems like playing both sides. If you pray and it works, God exists. If you pray and it doesnt work, you’re asking too much, and God still exists.

    1. God does answer all prayers.

      If a little kid asks his mother for a butcher knife, would she give it to him? No, of course not. Sometimes, just as a parent tells a child that no, he can’t have a butcher knife, God tells us no as well. The reasons might be beyond our understanding, but that does not mean those reasons don’t exist.

      Just because you prayed in “Jesus’ name” does not mean God will say yes to every prayer, or cure every sick person, or fill your pockets with gold.

      If you think about it, sometimes it makes more sense for God to say no, than it does to say yes. To steal a scene from a movie, if God granted every prayer that asked for a winning lottery ticket, then everyone would win a dollar or two. What would be the point?

      We do not understand all the ways or thoughts of God, and having faith is not always easy. But most of already know that the best things in life are not free, nor do they always come easy.


      1. There is a mystery to a lot of things and that is alright with me. I trust God, the giver of good gifts. He knows me better than I know myself and knows what it is that I actually need. It might be that I think I need something that I really don’t. This is why Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “thy will be done.” Above all we pray for God’s will to be done. That might mean I don’t get what I ask for and that is okay.

    2. If there are people playing both sides like that, then I see your point here. However, I am not doing that, so it is unclear why you make that claim. This post is with the assumption that God exists. I am not trying to prove His existence. The point was to simply help clarify a passage in John that I was asked about this week. I also responded to your other comment, which did deal with this topic. Thanks for your comments today.

  2. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

    There are numerous quotes from Jesus saying ask anything in prayer and it will be answered. The last time I properly prayed was when my uncle was in hospital. He died less than a week later. He was only in his 50’s. I’m sure that if he had recovered it would be seen as unmistakable proof of the power of prayer.

    1. There are numerous quotes, yes, but as I said it does not mean that adding “in Jesus name” to a prayer means it will happen. I never made the statement that you have claimed here.

      The Matthew 7 is telling us to ask for something. If you put that verse in context you will see that it does not declare you to be able to demand anything of God. If you ask God for something, even if you think it is the right thing, it might not be what is needed. (see verse 9-11) God knows how to give good gifts. That is what eternal life is all about. Jesus Christ is the ultimate good gift. In Jesus is the answer to death and suffering. He suffered and died. He rose again and offers life to anyone who would receive it.

      I know someone right now who has had cancer for over a year, he is 16 years old. Does his cancer prove that God does not exist? No. Many people are praying for him and he has not gotten better. Does that mean God is not answering his prayer? No. The reason lies in that Matthew text and in other areas of Scripture that deal with the person and sovereign nature of God. There is a lot we don’t understand. That is ok because faith requires that we don’t understand it all. We have the Bible, which holds up historically by the way, and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

      Thank you for your comments here. I appreciate the dialogue on this. It is an important topic.

      1. I know there were many people praying for my husband as he died of cancer. Although he did die, it did something quite good. It got together a group who otherwise would never have known one another in God’s name and closer to Him. Sometimes, what is best for one sheep is not what is best for the flock.

  3. Yes He does. Prayer often becomes somewhat of a “Dear Santa” list instead of a mutual conversation with our God. Love what Anne Marie added there “sometimes what is best for one sheep is not what is best for the flock.” He always has a purpose and our good in mind.

    1. I saw a skit the Skit Guys did about that one time. It was on the different ways we pray. One of the scenes was him reading off his list to God and the concluding “well, you can read, so here you go God.” That can be how it is for believers and why so many miss out on a close relationship with God.

      1. Very true! I think that’s one of the fundamental misunderstandings that keeps new Christians (and old ones) from growing in their relationship with God. Hmmmm, fodder for a blog post 🙂

  4. God always answers but it’s not always yes. I had a very hard time realizing this but Psalm 37:4 helped me a lot “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” God wants great things for us but as humans we are so narrow minded and miss out on the awesomeness God has for us!! His “no” may bring others close to him or let unbelievers see him for the first time, not getting something that we desperately want is SO VERY MUCH worth someone finding Jesus!! Thank you for the post 🙂

    1. The “desires of your heart” verse is often used incorrectly also. Our human mind can be so narrow on what that actually means. Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” If we consider the love God has for us and all that He has done for us, of course we can trust Him with everything else. Perspective is needed when things don’t go as planned. In it all, God is never surprised and always right on time.

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