Image credit: Ian Greig

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. If you love me, keep My commands.    John 14:13-15 NIV

“Whatever you ask….”

IT’S TEMPTING to dismiss this before engaging with it. Or to trivialise it by praying for a lottery win or a sports result. But let’s slow down… and see this for what it is. A promise of Scripture… and a clear promise of God’s Son, Jesus. What He says is what He says.

What is the context? Jesus has been drawing His disciples out on the question of who He is1. So Philip’s lesson is that seeing Jesus is like being able to set eyes on the Father. He is also “the way” — the one way we can access to the Father.

Religions and philosophies (including the Christian church variants) put forward their own suggestions of paths to God and these have similar requirements: combining correct observance of prescribed worship, obedience or pilgrimage, participation in rites or ordinances, and living charitably and sharing wealth. Worthy objectives — but this is not the path that Christ set out for us. Yes, He did teach living unselfishly and imitating His unconditional love, but *not* as a means to salvation. Rather, the result of it.

The Good News — and what it isn’t

All religious redemption is based on us doing, or performing, or going without, something for God. Faith in good works is the opposite of faith in Jesus and the gospel. The Good News of Jesus and His kingdom is all about who He is and what He has done. The way, the truth and the life that Jesus spoke about — using the divine name I AM — is about whether or not we believe the reality, or truth, of who Jesus is, and receiving and trusting in Him for rebirth into life with a renewed spiritual dimension — a life that continues into eternity in fellowship with Him.

So the promise “Whatever you ask in My name” is about Jesus and His kingdom. AskingTo keep the context the same, we are asking for what brings His rule and reign and justice. Our personal needs, important to the Lord who loves us, have to be submitted to that greater purpose.

So what about those “difficult” questions about physical and emotional healing? What about material things?

Keeping a focus on the kingdom

All our needs are on God’s heart and part of His concern — as part of His desire to bring the just and fair rule and order of His kingdom. This brings with it a general prosperity or “well-doing”, of spirit, soul, body and our situation.

Why do we not see dramatic and visible healing in the way recorded about Jesus’ ministry in the gospels? The answer is we do, but not as repeatably or often! When Jesus in person drew near to a person, the kingdom of God drew near — and justice of the kingdom with it. There was an intensity of the presence of Jesus — as you would expect with the visible person of Jesus present.

Intensity of presence

Today, Jesus is seated in the heavenly places. However, where much prayer has been invested in a gathering, there can be an intensity of the Holy Spirit presence of Jesus. The kingdom draws near, and the signs of the kingdom, healing among them are manifested. By contrast, the routine reading out of names week after week in formal church service intercession may not have that preparation of the Holy Spirit of Jesus, and may not be shared with a level of expectation and faith as our human counterpart.

The Lord will meet us in our “asking” prayer, but first things first — our “praise prayer” acknowledging Him as king of His kingdom is a necessary approach. So is our general awareness of His kingdom purpose, and our wanting, most of all, His rule and reign in our hearts and communities: not just coming to Him for our need of the moment to be met.

If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door, you will not find Him in the chalice. — St. John Chrysostom (lived 347-407)

 Summary

“Ask me for anything” invites the equal and opposite follies of asking God for what is inappropriate, and not asking for what tests our faith. The context of the verse helps us find the balance — Christ is drawing out from His disciples who He is. He alone is the way into the kingdom — and that kingdom life and kingdom order meets everyone’s needs, your personal ones included.

For a prayer linked to this verse, see glowweobley.com on this page

  1. John 14:6-14 []
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