Scripture Reading: John 14:13-14: And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Jesus spoke these words to his disciples while at the Last Supper. Jesus had already washed his disciples’ feet in order to given them a lesson in humility and to set an example of selfless service. Then Jesus predicts his betrayal by Judas Iscariot and Peter’s denial of Jesus. After this, Jesus begins to comfort his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1). “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). And then Jesus says, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father” (John 14:13).
Many of us read this passage from the Gospel of John and we think that we have a blank check to ask for anything from Jesus. We stop reading before we finish verse 13. We read: And I will do whatever you ask. Most of us know that it doesn’t work that way, we just ask Jesus for anything, and he will give us whatever it is that we asked for. We fail to finish the verse by reading and understanding the phrase, “in my name.” We know that we can’t control or manipulate God by praying for whatever we want, for our own satisfaction. However, we all pray those kinds of prayers often.
We can all think of prayers that does not bring glory to God.
- God, help me to win this reality TV show and the million dollar prize
- God, I need a new car, a new house, and some new electronic devices
- God, my neighbor is always bragging about what he has. How about causing him to “lose” some of his possessions so that he is not so high and mighty anymore
What does it mean to “ask in my (Jesus’) name? It doesn’t imply that if we simply mention the name of Jesus that our prayers will be answered. It is prayer that is focused on carrying out the will of Jesus and of God. If we are asking in the name of Jesus, we are asking for help in continuing and expanding the ministry of Christ. We are seeking to help others and to love others and to make a difference in the community and world that we live in.
Last week my telephone rang just as we were getting ready to go out and eat. It was the local hospital in Athens where I serve as an on-call Chaplain. I did not realize until the phone rang that it was my week to be on call. I answered the phone and was told immediately that I was needed at the hospital. The nurse in charge told me that it was someone who was on suicide watch and they were asking for a minister to pray with them.
As I drove over to the hospital, I remember praying to God for the words and the strength that I would need in this difficult situation. I would be going in with very few details and even less time to prepare, so I just prayed that God would help me to represent Him in a caring and professional way. I prayed for God to give me the words to speak.
I talked with the patient for about ten minutes and then I was asked to pray with this person. I began to pray and I really don’t remember all that I prayed for. It was one of those moments where I could feel the Holy Spirit taking over and giving me the words to say. When I finished, this person thanked me for the prayer and told me that they felt a sense of peace come over them.
I drove back home thinking about what had just happened. I continue to be amazed at how God can give us the words that need to be said in difficult circumstances. Jesus said, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it (John 14:13-14).