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Jesus, Blank Checks, and Getting a Clue: “Whatever You Ask in My Name” in John

bank check blank cropped typed outJohn 14:13 says “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do…”

I have to admit, I find this very exciting… No, dizzying! A Jet Ski! I’ve always wanted a Jet Ski and a house by a lake so that I can ride it around whenever I want. I used to want a sports car, now I just want a big boat of a thing… in truth, I’ve also never gotten over my childhood dreams of parking a glorious captains’ seat van next to my new sports car… (Now big boat of a thing). I want it to have a fold down bed in the back and plush carpeting on every square inch… and a pull down flat screen with a blue ray player attached… I had to add that last little ditty to my day dreams after they were invented. Not to worry though, my sugar plum dreams always keep up with technology.

Oh! How happy I am. It’s all mine for the asking, Jesus said it, and if he doesn’t do it, he’s a liar. Let’s see him just try to stiff me. I dare him to try to weasel out of it.

The only thing really standing in my way is my faith. Mark 11:24  says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” So, I’ve got to really muster belief, pump myself up, get the old imagination flying, visualize myself in that lake on that Jet Ski, in the shadow of that house, looking over at the van and real humdinger of a big car.

Yes, faith is standing in my way… well, faith and the fact that this is a complete abuse and misinterpretation not only of passages like these but also of everything Jesus ever said or did in this world. Do we really imagine that God intends to advance his kingdom by plying the greed and self-interest of his disciples?

For the sake of setting the stage, let’s limit ourselves to the six “ask in my name” passages in John.

In John 14, the context of the promises regards the disciples’ replication of the works of Jesus through their faith, love, & commitment to him. Just as Jesus does what he sees the father doing…

  • John 5:19 “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
  • John 5:43 “I have come in my father’s name”
  • John 10:25 “…the works that I do in my father’s name bear witness about me.”

…the disciples will do what they “see” Jesus doing, informed by the Holy Spirit, praying to this end. The goal of this promise is the glorification of the Father through the son. The disciples are envisioned as extensions of Jesus in the world through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, in John 14:12-14  “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. In 14:26, he goes on, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

In John 15, the promises are specifically curtailed to prayer fulfilling the will of the Father and Son through an abiding relationship which bears fruit glorifying the father. Jesus says in John 15:7-8 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.8  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” He goes on in John 15:16  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

Finally, in John 16, when persecution comes, they will be asking directly of the father in keeping with what the Spirit reveals to them of Jesus. The asking is in keeping with what each reveals of the others (Father, Son & Spirit) to the disciples, working itself out for the everlasting joy of the disciples who are working in the world in Jesus’ name.

To do something in Jesus’ name does not mean tagging on a magic incantation at the end of a prayer, though I have been criticized for failing to end my prayers with it. (The line is so abused, I must say that I have an almost allergic reaction to it.) To do something in Jesus name involves doing it under his authority, as his servant, fulfilling his purposes. We sense from the Spirit what is the will of the Father and Son in a situation and we pray to that end.

And please don’t tell me that perfect health, wondrous prosperity and endless sunny days are always God’s will… that’s just plain ignorant… have you ever read a Scripture verse that wasn’t highlighted in your Possibility Thinker’s Bible?

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