Will God really give us anything we ask for if we ask in Jesus’ name?

Q. Did Jesus give believers a “blank check” to ask for anything they want from God, so long as they ask it in Jesus’ name, when he said “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” in John 14:14?

When Jesus spoke of his “name,” he meant much more than the word by which he was called.

Jesus’ name means, for one thing, his reputation. So to ask for something in Jesus’ name means to ask for it in order to advance Jesus’ reputation and purposes in the world.

Jesus’ name also means his person. So to ask for something in Jesus’ name means to ask for what Jesus would ask for if he were in our situation.

I think that if our request meets those two tests, then we can be confident that God will grant it. Indeed, it will likely have been the Holy Spirit who will have given us the desire to seek something that would advance the cause of Jesus and reflect his character.

Suppose I told you that I was going to be dealing with a certain organization and you replied, “Oh, they know me well there, just mention my name.” If I did that, I could expect that the organization would treat me just as favorably as they would treat you, knowing you well. But I should not expect that I could ask them for something unreasonable or unfair or something that was inconsistent with your character. The use of your name would be a privilege that I should be careful not to abuse.

So what Jesus said was in one sense a blank check, in that God does want us to ask with godly ambition for things that will advance the reputation and purposes of Jesus and reflect his character. But we do not have a blank check simply to say the name “Jesus” and expect that God will give us anything and everything we ask for, particularly not things that we ask for out of selfish or vainglorious ambitions.

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is an an ordained minister, a writer, and a biblical scholar. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the New International Version (NIV) that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He was also a consultant to Tyndale House for the Immerse Bible, an edition of the New Living Translation (NLT) that similarly presents the Scriptures in their natural literary forms, without chapters and verses or section headings. He has a B.A. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

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