And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13 NIV
(Todays post is taken from an email letter I received. The names have been changed and it has been edited for brevity.)
I’m struggling with a couple of verses. Recently my sister-in-law died from melanoma. Besides being heartbroken I am just struggling because naturally we had been praying and praying for her. I’m perfectly aware that we don’t always get what we pray for. But we had been praying so diligently for my sister-in-law to beat this cancer, and yet it spread very suddenly. The medicine ceased to be working in her upper liver, and within days of going to the hospital for nausea, she was gone!
What I can’t fathom not being the truth is this verse: John 14:13, 14 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” What does this mean, exactly? I can find nothing either before or after it that would mean it’s out of context in any way. It seems to me that Jesus is telling us that whatever we ask for, if it’s in His name….He will do it. I’m not talking about money or material things. I am just struggling with what was truly on my heart, what I truly asked for…and taking this verse as literal, it wasn’t accomplished.
I also struggle with this verse albeit a bit lesser. Psalm 37:4 – “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I think the desires of our hearts are to be what His desires are, but still this bothers me somewhat, because the desire of my heart was for Jane (my sister-in-law) to live. She was about to get a Masters in Social Work and her daughter just graduated from High School, which Jane wasn’t able to attend because she passed away shortly before the graduation. What does this mean if we can’t really have the true desires of our hearts (which in this case was Jane living and being healed)?
I have an easier time accepting the things I pray for myself not coming true, because I’m open to my plan not being God’s plan. But, I just know Jane wanted to live so badly and she trusted God to save her. She will never see her grandkids now, or her only child marry or graduate college, or even high school. I know that other people suffer worse fates, etc. The subject of suffering too is one I read as much as I can get my hands on but have never come to a satisfactory answer for my brain….I just can’t explain it other than suffering gives us character and whatnot….Romans 5:3-4. But to see children suffer esp. when God could prevent it….perhaps you have no answer either….but then perhaps you do. For some reason the Lord placed it upon my heart to ask you. And so here I am.
Thanks for the help! I’m not thinking of abandoning God….I just am so hurt that these verses seem to not be true. And I don’t want to think that there is something in scripture that is not true! So that is really bothering me! We prayed with her to accept Jesus a few months ago so I know perfectly well she is in heaven. But like I said I’m just stumped over these verses, not to mention I will miss her forever. Life is not going to be the same without her.
Thank you so much for your email. First I just want to say how sorry I am for your loss. Please know that our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. While I am not a Bible scholar, I can share with you what I have gleaned from my own personal study that was prompted by my own similar questions. All of us come to this place of questioning at some point in our lives. In a way it is comforting to me to know we believe in a God that is so big I cannot figure Him out. While Isaiah 55:8-9 might seem like a simple and pat explanation to our questioning, “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.”, it is a good place to start. I believe humbling ourselves and acknowledging that we may never fully understand all of God’s ways this side of heaven gets us headed in the right direction. We are in good company, even the Apostle Paul said he was perplexed–but he was not in despair! (2 Corinthians 4:8)
When we find a passage or verse of scripture we don’t understand, here are some actions to take:
- Pray for understanding.
- Read the verse in its context, which is usually the whole chapter where the verse is located. (Sometimes it may require reading more chapters or even the entire book to get the full context.)
- Look at other verses that are similar or on the same topic.
- Look at the same passage in different Bible translations and paraphrases.
- Read Commentaries, lexicons, concordances and Word studies to gain more insight.
Let’s look at the verses you mentioned. Since we have already 1)Prayed for understanding and 2)Read the verses in context, the next step is to 3) Look at other verses that are similar in topic or theme.
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:13,14
I highlighted “in my name” because this appears to be the clarifier. In almost all similar verses, a clarifier is present.
- “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7
- “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16
- “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” John 16:23,24
- “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19,20
Jesus is not saying you can ask anything and He will do it. He is saying ask anything, in my name and He will do it. We’ll look at what “in my name” means in step 5. But for now let’s look at some other verses on prayer that might give us more insight.
- In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray. (The Lord’s Prayer) Verse 10 gives us some more information that helps answer our questions. “May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” NLT
- In Luke 22:41-42, We get a glimpse of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. “He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ “
In these passages, we see that even Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, qualified His prayers by submitting to the Father’s will!
The next step, 4)Looking up our scripture in different translations, did not yield any additional information, so it isn’t necessary to include them here. Let’s move on to 5)Read Commentaries, lexicons, concordances. Here are the words of a few Bible scholars about the passage, John 14:13-14:
- The power of the disciples originated in prayer. Jesus could hardly have made more emphatic the declaration that whatever they should ask in his name, he would do. The phrase “in my name,” however, is not a talisman for the command of supernatural energy. He did not wish it to be used as a magical charm like an Aladdin’s lamp. It was both a guarantee, like the endorsement on a check, and a limitation on the petition; for he would grant only such petitions as could be presented consistently with his character and purpose. In prayer we call on him to work out his purpose, not simply to gratify our whims. The answer is promised so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. (Tenney, M. C. (1981). John. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 9: John and Acts (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (146). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.)
- These are not “blank checks”—promises to supply everything anyone requests. “In My name” corresponds to “according to My character” and thus is parallel to other texts that require us to leave room for God’s will to overrule ours (e.g., Mt 6:10; Jms 4:15). (Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (1601). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.)
We won’t go in depth on Psalm 37:4, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” But I believe the following commentary explains it beautifully.
- And even this pleasant duty of delighting in God has a promise annexed to it, which is very full and precious, enough to recompense the hardest services: He shall give thee the desires of thy heart. He has not promised to gratify all the appetites of the body and the humours of the fancy, but to grant all the desires of the heart, all the cravings of the renewed sanctified soul. What is the desire of the heart of a good man? It is this, to know, and love, and live to God, to please him and to be pleased in him. (Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: Complete and unabridged in one volume (Ps 37:1–6). Peabody: Hendrickson.)
Lastly, in your email you mentioned the subject of suffering. The absolute best book I have ever read on the subject is: When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steve Estes. Besides the Bible, it has been the most life changing book I have ever read. You can find a link to it on my Resources page under Favorite Books.
I hope this has been helpful. I pray that God will give you comfort in your grief. I’m writing this on the fifth anniversary of my own fathers death. I understand loss and the pain of losing someone dear, but we must remember that we serve a God who loves us, He is working out good, and this life is just temporary. I want to leave you with Paul’s admonition in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
“JUST SAY KNOW” Bible Study
For this week’s Bible Study, pick your own Bible verse or passage. Using that passage, study and follow the schedule below. You can find all the Bible Study Aids you will need on my Resource Menu. Click Here
Day 1 — Pray for understanding. (Also take some time today to Click on the Bible Study Aids Link above and get familiar with the Bible Study websites to see which one works for you.)
Day 2 — Read the verse in its context, which is usually the whole chapter where the verse is located. (Sometimes it may require reading more chapters or even the entire book to get the full context.)
Day 3 — Look at other verses that are similar or on the same topic. (Use a concordance to find them.)
Day 4 — Look at the same passage in different Bible translations and paraphrases.
Day 5– Read Commentaries, lexicons, concordances and Word studies to gain more insight.
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8 thoughts on “Whatever You Ask In My Name”
Just minutes after I posted this on the BetterOffRead.com facebook page, Someone shared the following link on my personal facebook page. Somebody needs this.
I’m so very sorry for the loss of your sister-in-law to cancer. I know how you feel, I lost my mom to breast cancer almost 3 years ago, she wasn’t just my mom, she was my best friend. She died a slow and painful death right before my eyes even after much prayer, prophecies of her healing and what we thought was faith in God’s desire to heal and bring glory to himself, through the use of Jesus’ name. After all, Jesus obviously displayed God’s will to heal everyone who came to him, and the Father was glorified – right?
Well, to be honest, my mom and I had been in the Word of Faith pretty heavily for over 20 years, and what we were doing was not really “praying” it was more like commanding and demanding that God heal my mother. We were also rebuking and binding Satan to remove the cancer from her.
The problem with this approach is that there is no discernment going on here. We had put ourselves in God’s role and assumed what God’s will was in this situation. Before laying hands on my mom, no one even asked God who was attacking her and why. No one even thought to ask God what the cause of this curse was – was it poor choices of a physical nature, or the cause of a spiritual nature? No one even asked my mom any questions about her life. In the aftermath of this very difficult time this is what God showed me when I pursued him for a year to know the truth:
My mother was in major sin for 20 years and had taken the attitude that God
condoned her sin, so he was using sickness to bring her back to him in repentance
Through this painful process, God had finally gotten my attention and led me to the
truth, that I was lost.
What God calls good and what he calls bad are very different from what we call good
and what we call bad. In his point of view, bringing cancer upon my mom was
good, because it caused her to repent of her sin just before she couldn’t talk
anymore, and then died. He allowed me to hear her confession before she left –
he is so good!
Our God is a God who saves, escapes from death belong to the LORD Ps. 68:20
Alice, I am not saying that this is why your sister-in-law died, all I am saying is that God has his reasons for doing things we just don’t understand. I kept seeking God and asking him “why?” I can’t tell you how many people told me not to do that. According to them, I was the failure, they didn’t say this, but that is what Word of Faith implies in its teachings. According to Word of Faith, if you didn’t get what you “confessed” then it was your faith that failed. This is very cruel and not true. I know God was not my problem, I just wanted to know what went wrong and why.
The truth is that God, the very one who loves us, will cause us physical harm as a means of saving us. This is a very hard thing for many people to understand and accept.
I want you to know, there is a reason why your prayer wasn’t answered the way you wanted it to be answered. Keep asking God for the answer to your precious question -“Why Lord?” I promise that through your searching and vulnerability and desire for the truth, God will show you why this happened. I learned the hard way that I must trust God and believe that his will is the best, and that my commanding him to do my bidding, even though it seemed to be in accordance to those Scriptures, made me guilty of the sin of presumption. Jesus prayed in all honesty to his Father that if there was any other way to redeem mankind, because his flesh didn’t want to die on the cross, but in the next verse he said, “never the less, not my will, but thy will be done.”
My prayer for you is that you come out of this stronger in your faith and your love and devotion of our Lord Jesus Christ is deepened. That is what happened in my case. And remember this, never forget this, you will see your sister-in-law again, thanks be unto the Lord!
Love in Christ,
Heather, thank you so much for sharing your story. I pray many will be encouraged by your transparency. Blessings!
Heather, about Jesus, you said, “because His flesh did not want to die.” Dear sister, He never walked in His flesh nor did He ever consider it. His pain that terrible night in the garden was that He would become sin, sin against His Father. That horrified Him. To Him, this had to be unspeakable suffering that far overshadowed what his human body was about to go through. He NEVER once thought about Himself on this earth but always about the concerns of his Father. His flesh never entered into the picture. I just want you to know this. In Christ!
Awesome article..FULL COUNSEL OF GOD..In word of Faith everything is focused on “I” “my faith” “my confession” No place for what is “God’s will” abt an issue..Pride rules in all dos unbiblical man made teachings of Faith movement..Thank God for Bible..the written Word of God which give a full clear picture of God’s heart..His will is everything in a belivers life..Amen LET YOUR WILL BE DONE..
So glad you found our website. Thanks for your comments. Blessings!
I also have fasted and no results from God .I know God is there and I feel he hears our prayers but no manifesting of my prayers has come. I am doing all I know how to do for the glory of God and Jesus christ.
For some reason I did not see this until just now. Thank you so much for taking the time to connect with us. I will be agreeing with you in prayer and asking God to strengthen you as you petition Him to meet your needs. I leave you with Hebrews 11:39 from the “Faith” Chapter:
“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,”
I believe that God commends you for your faithfulness and He does receive Glory when you continue to trust and serve Him even when you don’t receive the answers you are hoping for.