The Christian Perspective

In John 14:14, Jesus says "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it."

In modern western "Christian" culture, the idea of praying in Jesus' name is often understood to mean appending " Jesus' name" to the end of our prayers.

Using this reasoning, one may perhaps come to the conclusion that if I want a shiny red Porsche because I like to drive fast and look good doing it, then I can simply pray, "God, please give me a shiny red Porsche in Jesus' name" and He is then obligated to do so.

But is this really what Jesus was referring to in this passage?

In studying the scriptures, as in studying any kind of writing, taking statements out of context can be hazardous to properly understanding them. To properly understand Jesus' statement in John 14:14, we need to first look at the rest of John 14, then the rest of the entire book of John, then the rest of the complete Bible. Taken together and kept in context, the meaning of Jesus' statement becomes clearly apparent, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with appending His name to our own self-serving requests.

First, John 14. The content of this passage involves, primarily, Jesus explaining His own divine identity to His followers. He makes some fantastic statements such as "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me," and "He who has seen Me has seen the Father".

When He says "I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me," and then "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word" and finally "the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me," it becomes apparent that in context, Jesus is claiming that the things He does and says are not of His own invention, but rather come directly from His Father.

In this sense, Jesus is acting in His Father's name.

He further says to His followers "I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you," thereby equating the way that He acts in the name of the Father with how we should act in the name of the Son. As Jesus does nothing apart from the will of the Father, so we are to do nothing apart from the will of the Son.

It is in this same sense that we are to pray in Jesus' name. This means we are to pray as Jesus would have us pray. Verse 14 then guarantees that if we pray for the things that God has planned, they will be done.

This certainly does NOT mean that if we DO NOT pray for the things God has planned, then they will not be done. God's plans will be accomplished with or without us. What it does mean, however, is that the only things that we ask for that we have any basis for expecting to receive are the things that are in accordance with God's will.

Thus, John 14:14 is not a blanket permission to get whatever we want -- rather, it is a limitation to the kinds of things we can expect to receive.

Looking at the greater context of the Book of John, we see the same kinds of things often repeated. In John 1, we are told "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God." This yet again connects the Son with the Father.

In John 12:23-33, Jesus makes it plain that He Himself does not desire death on the cross, but rather is going to willingly die in submission to His Father. He also makes it clear that His followers should expect the same kind of persecution and should react with the same kind of submission. This hardly sounds like a free Porsche.

Looking at the greater context of scripture, we see a verse in the book of James that could not make things any more clear. James 4:3 says "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures".

There are many more scriptures that could be referenced here, and they should all be researched by the studious Bible student, but I believe the Biblical explanation of the verse in question is now clear.

Thus, through a contextual study of scripture, we see that rather than John 14:14 saying we will get whatever we want, it actually teaches the ONLY things we will get are those that are in accordance with God's will.

Read John 14