You may be like me and you’ve wondered what Jesus meant when He said:
“…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.” (John 14:12-13)
Jesus says that He’s leaving, and that in His absence the disciples are to ask the Father in His name, and that what they ask will be done. I understand most of that. But “ask in my name” is a phrase I don’t use very often. So I need a good definition:
“Asking in the name of another means that the other authorized me and sent me to ask, and wants to be considered as asking himself; he wants the favor done to him.” (Andrew Murray, 1828-1917)
A visual to help
As I think about Murray’s definition, I imagine that “asking in the name of another” might look something like this: A prince leading his battalion on a faraway battle field sends, and authorizes, a loyal soldier to go and ask his father, the king, for more troops. He says to the soldier, “Go and ask my father, in my name, for what I believe is needed to win this battle.”
Arriving at the castle, the loyal soldier has no right in himself to ask anything of the king, but because he’s been authorized to ask in the name of, in the place of, for the prince, he enters the throne room boldly. The prince, he says, would like the requested favor done to him, for him. The soldier hasn’t dreamed up what to request, and he doesn’t request what he himself might like. He requests only what his lord, the prince, would if he were standing there himself. He’s been authorized to speak in his place, in his lord’s name, and his request is to be considered as if it’s coming from the prince himself.
He comes as a loyal soldier, with the authority and wishes of the prince, and asks the father to act on his request because he’s asking according to the will of the son. He asks what the prince would ask. And so, in the end, the king receives the honor and glory due his mighty name. As he honors the prince’s request spoken through his soldier, the father’s greatness and care shine through.
That visual helps me.
But how do I request what Jesus would?
Just how do I discern what my Lord would request? It’s here that John Piper helps. Praying “in Jesus’ name” means that I:
- Pray for Jesus’ fame and not my own (so I don’t ask from vain or selfish desires)
- Pray because of Jesus’ divine worth, not my own (meaning, I let Jesus’ worth shape and filter all that I ask for as I come to the Father in His name)
- Pray on the basis of the payment Jesus made on the cross (I come to God as a little child resting in the “yes!” of all God’s promises made on the basis of Jesus’ death for me — no other angles for trying to get to God are allowed)
- Pray according to God’s sovereign wisdom, which Jesus prayed for regularly …”not my will but Thine be done.” I then know I’ll be given all I need to walk in the works He’s prepared for me to walk in (Eph. 2:10). (For John Piper’s short video that these points are taken from, link here).
“For me it is absolutely essential that my prayers be guided by, saturated by, and sustained and controlled by the word of God…if you open the Bible, start reading it, and pause at every verse and turn it into a prayer, then you can pray all day that way.” (John Piper)
So. When I pray, I ask, in Jesus’ name — not just as a tacked-on phrase at the end of my prayer. I try to pray what God has said He wants for His people: so I read the Bible, or I remember a verse, and as I pause, you come to mind. Or you and your current need comes to mind, and I ask God to remind me of scripture that applies. I then pray for you, guided by the Word, asking that the Father would be glorified in the Son as He works out what is best for you, and through you, in your current need.
Like the soldier, I want my Prince to get all the fame and glory. I come to my King because He told me I could and should. And just as the Prince would have if he were actually speaking, I request with the heartfelt attitude of “but you know best, Father, and I fully bow to whatever you choose in this matter.”
Related: How can I know what to pray?
Windsor Castle, Paul Sandby (1731-1809)