“I tell you the truth, 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, NIV)
During Jesus’ final time with His disciples before His crucifixion, He talked to them about their ministry after His departure (John 13 – 17). Four different times (John 14:13-14; 15:7; 15:16; 16:23-24) He said,
Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
(John 15:16, NIV)
These verses are intriguing because they sound like a blank check. Rub the lamp and make three wishes. But we seem to assume that either our faith isn’t strong enough, or that the “fine print” makes these verses of little practical significance to us. In any case, we don’t take Jesus’ offer seriously.
Recently, however, I looked into the context here to understand what He was so anxious to tell us.
1. He emphasized that we were to ask in His name; that is, within His will, and only for His purposes (14:13; 15:16; 16:23-24).
2. He repeatedly said that the reason our prayers would be answered is that the Father might be glorified (14:13; 15:8) and that we might bear fruit to Him (15:16).
3. Jesus makes it clear that we will share His own direct relationship with the Father (16:23-24, 26-27). As we live in His Spirit, depending on the Father, willing only what He wills, we can ask boldly and largely on behalf of His work.
In this light, these “ask anything” verses are not an option or an invitation to self-indulgence. They are a challenge to ministry.
Think of the ministry God has given you. Are your desires focused enough on Him that You truly want only what He wants, and only for His glory?
If so, is your faith aggressive enough to believe He can do more than you can do on your own? Do you limit your service to levels in which you can operate comfortably in your own strength? Or do you let Him lead you into tasks where you have to depend on Him?
As you follow Christ and serve Him, you’ll come up against needs that are bigger than you. At that point, you’ll either take His words on prayer seriously, or the job won’t get done. “Ask anything in my name” is His call to meet each of those challenges with simple, assured prayer.
Does Jesus repeatedly point you to an area of service or obedience? Perhaps you’ve tried to avoid it as being unrealistic or beyond you. But He gently, persistently brings it back to your mind. Face it with Him, step by step, prayer by prayer. You’ll be surprised at how He can work through you.