Yesterday we looked at God’s promise in John 14:14. Too often people take the verse to imply, “If you ask anything, I will do it.” They overlook the most essential phrase: “in My name.”
Asking in Christ’s name has two meanings. First, believers are welcome to make requests that align with God’s purpose and plan. To do that, we need to ask Him if our prayers match His will. God has several ways of assuring followers that they are on the correct path. For instance, He may increase right desires or decrease wrong ones. Another possibility is that He will use His Word to redirect a Christian’s steps or confirm that the believer is going the right way. Either way, God will make a path for the man or woman who seeks to do His will.
Second, invoking Christ’s name means that we desire to glorify Him instead of ourselves. James gives this warning: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). To understand that, let’s consider those who are trying to pray their way out of a financial hole as an example. The question is, Does a person want to get out of debt so that he has more for himself or so that he can use the excess in God-honoring ways? Motives are apparent to God, and He will not encourage ones rooted in sin.
In the name Jesus Christ, there is abundant power. However, calling upon Him in prayer is not a magic charm to get what we want. Rather, it is a signal that we are laying down our personal desires and our own way of getting things done. In so doing, we commit to follow God and bring honor to Him.