John 14;13 John 16:23-24 John15:16 John 15:7 It’s clear that if we ask
Jesus anything in his name he will do it for us. Every prayer , I pray it
in Jesus’ name, but not all of them are answered. On the other hand I can
find many conditions for an answered prayer, for example true humility ,
faith , righteousness …. So why does Jesus say this when there is more
than one condition , what does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name?
A good rule of thumb for interpreting the Bible is to gather together all
the scriptures you can think of on a particular topic before reaching a
conclusion about that topic. We are encourage to do this, for example, in
2 Timothy 2:15, in which we are admonished to train ourselves to
accurately divide the word of truth. In Psalms 119 it says that “all your
words are eternal, the sum of your word is truth” (I am somewhat
A good example of this is in developing a “doctrine” of how God answers
prayers. If you were to take any one single scripture on answer to prayer
and build an entire doctrine on that passage, that would be a very unwise
course to take. For example, one reads in 1 John 5:15 that whatever we ask
for, if we are confident that he hears us, he will have it. That is true,
but one must also read in James 4:3 that sometimes we ask and we do not
receive because we ask with wrong motives, to take care of our own
desires. In John 14:14 it says that God will give whatever we ask for in
Jesus’ name. If one were to take any of the three as proof texts, he or
she could prove the other scripture wrong. A wiser path is to take all the
scriptures together which discuss how God answers prayers, sprinkle in
just a bit of common sense from the other things we already know about
God, use a couple of examples of prayers asked, but not received (such as
Paul begging God to remove his physical problem and being told in no
uncertain terms: no!, see 2 Corinthians 12:8) to arrive at some sort of
final summary on the issue. I believe you will reach a conclusion at least
something along the following lines:
1. God always wants to hear our prayers and requests, even if they are
selfish. He just wants us to pray in every situation for every reason.
2. God certainly will not just give us something, simply because we ask
3. In general, God will give to us the things which we ask for, which are
good for us (and for those for whom we request, if it involves another
4. God is not like a hotel bell-hop, just saying yes sir! to all our
requests. In general, if you want something, it appears to me that God
often waits to see how serious we are.
5. Our own personal sin, especially selfishness, are a major impediment to
God deciding to do for us what we ask.
6. If our sin might tend to be increased by God granting a specific
request, in general, the answer will be no.
You certainly should not fault Jesus for making what would appear on the
surface to be contradictory statements. None of us explains all possible
implications of every statement we make at all times, as we would be
caused to spend forever saying the simplest things. When I tell my son, he
can go to the store any way he wants, I am not giving him permission to go
across the entire country and back. Jesus often did not explain every
possible scenario when he taught the people. Blessed are the meek, for
they shall inherit the earth. How meek? What does it mean that they will
inherit the earth? etc….
I pray you will take as full a biblical view of prayer as possible and
apply it to your life.
John Oakes, PhD