There are a number of Bible verses that tell us that we can ask for and receive blessings from God. Obviously, if the Bible says it, it is true. However, the way into which we put into practice the things we read in the Bible can make all the difference. For example, John 14 says, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (vv. 13-14 NASB). If we take this scripture all by itself, then we would think that all we have to do is just ask for something in Jesus name.
We have to take the entire Bible into account as a collective work, and not just take little pieces out and lean on the phrases that we like the best. When looking at the above scripture, we have to understand it in light of what James tells us: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (4:2 NASB). Now, we can’t just request something “in Jesus’ name,” we must do so with the correct motive. And what is that motive? Specifically, it would depend on the situation, but in general, look back in John 14, “so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
Jesus also instructs us to have a little bit of faith in our prayers:
“And the Lord said, If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:6 NASB).
“for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” (Matt. 17:20b NASB).
When people talk about asking for anything in Jesus’ name and receiving it, they usually don’t mention one teaching that Jesus gave on the subject, and that is what I would like to explore today.
As the last supper was concluding, Jesus instructs His disciples to “Get up, Let us go from here.” (Luke 14:31b NASB). On the way to the garden of Gethsemane, they would have passed through a vineyard. This gave Christ the perfect illustration opportunity for them:
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:1-11 NASB).
Notice verse 7: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
Now we see the “secret” for answered prayer. “If” is a conditional word. The condition is twofold:
- We abide in Christ
- Christ’s word’s abide in us
If the conditions are met, then the conclusion is that we can ask whatever we wish, and it will be done.
Now, I know that we don’t like to think of Christ in terms of conditions. However, this is a condition that was specified in the Bible, so we do have to deal with it. I do notice, though, that this condition only says “if”, it does NOT say “if and only if”. This is where grace comes into play. Christ is free to do whatever He wants, whenever He wants. This conditional “if” statement basically tells us what to expect, but we also know that Jesus doesn’t always adhere to what is expected.
What we need to do, though, is to meet the conditions. What does it mean to “abide”? The simple definition is to remain or dwell. Thayer’s lexicon says “something has established itself permanently within my soul, and always exerts its power in me.”
Other translations of this verse are:
If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. (AMP)
If you live in me and what I say lives in you, then ask for anything you want, and it will be yours. (GW)
But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. (MSG)
But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! (NLT)
So, what is it like to truly abide in, remain in, dwell in Christ, and to let His words abide in, remain in, dwell in us? I think that this means that every word we speak, every action we take, every reaction we make is all affected by our relationship with Jesus. We can’t be totally immersed in His presence without it affecting every aspect of who we are, and that will show by the way we live our lives.
I hear so many people say that they don’t have time for a “quiet time,” aka personal time between them and Jesus – a time of just prayer and Bible reading. I say, how can you not have time? This is Jesus! He says we need to remain in Him. How can we remain in Him if we don’t take the time to get to know Him? Make the time. Take the time. Get to know Him. Live in His presence. See what a difference it makes in your life.
- Abide in Him
- Let His words abide in you
Now, let’s revisit John 14:13-14: “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”