“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it”—Jesus (John 14:14)
You may wonder if that Bible verse is too good to be true. Does Jesus really mean I can ask for anything? What about a LEGO set or a new iPad?
Not so fast. That verse might make it sound like God is our personal genie just waiting to grant us our every wish. But He’s not. When we read that verse, we can get stuck on the word “anything” when we should really be focusing on what Jesus said next: “in my name.”
To understand Jesus’ intent behind this verse, let’s consider a real-life example of what “in my name” really means.
Let’s say you and your best friend are at a restaurant. The waiter hands you menus and walks away. Soon after, your friend heads to the bathroom and while he is gone, the waiter comes back and asks to take your order. You stammer for a bit, looking at the bathroom door. Then you look at the menu and think to yourself, hey, this is easy. I totally know what he would get. You order the linguini with meat sauce for him and the breaded chicken for you. The waiter walks away and just then your friend comes back and sits down. You tell him what you ordered for him and he replies, “Cool! That’s exactly what I wanted!”
While your friend was gone, you ordered with authority and confidence because you knew what he would have wanted. In the same way, when Jesus tells us that we can ask for anything in His name and He will do it, He means that we are to ask Him for what He wants. Not what we want.
Now, let’s imagine for a moment that it wasn’t your best friend in that restaurant. Instead it was someone you just met. How would you know what to order? You wouldn’t have a clue. You might order the lobster only to find out that your new friend has a shellfish allergy.
This holds true with our prayer life as well. In order for us ask for things “in Jesus’ name,” we need to know Him really well. The closer we are to Jesus, the closer our prayers will match His desires for our life.
So how do we get to know Jesus better? It’s simple. Just like you got to know your best friend: by spending time with him. This means talking to Jesus, reading about Him in the Bible and listening to people who know Him better than you so they can tell you all about Him.
In the end, prayer isn’t so much about asking for what we want, but asking for what God wants. And while new LEGO sets and iPads might be cool, God’s plans for your life are so much more valuable. After all, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). And His plans are always best.
Dear Lord, help me to want what you want for my life. There are many things that I think I want, but I know that you know what is best for me. Help me to get to know you better so that I can ask for things “in your name.” Amen.
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