Posted by: Heather | January 23, 2009

Some thoughts on "asking in Jesus’ name"

In our family devotions we have been going through the Gospel of John. Last night we read chapter 17, which many people call Jesus’ high priestly prayer. I call it the Lord’s prayer. You may wonder at that. Isn’t the Lord’s prayer the one that goes, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed by thy name . . .”? Well, I call that the disciples’ prayer, as Jesus was teaching them how to pray. However, John 17 is Jesus’ actual prayer to God in the disciples presence. It is interesting to read it in light of the outline Jesus gave the disciples in Matthew and Luke, but I will leave that comparison up to you.

Before explaining what I noticed, let me attempt to summarize the prayer for you. In verses 1-5, Jesus says in effect, “Father, I have shown the world who you are. Now the time has come for me to ask you to show the world who I am”

Jesus spoke these words and lifted up His eyes to Heaven and said, Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son so that Your Son also may glorify You, even as You have given Him authority over all flesh so that He should give eternal life to all You have given Him. And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You upon the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now Father, glorify Me with Yourself with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
(John 17:1-5)

In verses 6-12 He prays for those who have been given to Him, who have been given His name because they have accepted His word.

I have revealed Your name to the men whom You gave to Me out of the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things, whatever You have given Me, are from You. For I have given to them the Words which You gave Me, and they have received them and have known surely that I came out from You. And they have believed that You sent Me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world, but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am in the world no longer, but these are in the world, and I come to You, Holy Father. Keep them in Your name, those whom You have given Me, so that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those that You have given Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
(John 17:6-12)

In verses 13-23 He prays for them in light of the fact that they will remain in the world but He will not. He prays that God will keep them from evil, He prays that God will set them apart (sanctify them) to the truth, He prays that they will be one with Him, the Father, and each other, so that the world will see the Father after Jesus is not in the world.

And now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world that they might have My joy fulfilled in them. I have given them Your Word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray for You to take them out of the world, but for You to keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through Your truth. Your Word is truth. As You have sent Me into the world, even so I have sent them into the world. And I sanctify Myself for their sakes, so that they also might be sanctified in truth. And I do not pray for these alone, but for those also who shall believe on Me through their word, that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. And I have given them the glory which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are one, I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.
(John 17:13-23)

In verses 24-26 He prays of His ultimate desire that they will be with Him where He is.

Father, I desire that those whom You have given Me, that they may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me, for You have loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, indeed the world has not known You; but I have known You, and these have known that You have sent me. And I made known to them Your name, and will make it known, so that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them.
(John 17:24-26)

I noticed in verse 11 that He asked the Father to keep them in His name. He has given us his name. This got me thinking. I have been pondering for a while what it means to ask for things in Jesus’ name. I noticed this wording in verse 11 and wondered if asking in Jesus name has to do more with where I am, rather than having to do with what I say when I pray. Am I to be IN His name when I ask? So I did a quick search of “ask in my name” in my computer Bible program. (E-sword) I found 7 times that this phrase occurs in the Bible. (I searched MKJV) 6 of those times were between John 13 and John 16. These are all in the same upper room discourse that occurred before this prayer in John 17. Is it mere happenstance that Jesus uses the same phrase, “in your name” in the prayer that follows this discourse? I think not. As a matter of fact, I think of it like a symphony where there is an intriguing note or chord that keeps being struck. Then in chapter 17 we hear the chord played as the basis of the ultimate climax of the piece. Jesus has been talking about praying in His name and that was sort of intriguing. Now they get to hear Him pray as He has been describing.

So, my thoughts on asking for “anything in Jesus’ name” would go something like this: I am to be totally immersed in Jesus’ prayer in John 17 where He poured out the very desire of His heart to God. “Father, I have shown the world who you are, Now show them who I am. Show them by what I am about to do. Then show them who I am by those who have my name after I am gone. Keep those who are mine from evil, set them apart for the truth. Unite them with me and each other. I want to be with them forever”

As I line up with this desire of Christ, I can ask for anything that lines up with the same desire and God will do it. Keep in mind, that before this time, people could not approach God at all. (See John 16:26 – something was about to change) Some of this “asking in Jesus name” is about the simple privilege to ask God anything at all. Without the sacrifice Jesus was about to make when he prayed this prayer, God would not have listened to me at all.

So these promises in the upper room discourse were not about just asking for stuff and tagging “in Jesus’ name” on the end and getting what we want. They are about Jesus’ desire that God be shown to the world through us. We will receive anything we ask for that accomplishes this goal.

These thoughts are still sort of rough around the edges, but I hope they are edifying.




  1. Would it be a stretch to think that the prayers of the Old Testament were also recognized through the coming atonement of Christ?I tend to lean that way anyhow… They in the OT did not have the Holy Spirit, and therefore could not have the Word of Christ dwelling richly in them (generally speaking – there were prophets), so there was a lot of longing that is exemplified in David’s psalms desiring to enter the temple, to approach temple, etc. referring to being in God’s presence.But we have the advantage of living there daily and constantly because of the work and because of the requests that Christ revealed in this prayer… Totally mega-awsma… (a short-lived version of “totally awesome”, coined by the one and only Mr. Morock, @ the Mirror Lake Youth Goup camp out circa 88?…)

  2. This puts it in time, and God is timeless. It is pretty clear reading Hebrews that something about our prayers and HOW we approach God changed at the cross. I don’t understand exactly how it all works, and God obviously heard prayer before the cross, so in a sense you are right.However the idea of praying in Jesus’ name appears to be a new concept in the Gospel of John.A long way of saying I don’t know. Good thoughts, I will have to think on it.To go way out on a limb, I think it is a stretch for mankind ever to be allowed to talk to God. That is part of the wonder of it all. (perhaps what the one and only Mr. Morock was getting at?)Craig

  3. Concerning the Holy Spirit in the OT-David wrote songs, or psalms directed to God. Nathan and Samuel brought messages from God to David and Saul. Does the Bible specifically say that God directly spoke to David? Just curious.Psalm 51:9-12 “Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” 1 Samuel 11:6 “And the Spirit of God came powerfully on Saul when he heard those words, and his anger was kindled greatly.” 1 Samuel 16:14 “But the spirit of Jehovah departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from Jehovah terrified him.” I’ve always thought that there must have been a connection with God through the Holy Spirit. But not in the same sense that we have today. Perhaps the Holy Spirit was *with* David and Saul in the same sense that God lived in the tabernacle? He was there, but it wasn’t a permanent residence and would leave if the person chose a rebellious path.The patriarchs, prophets and priests seem to have been able to communicate directly–even audibly– with God but the “average” Israelite needed a mediator (priest/prophet).Jesus is now our High Priest and mediator so a human priest is no longer necessary. He left us the Holy Spirit to indwell the living tabernacle of our bodies rather than a dead building–and He won’t leave. 1 Peter 2:9 calls God’s elect “a royal priesthood” (I assume this refers to ALL believers) Is this the difference to which Hebrews refers?UM. I’m not trying to make a point. Just throwing out random observations. Maybe someone else can fit the puzzle pieces together for me.Heather

  4. I have been wanting to get through this post for a while as you know this is my favorite subject! 😉 I must say that I think the “Johns” are my favorite books in the Bible, especially the gospel. I will be reading through John some time with this in the back of my mind now. One thing that I can whole-heartedly agree on is that while we are abiding in Christ he has given us the freedom to ask anything in his name to accomplish his will – at least that is what I got from one of the last sentences you posted, and I think that is very scriptural. (I realize your post was bringing to light what it means to be “in his name”) It is a promise that seems to require faith at the same time. Hard to believe that we struggle so much with the “impossible” that God wants to do through us, when all we have to do is believe that HE can do it and has PROMISED to do it – at least while in line with his will…I guess that is where I will end my thoughts for now. I am with you, I have not totally conquered this subject, but I believe there is a lot more there than most Christians have grasped…greater things than these!

  5. My thought on the “greater things than these” would be described the following way.God became man and displayed Himself to the world. (Jesus displayed the Father) This is much more of a miracle than moving a mountain, or uprooting a tree. The God of Heaven who stretched out the heavens with Hand, somehow confined Himself within a human body and accurately expressed Who God is.This was in a human body, that was perfect. He was never sick, He never sinned.Now to up the ante, the Holy Spirit enters us (as sinful depraved people) and in some way displays who God is to the world. Jesus’ body left the world 2000 years ago, and yet God the Father is still being expressed in us to the world. Think about it, you have seen God in others. This is a miracle beyond comprehension. The essence of Jesus’ prayer was 1) I have expressed who you are2) I am asking you (the Father) to express who I am3) I am asking that you express to the world who I am Through these whom you have given me.4) I long for them to be with me where I am (as I am coming to you)I think the “greater things” reside in item #3.Craig

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