Bible Question:

What did Jesus mean by whatever you ask in My name, that will I do?

Bible Answer:

What does the Bible say about prayer? This article will touch on four key points. Many people have heard the statement “ask and you shall receive.” They quote Jesus as saying, “Whatever you ask in my name . . .” Jesus will do it. That is the message of John 14:13.

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. John 14:13-14 (NASB)

Another direct statement is found in Matthew 7:7 where Jesus says, “ask and it shall be given to you.” Just ask! One would think that all we have to do is ask. That is all that is required. Yet frequently, those who have asked God for something have discovered that they did not receive that for which they asked. Therefore, our question is what did Jesus mean by, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do?” The following discusses four principles that will help us understand the meaning of Jesus’ statement. In the last principle, the verse will be explained.

Whatever You Ask In My Name

Give Glory To God

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His disciples how to pray. The prayer is recorded for us in Matthew 6:9-15. Now before explaining the opening part of the prayer, it is important to notice that we are to pray for the Father first, before we pray for ourselves. Here are the first two verses of the prayer.

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:9-10

Notice that the first and most important request we are to make is not for something about or for us. Jesus tells us to first ask that God the Father’s name will be “hallowed” or ” respected as “being holy.” That would mean we should not criticize God the Father no matter how disappointed we might be when our prayers are not answered. We should never criticize God the Father for any reason.

Our request should be that people, including us, highly respect God the Father in every circumstance. That is also the message of 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NASB)

Notice that no matter what we do, we are to strive to bring glory to God. That means our prayers and what we request should bring Him glory. In Numbers 20:12 we are told that Moses sinned by not believing God and as a result did not treat God as holy. One might ask why should I want God to be considered and  treated as holy? The answer is that He is holy (Isaiah 6:3) and we are evil (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:23). Therefore when we pray, our attitude should be that our prayers bring Him glory. When we ask for something, our desire should be that our request, if given to us, will bring Him glory. If we are serious about our relationship with God, this will change our prayer requests.

Seek God’s Will

The next part of what we call the Lord’s Prayer is about items that we should ask on behalf of God the Father.  First, Jesus tells us to ask that the kingdom would come soon. Matthew 26:29 teaches us that the kingdom beings to the Father. So, we are to ask on behalf of the Father that He receives what He wants. The third request is that the Father’s will would be done on earth. These two requests are closely connected.

That is, when we pray we should seek the will of our sinless and holy God. Usually when we pray, we often ask that God grant our wish. When He does not grant our request, it is common for some to complain and criticize Him. That is the opposite of giving God the Father glory. Therefore, Jesus gave us two principles that are to guide our prayers. First, we are to seek the Father’s glory and His will when we pray. If our prayers are about us, we should not expect the Father to be pleased with our prayer requests. That is why the apostle John wrote the following verse.

. . . whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. 1 John 3:22 (NASB)

Therefore, when Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do,” He was assuming that His disciples would want to please the Father and do His will. Do you?

In 1 John 5:14-15, we read that “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 1 John 5:14-15 (NASB)

Now we are beginning to understand Jesus’ statement, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do.” Every prayer request is heard by God the Father, but He may not grant the request of every prayer. Even though the verse says, “we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him,” we must not miss the requirement that our requests must be “according to His will.”

Here are some examples of requests that are against His will. He does not want us to sin (2 Timothy 2:22). He has plans for our lives (James 4:13-17). There is a time when He wants to bring Christians to heaven (Job 14:5; Psalm 116:15).

Believe In God

On another occasion Jesus made another comment that helps us understand, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do.” In Mark 11:24 He added that we must believe that God the Father will grant our requests.

Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Mark 11:24 (NASB)

Now this does not mean that our faith forces the Father to give us our requests. Jesus is referring to the fact that God the Father can grant our requests. When we receive our request it comes from Him. James 1:17 tells us,

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17 (NASB)

James 1:6-8 reminds us that those who doubt that the Father of lights wants to grant our requests () and can grant our requests is unstable. They doubt the love and ability of the Father.

But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:6-8 (NASB)

In Matthew 7:7 Jesus tells us “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find.” But it is important to keep reading to verse 11, because in that verse Jesus gives us another reason why God the Father may deny a prayer request. Here is Matthew 7:7-11.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!  Matthew 7:7-11 (NASB)

He only gives us good gifts. He is a good Father and not an evil Father. He does not give His children everything for which they ask but only that which is best for them. (Romans 8:28).

Learning the meaning of
“Whatever you ask in My name,
that will I do!”

Ask In Humility

Now that we understand that our prayers should seek to glorify God and be according to His will, we must believe that He is a loving God who wants to and is able to grant our requests. It is this  that helps us to understand John 14:13 and John 14:14. Notice that in both verses Jesus tells us to ask in My name or Christ’s name.

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. John 14:13-14 (NASB)

Jesus does not mean that asking in His name is like a magical key that unlocks the door for our requests. “In Jesus name” is not a secret code for getting our prayer requests. “In Jesus name” is a humble admission that our requests will only be given through Christ to God the Father. Asking “in Jesus name” expresses that we cannot make our requests come true. Therefore, we ask through Christ.

Conclusion:

In the KJV James 4:3 says, “You have not because you ask not.” The NASB says it this way,

You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:3 (NASB)

We do not have because we do not desire to glorify God the Father, or ask according to His will, or believe that He is a loving God who wants to and can grant our requests, and we are not humble. How often are we demanding and insistent that God give us what we desire? Why should anyone give us when we are abusive? Yes, Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do,” “Ask, and it will be given to you” and “ask and you shall receive.” But if we examine everything that Jesus said about prayer, we discover that there are conditions for answered prayer. Those conditions all start with a God-honoring, submissive and believing heart.

Suggested Links:

Lord’s Prayer
If God has already planned my life, why should I pray?
Jesus Teaches on Prayer Again
When can we pray an imprecatory prayer?
What can I say in my prayers?
How can you know for sure when God answers your prayer?
Expel Some Only By Prayer