Prayer is a very important part of a Christian’s life. Yet there are some misconceptions concerning it. One of these is found in John 14:13-14:
“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
Can Christians really ask for absolutely anything in Jesus’ name and receive it? Does asking in Jesus’ name give our prayers an extra boost? Is it some kind of magical saying that means that anything that you ask for will come true? Some take this teaching to mean these very things. However, this is not the actual meaning of the passage.
Let’s first look at the use of “Jesus’ name” throughout Scripture in its different contexts. In Matthew 18:5, Jesus told his disciples to welcome others “in his name.” In the same chapter (verse 20), he taught about Christians assembling together for judging “in his name.” He also spoke about doing miracles, giving cups of water, and sending the Holy Spirit all “in his name” (Mark 9:39, 41; John 14:26).
Doing any of these things in “Jesus’ name” is to do them in a way that is in line with who Christ is and everything that he stands for. To do them in “Jesus’ name” means that they are done for the glory of God and in accordance with his will.
Notice what this verse says – “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Praying in Jesus’ name is about doing so to glorify him. 1 John 5:14-15 adds to this, “And this is the confidence that we have toward 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 we have requests that we have asked of him.” Notice that John says that we are to ask “according to his will.” Eric Bargerhuff comments:
“In essence, it is to pray in accordance with God’s will-ultimately for God’s glory-‘that the Father may be glorified in the Son.’ Then as the disciples pray ‘in Jesus’ name,’ with those motives in mind, they can rest assured that their prayers will be answered and Jesus himself (‘I will do it’) will be assisting them from heaven in their ministry efforts.”
Typically when we pray we will do so in a way that best fits what we think is right, or according to our own desires. Bargerhuff gives us an excellent example of how we should pray:
“Lord, I know you have a purpose for everything you bring into my life, and my prayer is that you would be glorified in whatever way seems best. Please teach me what you want me to learn from this so that my faith will grow. Please help me to see what your sovereign purposes might be, so that I may rejoice in your plan and rely upon your grace. But Lord, if it would be pleasing to you, I do ask that you would bring relief from this pain and healing from this hurt, for this is my desire. Either way, I trust you and I pray that your will be done. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
This is, of course, not the only way a prayer can be made (the best example is the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13), but it does display the characteristics of good prayer: reliance and trust in God, accepting God’s plan humbly, and also asking God for the desires that we have according to his will. “Our goal in prayer is to see God glorified no matter what. Our goal is to see things his way, so that our will aligns with his.”
Prayer is a powerful part of a Christian’s life. It is personal communication with the Creator of all things. However, prayer is not to be self-centered, but God-centered. We should pray according to his will, and when we do so we can ask for anything according to his purposes. We may not get an immediate response or one that we think we will get, but God does hear and he acts according to the big picture – his will.
 Eric J. Bargerhuff. The Most Misused Verses in the Bible (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2012). 59-60.
 Ibid., 60.
 Ibid., 61.