A radio host interviewing me about my latest book, The Age of Promise, recently asked for my “life verse,” which I guess is sort of a favorite verse that summarizes one’s purpose or theology or something. I’ve never been able to nail that idea down, though it is quite entertaining to read the various definitions of it. Regardless, I had an idea of what she was asking, so I gave her one related to the book. But imagine if you could have one magic verse that unlocked everything in life for you. Here’s the one I would pick: “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13).
Wouldn’t that be great? Just name it, tag Jesus’ name onto it, and poof!, there it is. For years, I thought that it was generally supposed to work that way. When it didn’t, I figured that I was either not “in Jesus’ name,” whatever that meant, or that I had just asked “amiss,” as James alluded to in his epistle (James 4:3). Of course, both were probably true in many cases, but I also know that there were times when I asked for something not for myself when I was fully abiding in Christ, like when my younger sister was battling cancer. Still, she died.
Creeping in the back of my mind was the sinister idea: It’s because you didn’t have enough faith. What a horrible thought! I never doubted God could heal her, nor did my parents, the rest of our family, and certainly not my sister herself. Believe me, if it was a matter of faith, she had enough for all of us. If God wanted to heal hear, nothing on earth could have stopped Him.
So what is going on with that promise? We asked and God didn’t do it, or so it seemed.
When we look at the context of that statement, we find Jesus proclaiming to His disciples that He and the Father are one. He then tells them, “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).
In order to understand it, I had to go back to the eight Greek words that make up verse 13: hos aiteo onoma poieo hina pater doxazo huios. It could be rendered, “Whatever is needed for those under my authority, I will provide in order that the Father can magnify the Son.”
Those who ask are not the focal point of the statement. In fact, the Greek word for “you” (su) is not there, nor is it in similar statements in Matthew 7:7 and 21:22. It’s not “whatever you ask for, you get.” The key is the conjunction “in order that.” Whatever is asked under Christ’s authority, He will provide in order that He is glorified. We ask, and He provides in such a way that He receives the glory.
That changes everything. And that’s precisely what our family saw through the sorrow of losing my sister. God was glorified – even in her pain and in her passing.
The purpose of fulfillment is not to please the asker, but to allow Christ to be magnified. The key is in the relationship. Being “in Jesus’ name” means operating under his command and authority, which ties in with His next sentence: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
So learn His voice, hear it, and ask away. Don’t be afraid to ask. Our loving Father isn’t anxious for the opportunity to condemn us or prove our lack of faith – remember, He only asked for faith the size of a mustard seed. Just know that His promised answer will always come in a way that glorifies Him. In that, we can all rejoice.