Summary: Jesus’ words tell us to “ask for anything”? Is that for real? “Ask for anything”?
When Jesus tells you to “ask” in our Gospel reading, He tells you to pray in His name. When our Lord says, “Whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you,” He tells you that true prayer is never a waste of breath. For Jesus gives you His word that God the Father will hear your prayers and act on them. And when Christ the Lord promises “that your joy may be complete,” He tells you the benefit of praying in His name.
But did you hear Jesus’ words to “ask for anything”? Is that for real? “Ask for anything”? “Do you know how often I’ve asked God for something, and nothing happened? That must be a mistake. Oh, how often I’ve begged God to give me something. And what did I get? Nothing! My prayers were all in vain.”
Dearly beloved, true prayer, prayer in the name of Jesus, isn’t something we can do on our own. Oh, we hear Jesus say “whatever you ask,” but we’re clueless about what praying in Jesus’ name means. Jesus had to teach His disciples to pray--and they were Jews who grew up praying and lived with Jesus for three years! Yet Jesus had to teach them to pray because they had no idea what true prayer was or even how to do it.
Praying in Jesus’ name doesn’t mean that you simply utter the noise, that you simply make the vocal sounds and say “Jesus.” If that were the case, how did God the Father hear the prayers of the Old Testament saints? By faith, they believed in the Messiah to come, but Jesus didn’t have that man’s name until He had man’s flesh from the Blessed Virgin Mary.
If you pray, simply tacking on the words, “In Jesus’ name” to end a prayer, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s praying in Jesus’ name. Jesus’ name isn’t some good-luck charm. Jesus’ name isn’t some magical incantation. Praying in Jesus’ name doesn’t mean that you may ask for anything you want--because you attached the name of Jesus to your prayer--and that makes it acceptable to God. That may not even be real prayer. It may be nothing but sin pretending to be a prayer!
Simply saying “in Jesus’ name,” and naming it and claiming it as your own, doesn’t mean that God is duty bound to give it to you. It’s a lie that says if you pray hard enough and long enough and yearn for it enough, you will receive whatever you pray for from God. It’s a lie that says that if you pray that way, God cannot deny you. Is our God really that weak and wishy-washy?
Think about it. Do you really want to pray for something that may be against the will of God? Since when does faith want to do anything contrary to God’s will? No, such a theology of prayer is from Satan and it feeds the beast of our sinful flesh.
Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer to ask that God’s will be done--not ours! Praying in Jesus’ Name is simply another way of saying that. So prayer in Jesus’ name is praying that no matter what you may want, you want God’s will to be done--even if means overriding and changing what you actually prayed for!