When we pray in Jesus’ name, the Father is glorified in the Son as he answers our prayers. The more we ask in Jesus’ name, the more glory goes to the Father, right? And he will provide anything we ask, right? Bring it on. It’s a name-it-and-claim it-fest… or not.
13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Matthew 7:16-18, 21-23
2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
In Matthew 7, however, Jesus predicts that there will be people who try to get into heaven who do not know Jesus, using his name as the password. Didn’t we do x, y, and z in your name, Jesus? The trouble is that they won’t have fruit which matches their words, and they won’t have done the will of the Father.
And so we see that Jesus isn’t so much as providing a recipe as he is a piece of a larger puzzle. Yes, we are to pray for things in Jesus’ name. And yes, when God provides for us in Jesus’ name the Father is glorified in the Son. The ‘whatever’ you ask in Jesus’ name has a couple of holy caveats on it, however, and no one is trying to trick anyone.
Jesus isn’t saying one thing and meaning another. He is speaking in the context of God’s will to people who will bear fruit in keeping with God’s will and plan – in keeping with true faith in him.
James helps to clarify when we do not receive what we ask for in Jesus’ name. He says that when we ask we often have wrong motives which are focused on ourselves, rather than being focused on the will of the Father and pleasing him. We get caught up, James says, in friendship with the world…
Pray in the name of Jesus,
And in doing so bring glory to the Father.
Ask God to reveal his will as you pray,
That you might request answers in keeping with his will.
Keep your motives pure in prayer.