Reading the Word
John 16:23–28 (ESV)
23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
Understanding and Applying the Word
This is a passage that is often misunderstood. Many take Jesus’ words in verse 23 to mean that God will give us anything we ask for as long as we do it correctly. This is where the custom of closing our prayers with the phrase “in Jesus’ name” originates. Many will also add that the one praying must have sufficient faith or the prayer will not be effective. Again, this comes from a misunderstanding of this passage.
It is important to notice a couple of things. Jesus already said something very similar in John 15:7, where he said:
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7, ESV)
Notice that the answer to our prayers is tied to our abiding in Jesus. Also, in our passage today, we are told that we must ask “in Jesus’ name.” This does not mean simply throwing a certain phrase onto the end of our prayers. This means that our prayers should be consistent with the will and desires of Jesus. When we take these two passages together, we see that our prayers are answered when we are asking for the things that Jesus desires. When our lives are lived in such a way that our desires and Christ’s desires are the same, we can pray with confidence that God hears and answers our prayers. We can start by asking God to help us to be more like Jesus.
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