Glory. Do you see that word in the verse? I see it emblazoned across the chest of Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father. I see it radiating from the throne of God as flashes of rainbow-coloured brilliance. I hear Jesus’ focused intent to align every part of His being with one purpose: to glorify the Father.
Having set that picture firmly in mind, we are better able to understand this amazing promise Jesus makes to His disciples, to you and to me. He reveals a new sort of access He is making available to those of us who are His followers. He is describing that part of prayer we sometimes refer to as supplication, asking Him for something. This part intrigues me. Jesus makes a bold promise that is breathtaking in application; He is saying we have access to limitless power: “ask me for anything…and I will do it”!
Now either that was a lie, or I’ve missed something. I’ve asked for things that never materialized. You have too. Jesus is no liar, so what have we misunderstood?
I was thinking about someone else who asked Jesus for something and failed to tap into that limitless power, and it happens to be the fellow who is relating this promise. The apostle John, here writing some 50 years after the ministry phase of Jesus’ life on earth, is featured in an earlier anecdote mentioned in a couple of the other gospels (though not his own). John and his brother James come to Jesus one day, telling Him “we want you to do for us whatever we ask”(Mark 10:35). Did they know Jesus would later use almost these very same words in His pre-death promise to them? They were asking Jesus to put them into positions of power and authority in His ultimate kingdom. They wanted in on the glory they envisioned. They imagined themselves wielding some of His limitless power. Jesus was clear in His answer: No. They couldn’t have what they asked.
So what has changed? How does Jesus now make an unrestricted promise? Well, it’s not actually unrestricted, and you’ve been wondering when I might mention the little phrase, “in my name”. Look at it. It’s in there twice. It’s also in a few other verses nearby (John 15:16 and 16:23,24, & 26). You might even find more references to it, because it is rather important.
“In my name” is Jesus’ way of describing that the pivotal nature of our requests must represent Him. They must be requests that He would ask of the Father in the same situation. They must “bring glory to the Father”.
So, yes, in a way, we have access to limitless power, but not for our glory. The limitless power is and always will be uniquely God’s domain. Yet when we submit to Him fully, mysteriously entering into this oneness with Him Jesus keeps talking about, His power works through us. His glory is magnified. I still don’t understand it. The apostle John might not have either. But rather than asking for the stars, we position ourselves better for answered prayer when we fall at His feet in awe. His glory must be primary in our thinking. Would my request bring Him glory, or is it in some way intended to bring me glory, power or ease? These questions are worth asking. I suggest we praying people carefully investigate the motives behind our wishes. Then, if His glory would be magnified by the request, take a deep breath and ask for anything.
- Prayer: We Get the Help, He Gets the Glory (phenum01.com)