Our Sunday School class the other day was based on the first 26 verses of John 14. We had a lively discussion on the Trinity, which, of course, no one among us understands fully. We talked about how we have one God but that He is actually three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We all understand that He is one, but that He is also three distinct persons, but none of us could explain exactly how that works. I’d be quite leery of anyone claiming to understand this fully and clearly. This is one of those things Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 13, when he said in verse 12: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” This is simply one of those things none of us can fully understand in this life.
As interesting as this discussion was, my eyes kept wandering back to verses 13 and 14, which read as follows:
- 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.
This is one of those scriptures which many take out of context and misinterpret. I’ve heard many followers of the prosperity gospel take this as license to ask for better jobs, Cadillacs, yachts, and other things. Then they become disillusioned when they are not given what they ask for. After all, they concluded their prayers with “In the name of Jesus,” or “In Christ’s name,” thinking that bound Jesus to fulfill their wishes.
Many of these people who follow the teachings of those who proclaim God will make them all rich actually claim what they pray for. I’m claiming a brand-new Lincoln Town Car in the name of Jesus. I claim a new job at double my current salary in the name of Jesus.
This perversion of the gospel is based upon a misinterpretation—or wrong teaching—of the word name. When Jesus says “ask in My name . . .” He’s not simply saying to attach his name to the end of your request.
In Jesus’s time, a name went far beyond just an appellation by which to call someone. It included the whole person, and more particularly, his character. When Jesus says to pray in His name—and by the way, Christ is not His name; it’s His title—He is saying to pray in His character. Did Jesus live a life of wealth and prestige? Not only is the answer to that question a resounding “no,” but He didn’t even concern Himself with such things.
Does this mean Jesus doesn’t want you to prosper financially? Not at all. He may give you millions of dollars—but not necessarily. His first priority in your life and mine is to conform us to His image. To perfect us so His Father can present Him with a spotless bride. This is the goal of His character, and all the naming and claiming in the world will not change it. He loves us far too much to allow the desires of our flesh to stop Him from achieving His goal of perfecting us.
What is your understanding of “ask in My name?”
If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.
For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.
Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.