Sensible words from N.T. Wright about John 14:14: “When you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.”
The all-important phrase ‘in my name’ doesn’t, of course, just mean adding ‘in the name of Jesus’ to anything we might think of, however stupid, selfish or hurtful. The ‘name’, after all, as in many cultures, is supposed to reveal the character. Yesterday I looked out of the window and saw some demonstrators protesting against something the government was doing: ‘Not in my name!’ their posters said. What they meant was: ‘You are claiming to represent this country, but I am dissociating myself from what you’re doing! You’re not doing it in my name!’
Praying ‘in Jesus’ name’, then, means that, as we get to know who Jesus is, so we find ourselves drawn into his life and love and sense of purpose. We will then begin to see what needs doing, what we should be aiming at within our sphere of possibilities, and what resources we need to do it. When we then ask, it will be ‘in Jesus’ name’, and to his glory; and, through that, to the glory of the father himself (verse 13). But, when all this is understood, we shouldn’t go soft on that marvellous word anything. He said it, and he means it.
I love that phrase “what we should be aiming at within our sphere of possibilities.”
1. N.T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part 2 (Louisville: WJK, 2004), 63-4.