If You Name It, Can You Claim It?
Read John 14:12-14 (ESV)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
Does this verse mean that Jesus is obligated to answer all of our prayer requests the way we want Him to?
When little kids ask for something, adults often say, “What’s the magic word?” Once the child says “please,” the adult gives the child what they asked for. It reminds me of prosperity preachers. They pray for health and wealth “in Jesus’ name.” They treat Jesus’ name like the “magic words.” They tell people that if they pray in His name, they can “name it and claim it.” Sadly, they often take today’s verses out of context to promise people all sorts of things which only sets them up for disappointment and disillusionment. But if today’s verses don’t mean that we can treat God like a genie, what do they mean?
Remember the context. Jesus was addressing His disciples, preparing them for His departure. They were probably bewildered and scared. For three years, they counted on Jesus for everything they had. If they had a question, they could ask Him directly. Now He was leaving them? What were they going to do without Him?
Well, Jesus reassured them with an answer to that question—everyone who believed in Him was going to carry on His work. He even said that they will do greater things than He did! What an incredible promise! Now, Jesus didn’t mean that they would be even more powerful than He is. But He did mean that their works would be greater in their extent.
In the book of Acts we read that the disciples were able to heal the sick and cast out demons (Acts 5:12-16). In Acts 9:36-42, Peter even brought a woman named Tabitha (Dorcas) back to life! Paul also raised a man from the dead after he fell asleep during his sermon and fell from the third story window (Act 20:7-12). They did the same kind of miraculous works that Jesus did. But the scope of their ministry and the extent of the results were much greater.
Jesus ministered only in the Holy Land and mainly to the Jews but He commissioned His followers to go into all the world (Matthew 28:19-20). When the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost, about three thousand people were saved in one day (Acts 2:41)! Now, the Gospel has spread globally, to both Jew and Gentile, and has impacted the entire world! What would they do without Him? Well, with the power of the Holy Spirit, amazing things!
Then, Jesus promised that whatever they asked for in His name, they’d receive. This wasn’t like a spiritual blank check. This was an invitation to prayer. Even though Jesus would be physically gone from them, they could still seek Him through prayer and He would still provide for them.
In 1 John 5:15, John further explained: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. “That is the key. When we pray, we have to pray according to His will and consistent with His character. In other words, our wants and desires have to line up with His.
James 4:3 says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” There is a right and a wrong way to pray. Asking God to fulfill your every desire and every whim is clearly selfish and not what Jesus intended here.
Rather, Jesus’ intention was to comfort and reassure His followers that even though He was no longer with them, they would still have access to communicate with Him and that He would still provide for them. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Friends, we are not to “name it and claim it” but we are supposed to turn to our Lord in prayer, ask Him to provide for our needs, align ourselves with His will, and ask that all of it be done for His glory.
Lord, thank You for teaching us how to pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:9-13). Amen.
Reveal: Spend some time with a friend talking about your prayer requests. Help each other to see if they are consistent with God and His character.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford