WHATEVER I ask? Really, Lord?

I came across a scripture passage not long ago that made me stop and think. John 14:8-14 is a familiar passage. It's the one where Philip tells Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." I can almost see Jesus shaking his head when he replies, "Don’t you know me, even after I’ve been with you for such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." He expounds on that for a few sentences, then says something extraordinary. "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

The first time I can remember hearing a message about that scripture was back when I was 17 years old. A preacher told us that we could ask for anything in the name of Jesus, and God would give it to us. He told lots of stories about people who had claimed things in the name of Jesus and received them – money to pay a large bill. A new winter coat. A car when theirs had broken down beyond repair. Being 17, my ears perked up at the mention of a car. At that time I drove a 1966 VW Beetle that had been driven off a cliff by the teenage boy who owned it prior to me. Because so many body parts had been replaced, it was three different colors, and the mangled hood was held down by a twisted coat hanger.

I walked away from that sermon thinking, “God loves me, and he wants me to have whatever I want, so all I have to do is pick out a car and ask for it in Jesus’ name.” So that week I went down to the car dealer and picked out a brand new shiny blue car. Oh, it was so beautiful. It was a Dodge Spirit – a Spirit! How more appropriate could that be? Surely God would give me a car called a Spirit. So I laid my hand on the hood, and said, “Lord, I want this car. I want it bad. I’m asking for it in the Name of Jesus.” I believed I was going to get that car. I had faith. And every time I went by that car dealer, I spoke positive words – “That’s my car. God is going to give me that car because I claimed it in the Name of Jesus.”

Guess what? I didn’t get that car. Now, Jesus himself promised me that the Father would give me whatever I asked for in His Name. Why didn’t he give me that car?

My mom said something in a sermon not long ago that made everything clear to me. She said, “A person’s name is so much more than the label they answer to. A name represents their very nature. Their name is who they are.”

The Name of Jesus isn’t to be used like magical words, “Abra Cadabra. Presto!” Instead, God intends that we become like Jesus. We’re to reflect his nature, his character. To bear the Name of Jesus means his nature is displayed in every act, every word, every thought.

When we do that, then we don’t ask for things to satisfy our selfish desires. The things we ask for are the very things Jesus himself asks for. When our lives take on the nature and character of Jesus, we will receive whatever we ask for in that holy Name.