It is exceedingly interesting to notice in the four encouragements to prayer which the Lord stated in John 14, 15, and 16, that each presents a different thought to the other.
The encouragement is very great in them all.
First in John 14:13-14, He says, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in My name I will do it.” Let us lay hold of the fact that “whatsoever” covers the whole range of our petitions, great or small, qualified only by the condition of His name.
That being fulfilled, He pledged Himself, in all the power of His present place in heaven, to accomplish it, and in order, He adds, “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
He will do it for that end. The glory of the Father is bound up in the response by the Son to the poor feeble cry of His people. It is enhanced (wondrous to say) by the gracious way in which our “whatsoever” is acknowledged by the Son. What immense encouragement for prayer. “I will do it,” He says, not for any object inferior to the glory of the Father. What a motive. Can we not urge such a plea in seeking from the Lord the doing of whatsoever we ask? No plea could be more effective. It means not the glory or relief of the suppliant, nor even the glory of the Lord Himself, but that of the Father.
Then, second, in John 15:7, He says, “If ye abide in Me and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.” How large? In what respect, if any, does “what ye will” differ from “whatsoever”? Only in that it expresses the will, the desire, the energy of heart and soul. In such cry there is no formality, nothing stereotyped nor conventional. It is the triumphant heart-sob of the Syrophenician mother, or the intelligent prayer of an Epaphras. “Ye shall ask what ye will.” The will of the suppliant coincides and harmonizes with that of the Lord. He abides in the vine. The words of Christ abide in him. There is therefore unison of desire and of will. The purpose is one. Therefore “ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.” The answer is freely given on the part both of the Father and the Son. How great the result of thus abiding in the vine—thus walking with Christ.
Again, in verse 16 of the same chapter: “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you.”
“Go and bring forth fruit”—the great apostolic mission primarily, but, surely, beyond that. Service, however, is in question, and the fruit-bearing that glorifies the Father; and so, in this line of thought, our “whatsoever” of prayer is addressed to the Father, but necessarily in the name of the Son, for both Father and Son are engaged in the glorious testimony of the Gospel and in the edification of the saints.
“Whatsoever” covers this mission in all its precious details. It is the one chief work of heaven today. And so the Apostles declared in Acts 6, “We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.”
May such an example encourage the oft-discouraged hearts of Christ’s beloved servants, and also the fact that it is the Father, solicited by them in the name of the Son, Who is pleased to give the answer.
Finally, in John 16:23, He added “Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father, in My name, he will give it you”—the same words as previously, but no mere repetition. Why? “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”
Here we have the wealth and prevailing power of the name of the Son.
Why the name? Because the Person is absent. That is always implied when you go in the name of any one; but, if you do so, you represent that one, be he never so great and yourself never so insignificant. The name is the title.
Oh! in our frequent use of the name of the Lord do we realize what it means to the Father? Is it a mere formula or the habitual rounding-off of a petition?
Did we only enter into its deep meaning, would not our prayers be more worthy, more expectant of an answer, and become an exercise of surpassing interest.
Our “joy would be full.”