“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! — John 14:12-14
E. M. Bounds (1835-1913), was a Methodist Episcopal preacher who is best known for his 11 books written on the subject of prayer, 9 of which were published after his death. They continue to be among the most read on the subject today and his quotations are limitless. This is one of his best:
“Prayer is the contact of a living soul with God. In prayer, God stoops to kiss man, to bless man, and to aid in everything that God can devise or man can need.”
Perhaps Bounds had the scene of the “Last Supper” in mind, when Jesus spoke the words of this powerful text from John 14, as He and His closest friends were celebrating their last Passover on earth together. Holy kisses would have been shared by Him after the meal as they then made their way down through the Kidron valley and up to the Garden of Gethsemane, located at the base of the Mount of Olives. However, one kiss would remain, that of the betrayal of Judas Iscariot, who had gone ahead of them. He would soon collect his infamous “thirty pieces of silver” for his treason before he hanged himself in sorrow (Matthew 26:15, 27:5).
Our Lord, knowing what was soon to happen, was more deeply concerned for His disciples than He was for Himself. Remember, they had never prayed to Jesus before. He wanted them to know they could. To understand this first principle of prayer that would result in great power and comfort and direction in His absence, let’s look at this promise:
I tell you the truth. This was one of our Lord’s favorite expressions. It is recorded 78 times in the gospels. Literally, it says, “Amen, Amen, I am saying to you.” The word “Amen” is transliterated from the Hebrew word meaning, to be firm, steady or trustworthy, rendered also as “truth.” It is repeated twice for emphasis. When Jesus used that phrase, it was always followed by an absolute truth.
Anyone who believes in me. Anyone means anyone—no high religious credentials, seminary degrees or exceptional piety required—just a trusting heart. This is the primary requirement of answered prayer—we must believe—the same step of faith that brought us into our relationship with Jesus in the beginning. If we could trust Jesus with our eternal souls then—can we not trust Him to answer our requests now?
He will do the same and even greater works. What were the works that Jesus did while on the earth? Matthew sums them up nicely: teaching, preaching, healing and demonstrating compassion on the helpless (Matthew 9:35-36). But—you might ask, “How could I ever do greater works than what He did?” Answer? Jesus performed His works in three and a half years. In numbers, you will have a lifetime—when you believe (1 John 3:18)!
You can ask for anything in My name and I will do it. This is a promise that cannot be broken—because our Lord declared it as an absolute truth, attested to by His Name. Now, only one condition remains.
That the Son can bring glory to the Father. The answer to our prayers must always lead to the glorification of our heavenly Father—never self-exaltation. I love the way one doctrinal statement reads, “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”* That includes our prayers.
Our reasons for praying, petitioning, interceding and asking God for anything must always be with the purpose that the Father would receive glory from the answer. We pray in the name of Jesus, knowing that the majesty of the answer will always come because of our intimate relationship with Him.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who
are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly. — Psalm 146:8
*Westminster Shorter Catechism.