“Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete” (Jn 16:24). What does it mean to ask for something in the Lord’s name? Is Jesus’ name some sort of magic word that confers an irresistible power to whomever wields it? That cannot be it, for Jesus declares, ““Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’” (Mt 7:21-23). So what, then, does it mean to ask for something in Jesus’ name?
Perhaps we can get a better sense of what it means to ask for something in Jesus’ name if we consider in whose name Jesus comes—not his own name, but that of the Father (cf. Jn 5:43). Because Jesus comes in the name of the Father, he can affirm, “I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me” (Jn 5:30). And yet, there is no one as sovereignly free as this man who “cannot do anything on his own;” whatever Jesus asks for in seeking the will of the one who sent him is what Jesus truly desires.