“You will do even greater things…” John 14:12
I sometimes wonder if folks know what they’re doing when they end a prayer with, “In Jesus’ name.” For most, it may be habit; for others it may be to honor Him, but for some, it is a call on Jesus to keep a promise made a couple of times in John’s Gospel: “I will do whatever you ask for in my name…” (John 14:13), and “Whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give you.” (John 15:16b)
When we pray for a healing, or have a problem that needs fixing, or really, really want Something, some could think “If I add those three little words at the end of my prayer,my wishes-demands-hopes will come true.” When we don’t get what we pray for, if the healing doesn’t happen, or the problem persists (through no fault of our own, of course!), or if we never are handed that Something we want, we might think that Jesus is not keeping His promise; that there are some prayers that are not answered, that God is not paying attention to our lives and needs and hearts!
The truth is that All prayers are answered, Always. But it is in God’s own time, and way, and for our best selves. It may be that we are praying for oranges, for example, and God gives us avocados, or brussel sprouts, or cilantro, or apples, instead. The healing we pray for may happen in the arms of Jesus in the Life to Come; the problem may erupt into a fissure that leads to a new life and outlook; the Something we desire may be off the market or recalled before it arrives in our lives.
The scriptures above are spoken by Jesus after His Last Supper with the Disciples, before the prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane, before His Execution, before His Resurrection, before His Ascension, before the Church is born, before being a Christian was a main stream thing to do, before our Post-Christian world came into being. But the truth of these chapters is still true today: God answers prayer. And God wants the very best for us.
When we are doing the work of Christ; when we are building the Kingdom; when we love one another as He loves us (John 15: 12), truly then everything we ask in the name of Jesus will be done, and we “will do even greater things than these (the signs of Jesus), because [He has gone] to the Father.” It is not the ritual of the words that leads to answered prayers, but the Spirit in our hearts. Our prayers will be answered because we will be asking from the Spirit of Christ who lives in us.
The Message says it this way in John 14:12-14: “The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you do in this way, I’ll do.”
May we each grow into the person God made us to be, and may we live in such a way that the Kingdom of God, revealed in Jesus of Nazareth the Christ, by His Spirit, be made manifest on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name. Amen.