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"Whatever You Ask in My Name, I Will Do"
May 6th Readings Reflection: Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter
“And whatever you ask in [M]y name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of [M]e in [M]y name, I will do it.”
These words at the end of today’s Gospel are a beautiful promise from Jesus, yet it can be easy to question their veracity in light of our personal experiences. For Christians, praying in Jesus’ name is easy, for we usually address all of our prayers to Him either directly or through the intercession of His Blessed Mother or the saints. Why, then, do so many of our prayers seem to go unanswered?
The Fathers of the Church discussed this in detail, providing an answer to the apparent contradiction in today’s Gospel. St. Augustine explained that God sometimes does not answer our prayers if we are asking for something less than perfect: “When a man would make a bad use of what he asks for, God in His mercy does not grant him it.” St. Augustine further explained that this includes everything that might “hinder our salvation.”
In the Our Father, the perfect prayer that Jesus taught us, we first pray for God’s Kingdom to come and His Will to be done before we begin listing our petitions. This puts us into the right mindset for our prayer, serving as a reminder that God’s Will comes before our own. God is omniscient, meaning that He is all-knowing, and He knows what is best for us in every situation. This does not always align with our wills and can result in our prayers seeming to go unanswered. Such prayers, according to St. Augustine, are not truly offered in Jesus’ name. Only those prayers that are in accordance with God’s holy Will and beneficial for our salvation are offered in Jesus’ name.
In the verse immediately following today’s Gospel reading, Jesus instructed His disciples, “If you love [M]e, keep [M]y commandments” (Jn 14:15 DRB). St. John Chrysostom, another Father of the Church, pointed out that this correlates with praying in Jesus’ name. In order to discern God’s Will, we must be true disciples of Him by practicing charity and humble obedience to His commandments. This in turn enables us to grow closer to God so that our prayers are more in union with His Will. We can then truly pray in Jesus’ name, confident that He will answer our prayers in accordance with His holy Will.