John 16.23-24 cont.
23 And in that day you will not ask Me for anything. In all sincerity I tell you that whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give it to you.
(alternative reading: whatever you ask the Father, He will give it to you in My name)
24 Up until now you have not asked for anything in My Name. Ask, and you will receive, so that your joy may be completely full.
When Jesus preceded what He was going to say with the words: ‘In all sincerity’, it meant that there was a particular importance about what He was going to say.
The words actually mean: ‘Truly, truly’, indicating the weight and depth of what was to follow.
Today, many people might say that they swear that what they say is true, or they might say ‘on my life’, or swear on someone’s grave. In a court of Law people swear on the Bible to tell the truth, or they make a solemn declaration to do so.
It is all done to express the importance and unquestioning nature of what they are about to say.
Jesus had something very important for His disciples to grasp, and it was that they could ask the Father whatever they wanted.
This was for them to progress from being able to ask Jesus, to being able to ask the Father, because He was to be no longer with them. These were words of assurance, telling them that they were not going to be left without being able to have the access to the Father to ask whatever.
The same is also true for us. We can have confidence to ask our Father ‘whatever’ because Jesus has opened up the way for us through His death of the cross.
Jesus also told His disciples, and us, of the certainty of the Father granting what we ask is only guaranteed if we ask in His name. This means that whatever request we make to the Father must be in agreement with the will of Jesus. Therefore, such requests are not conditioned by our human wants, which may well be selfish. Instead they are conditioned by the revealed will of Jesus to us.
This is what it means to pray in the Holy Spirit at all times.
In Elliott’s commentary he states that the alternative reading is to be preferred:
whatever you ask the Father, He will give it to you in My name.
This moves the emphasis away from our asking in the name of Jesus, to the Father answering in the name of Jesus. Perhaps it is better for us to understand that it is the name of Jesus that is the guarantee that our prayers are heard and granted.