16:23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."
Nothing? They have asked nothing? What a strange thing to say. The 4 accounts of Jesus life in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all record the disciples asking lots of questions. One of their questions was specifically about prayer. It was a pretty direct request too: "Lord teach us to pray."
It was in response to that request that we now have what is famously called 'The Lord's Prayer.' So these 12 men (now 11) have walked and talked with Jesus for over three years. They have asked Him lots of questions. They have performed miracles of healing and cast demons out of people. Jesus even taught them to pray.
Now after all this Jesus says: "At this point you have still never once asked anything in My Name." How is that possible?
I clearly remember as a young person being taught in youth class how to pray "properly". We were taught you must begin by addressing God the Father and end by saying "in Jesus name I pray"... I can see where the formula came from but I now believe it is a foolish byproduct of our obsession with formulaic religion. We treat God as a Being to be controlled by praying just right or behaving just right or believing just right. This of course is pure paganism. It is no different than a witch mixing just the right brew in order to get the results she wants. God is not a vending machine in the sky or a password locked "blessings program". Prayer is not a vehicle to pull the strings of a puppet god. Adding "in Jesus name" as a mantra to the end of our requests does not unlock the reluctance of God and force Him into action on our behalf.
So what in the world did Jesus mean when He said "You have asked nothing in My name?"
Name. That's the key to understanding what He was saying. In the Bible name refers to character. To ask in His name is to ask in harmony with His character. In simpler terms it means asking for what He would ask for. How can we pray asking for what He would ask for if He were in our situation? Again simple. We would have to know His character so well that His thinking becomes our thinking.
The 11 are not there yet. Why? Because they don't understand His character yet. They are far more obsessed with self preservation and self advancement than they are with anything else. It's not even their fault. They were raised to see the coming Messiah as one who would improve their standing in the world rather than one who would change their hearts.
Too often religion is a formulaic system for self advancement rather than a pursuit of the heart of God.
I can't ask in His Name until I know His heart...
"Face to face with Christ my Saviour, face to face what will it be? When with rapture I behold Him, Jesus Christ who died for me."
Many saw Him. Few saw HIM.