Q. Jesus said in Jn 14:14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. I know He did not mean tagging “in Jesus’ name” to everything I ask, e.g. to win the lottery, but is it really anything? What about the salvation of family and friends? Surely that is according to His will, but not everyone is saved.
A. First, Jn 14:14 is a conditional “if” statement, the condition being to ask “in My (Jesus) name”. If the condition is fulfilled, the petitioner can ask anything and Jesus will do it. So the key turns on “in My name”. What does that mean? The phrase “in My name” appears 17 times in the NT, 16 times of which are in the gospels referring to Jesus, and once in 1 Co 1:15 referring to Paul, which we can ignore since our focus is on “in Jesus name”.
To these we might add the phrase “in His name”, which appear 6 times in the NT, all referring to Jesus. The complete list is as follows, with the verse in italics and my comment in regular font:
“In My name”
• Mt 18:5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; (also Mk 9:37; Lk 9:48) Here “In My name” = Me, as if the person was receiving Jesus
• Mt 18:20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Jesus is in the midst of those who gather in His name. “In My name” represents Jesus personally.
• Mt 24:5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. (also Mk 13:6; Lk 21:8) Those who come “In My name” present themselves as if they were Christ. Again “In My name” = Me
• Mk 9:39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. “In My name” = in My authority
• Mk 16:17 These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; Again “In My name” = in My authority
• Jn 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. “In My name” = as if I was asking it, according to My will
• Jn 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. “In My name” = to replace Me, as My substitute
• Jn 15:16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. “in My name” = as if I was asking
• Jn 16:23-24 Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full. Again, “in My name” = as if I was asking
• Jn 16:26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; “in My name” = as if I was asking
“In His name”
• Mt 12:21 “AND IN HIS NAME THE GENTILES WILL HOPE.” “in His name” = in Him
• Lk 24:47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. “in His name” = in His authority
• Jn 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, “in His name” = in Him
• Jn 2:23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. “in His name” = in Him
• Jn 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. “in His name” = in Him
• Acts 3:16 And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; “in His name” = in Him
On the basis of all the passages, “in My name” means as Jesus Himself would have asked, personally, according to His will and, in His authority. Now if you ask like that, of course you could ask anything and He will do it, since it is His will. You would not be asking anything selfishly, in your own interest, not for the Father’s glory.
Concerning the salvation of your family and friends, I believe not only your wish and the Lord’s desire are involved:
• 1 Tim 2:4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
• 2 Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
but also that of your family and friends:
• Mt 23:37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
So notwithstanding your and our Lord’s desire to save them, if they are unwilling to repent, the Lord will not force them. Each of us is responsible before God to follow Him or reject His offer of salvation.