Sermon by St. Augustine the Bishop
We have now to consider these words of the Lord: Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my Name, he will give it you. It hath already been said in the previous part of this Sunday's discourse (for the benefit of those who ask the Father in Christ's Name and receive not), that whatsoever is asked, which tendeth not to salvation, is not asked in the Name of the Saviour. By the words: In my Name: we must not understand the vocalization of letter and syllables, but the meaning of what is said, the honest and true meaning of the words: In my Name.
Hence, whosoever thinketh that Christ is not the only-begotten Son of God, such an one doth not ask anything in Christ's Name, even though he do actually utter letters and syllables to that effect, because by these sounds he meaneth not the real Christ, but a fancied being who hath no existence except in the speaker's imagination. But on the other hand, whosoever thinketh of Christ as he ought to think, the same asketh in Christ's Name, and receiveth, provided only it be nothing against his own everlasting salvation; but if it be good for him to receive, he receiveth. Some things are not given at once, but kept over till a more fitting season. Such is the true interpretation of the words: He will give it you: namely, that to them that ask, all such things will be given as are good for them. All the saints also are heard when they ask for themselves, but not necessarily when they ask for their friends or their enemies, or others, even as it is written, not simply: He will give it: but rather: He will give it to you.
Hitherto, saith the Lord, have ye asked nothing in my Name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. This their joy, whereof he saith that it shall be full, is to be understood not of fleshly but of spiritual joy; and when that joy is so great that it can be increased no more, then shall it without doubt be full. Therefore, whatsoever is asked which concerneth the fulfilling of this joy (that is, if we thereby aspire to receive God's grace, and so do ask for that life which is the really blessed one), that same is a thing which it is meet to ask in Christ's Name. If we ask anything else than this, we ask nothing (even though we think within ourselves that we are asking for something), because all things are nothing in comparison with this.