And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:13-14)
Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. (John 15:16)
In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and you joy will be complete. (John 16:23-24)
Evangelicals have made a habit of concluding all prayers with some form of the phrase “in Jesus name” with only a vague notion of why they do so. In many cases, it has taken on the veneer of a magical incantation, as if by including these words the prayer is guaranteed to be fulfilled. Kind of an abracadabra for Christians.
A person’s name is how we know them. Our family and friends are not disembodied beings that we know by their features; the big one, the red haired one. We know them by their names and associate all that they are to us in that name. Say the name of your wife or husband. Not only do you see his or her face in your mind but you get the full sense of your love for that person. You feel exactly what they mean to you.
So it is with the name of Jesus. He’s not just a man. He is Lord. His name represents all that that means to us. Praying in His name says two things. One, we are His representatives, serving Him and what we do carries the full force of His Lordship. Second, when asking for what we need to accomplish His will, we ask in the full force and credit of our Lord. What we ask to fulfill His will is not denied. The empowerment we desire to fulfill His will is not denied.
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)
Ask and it will given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 12:12-13)
Saved is saved but saved is not always righteous. When salvation is graced upon us, we are recipients of the righteousness of Christ. This transfers places us in right standing before the Father, cleansed and released from our bondage to sin. A newborn in the world, weak and needing to mature. Many Christians never leave the cradle and then ponder aloud why their prayer seems to be weak and ineffectual.
The fact that their lives bear no fruit may have something to do with it.
Our Savior repeatedly teaches us that we are to be growing into a life of increased righteousness and piety. We are to be diligent about becoming better at keeping His commands and obeying all that He has taught us. Only with this obedience will come the power in prayer that we so earnestly desire. We cannot have one without the other. Christ must be first and foremost in our life before our prayer will have the depth and response that it was meant for. Anything else would cheapen the unfathomable price of the grace we receive.
image jf sebastian
To borrow and paraphrase from St. James, Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak… . This commends the lesson our Lord taught concerning prayer with these words:
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. (John 15:7)
Herein lies the greatest reason for ‘unanswered’ prayer. Our weakness in receiving answer to our prayer is the result of our weakness in discipleship. We fail to feed on God’s word and to hide it in our hearts. Yes, God himself dwells within in the form of the Spirit but it is His Word that bring his voice to life. If we are building up a steady reserve of Scripture within ourselves, day after day, God’s will is no mystery and the answer to our prayers is crystal clear.
On the other hand, if our dialog with God sounds much like our own voice and will, we will find ourselves at a loss to understand the riches that He wants us to receive. It is impossible to pray correctly when we do not know the teachings of our Lord because it is also impossible to believe the right things. Meaningful prayer is preceded by deep discipleship. Feed daily on the Scriptures and God’s voice will ring out when you approach Him. Circumstances that had at one time seemed contrary to your prayers will make perfect sense as a deeper understanding of His will comes into your possession.
“Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose image?” (Mark 12:15b-16)
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:27)
When Jesus pointed out that the image on the coin determined it’s destiny He set forth a profound principle that is not often associated with prayer. The image on the coin belonged to Caesar Tiberius and therefore, the coin would be used to transact commerce within the realm over which he was the authority. Render unto Caeser is a commonly encountered phrase, one that draws a line of demarcation between the secular and the holy. The image that you bear also determines your destiny. You were created for God’s purposes.
Sharing in the tight communion of the ThreeInOne, we commune via prayer. It is our privilege and destiny to pray, to open up the direct lines of communication to the heart of the father. To pray is to fully realize the divine image within, to connect to the power source from which our destinies and purpose are fulfilled. Turn the pages of your bible to the accounts of Abraham in prayer, notice the power with which his prayer is infused. As God’s friend, his prayer for Sodom and Lot, for Abimelech and Ishmael all change their history. You must remind yourself daily that you too have this divine image within you. You must remind yourself that you hold have the same influence, the same power within you as well. History is waiting for you to put it into action. Pray.
image by mess of pottage
“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:23-24
“Whatever you ask.” Does our faith extend this far in our prayers? Has the Holy Spirit so fully enveloped our thought and permeated our soul such that we have absolute confidence that whatever we pray we will receive? Our pulpit speech reveals otherwise. Many Christians have heard the litany of justifications and cautions that seek to soften this proclamation of our Lord. The qualifications of this promise include its expediency and whether or not it is according to God’s will.
As we diminish the expansiveness of ‘whatever’ into smaller and smaller categories the depth of our faith and trust in Christ’s promises follows. We pray small things and hope rather than praying for the world and trusting. We claim to believe the Bible, every word, and yet we look at the promises of the Lord and somehow can’t bring ourselves to fully believe them.
Our prayers must emanate from a belief that we have already received what we ask. This is a demonstration of complete confidence in the promise of God. Though a delay may occur in reality before the event of receipt, your assurance that what God promises He does completes the prayer. In this mindset we find how little we have availed ourselves of this privilege, how small our faith has become, how much disbelief has crept into our hearts.
Trust, pray, believe!