Pray in Jesus Name
In John 14:14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Hebrews 5:12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! If I continue to tack “in Jesus’ name I pray” onto every prayer and never really understand the significance of these words, I am not growing in my faith. It could be that I am just using the “tag line” in the hopes that I can get what I want from God. Praying in Jesus’ name holds a much deeper significance than the magician’s mumble of abracadabra as he waves a magic wane over a hat for a rabbit to pop out.
Because Islam is the fastest growing religion in America today, today’s lesson is the perfect time to remind us that it does matter to whom and through whom we address our prayers. I related the following true story: Each City of Little Rock Board of Directors’ meeting begins with an opening prayer by one of the Board members. My friend who was City Clerk at the time who is a believer in Jesus realized that something was different. The Board member began his prayer by addressing God, Allah, Buddha, or any other god you may worship. Some believe it does not matter in whose name we pray and they try to cover all gods. But the Bible teaches differently. 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. When we pray, we are to pray in Jesus’ name and Jesus’ name alone. Speaking of Jesus, the Apostle Peter said in Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Many today would have us believe that a name does not matter. However, just try cashing a check without the proper identification, and you will quickly discover that a name does matter.
How we identify and address God matters to Him. Philip. 2:10-11 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Praying in Jesus’ name goes to the attitude of our hearts. Praying in Jesus’ name means that we are seeking what will glorify the Father. Praying in Jesus’ name means that are actively participating in Jesus’ work. And finally, praying in Jesus’ holy name allows believers to enjoy immediate access to God and what a privilege that is!
John 14-16 contains Jesus’ teachings to the disciples after the Last Supper and after Judas left the group. To me it is significant that Jesus shared this important message with His disciples after Judas left the group since Judas would never pray in Jesus’ name and did not have a genuine faith in Jesus.
Read John 14:12-14 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
If God is going to answer our prayers and give us peace in our hearts, there are certain conditions that we must meet. In fact, the meeting of these conditions is a blessing in itself! Jesus is longing to hear “the prayer of faith.” Jesus is not saying that the eleven were going to do more amazing miracles that He performed. Jesus had already raised people from the dead. Jesus was explaining that through the Power of the Holy Spirit, the disciples would be instruments of God who would carry the good news of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth and that is amazing!
Keep in mind that the “whatever” in verse 13 is qualified by all that God has revealed in His Word about prayer. The “anything” in verse 14 is not free rein for us in God’s candy store. “In My name” is the controlling element. To know God’s name means to know His nature, who He is, and what He wants to do. God answers prayer in order to honor His name; therefore, prayer must be in His will (1 John 5:14-15). The first request in Matthew 6:9 where Jesus gives what we today often call “The Lord’s Prayer” is, hallowed be your name. Any request that does not glorify God’s name should not be asked in His name.
When Jesus said to the disciples, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it,” we must ask the question “Was Jesus talking specifically to the disciples then or is the promise also for us today?’ Consider for a moment two prayers – one by a Pharisee – the other by a tax collector. Luke 18:11-13 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13″But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ Jesus said, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” The tax collector asked for mercy and he received mercy. The promises of Jesus are not limited by time. God looks at our hearts. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it is still a valid promise of Jesus today.
One of the most exciting ways to have your prayers answered is to be participating in Jesus’ work and praying as you participate.
Read John 15:14-16 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
Even a genuine friend may fail us at the moment we need them most. Luke 22:61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”
The Greek word for friend means “a friend at court.” It describes that inner circle around a king or emperor. The “friends of the king” would be close to him and know his secrets, but they would also be subject to him and have to obey his commands. There is no conflict between being a friend and being a servant.
Because Jesus Christ is Lord and Master, He should call us servants but He calls us friends. In reality we are both – friend and servant. That was the relationship God had with Abraham. Abraham was known as a friend of God and he was also known as a servant of God.
In order to maintain a good comfortable prayer relationship with God, we must remain in His will. When our own desires take us outside of the will of God, it affects our prayer relationship. You are my friends if you do what I command. Just before Jesus ascended to the Father He left us with what has become known as the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Keep in mind that today’s verses were spoken by Jesus to the disciples before the crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus explained that there would be a new situation because of His resurrection and ascension, and because of the coming of the Holy Spirit. While Jesus was on earth, the disciples had asked nothing in Jesus’ name. While He was with them in the flesh they could ask Him anything. But, a little later as the disciples of the Risen Lord they would go directly to God. They would have the privilege of accessing the Throne of God in Jesus’ name. We too can enjoy immediate access to the Throne of God through the name of Jesus.
Read John 16:23-26 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. 24Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. 25″Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.
A new relationship between God and man was about to come into being. People had been approaching God through the priests. Some even still do this today; however, it is unnecessary and unscriptural. After Jesus’ resurrection any believer can approach God directly. Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Even though the disciples walked with Jesus and knew Him as a personal Friend, it took time for them to understand the new relationship that was unfolding before their very eyes. Even after the Resurrection, they still kept expecting a physical kingdom to come about. Acts 1:6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” We are no different from the disciples. Our spiritual maturing is a lifetime process. “Lord, when or you going to do this or that for me?” Gradually, we come to understand that God’s way is not necessarily the path we first envisioned. Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
The disciples began to get the picture after Jesus ascended into heaven. When the Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost, they understood more. As we grow spiritually, our relationship with Christ matures and the Holy Spirit grows within us, and, we come more boldly and confidently to the Throne of Grace. I believe that is why in the last years of her life I so frequently heard my mother pray that souls would be saved before the Great and Coming Day of the Lord. Her prayer life had grown to the point that she was truly praying in Jesus’ name. Luke 10:2 He [meaning Jesus] told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. This I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.