Pray in Jesus’ Name
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 14:12c-14 (Holman) A. . . because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.@
Two friends, when separating, provide ways they can communicate with one another. They exchange snail-mail and email addresses, plus phone numbers. They decide to friend each other on Facebook, and follow one another on Twitter.
When Christ left His friends, the disciples, He told them how they could best communicate with Him once He went to the Father. The address would be Heaven; the access code faith; the message anything in Jesus= name.
In the first part of verse 12, Jesus had said God’s power comes to us on the wings of faith. The victory is given to the one who “believes in Me,” He said.
Verse 13 tells us to pray in Jesus= name. This lesson asks two questions. What does it mean to pray in Jesus= name? Why are we required to pray this way?
First, what does it mean? One, to pray in Jesus’ name means we realize our own persona is not enough. In the New Testament, a person’s name referred to their reputation. As sinners, we have in Heaven no name, no reputation. Our own names and reputations may be important here, but are powerless there.
Our trying to obtain anything in the name of another proves we know our own name is insufficient. Ambassadors would never claim to have anything in their own person to give them influence with foreign leaders. Their sole claim to authority is, they come in the name of their country.
Anything we seek to receive from God in prayer can be gained only if we abandon all feelings of merit altogether. To succeed in prayer we must drop all claims of self-righteousness, confessing God’s benefits are all of grace.
Two, to pray in Jesus’ name means to ask only for things He would ask for. Since to ask in someone else’s name means to use the individual=s personality and influence as leverage, it means to make a request the person named would request.
AIn Jesus= name@ cannot be used as a formula to force God to grant requests stuffed full of self-will and selfishness. A selfish request has no power with the Father, for it is prayed in the name of self, not in the name of Jesus.
Prayer in Jesus= name means our requests should be consistent with His interests. We pray in His name when we pray as He would pray.
This narrows the range of our prayer requests. We best pray if we pray about Christ=s concerns, asking for what we know He wants. We are certainly free to ask for anything we desire, but the lion’s share of our prayers must be praise, holiness, missions, etc. – in other words, things we know Jesus wants.
Three, to pray in Jesus’ name means we intend to be like Him. To use another=s name means we are claiming to be their representative. We are saying we want to demonstrate what the person named is actually like.
Our goal must be to imitate Jesus in every detail. If we use Jesus’ name, we must exhibit His life. Our prayers are hindered if we use Jesus’ name to obtain things, without living up to the obligations appertaining thereto.
The U.S. Government does not send a terrorist as its ambassador. It sends someone who worthily represents the freedom and justice this country stands for.
Using Jesus= name in prayer is not an incantation or a magical abra-kadabra. Many insert the precise words “In Jesus’ name” in every prayer. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as we remember the words are not magic. They represent more than only God’s title. They represent Him, His Person, His reputation.
Many, when interpreting the third commandment, miss this aspect of what it means to use the Lord’s name aright. Some think the command only means we should never verbalize the name of God irreverently. This is a good sentiment, but not the commandment’s full meaning. The commandment also means to do nothing which misrepresents God, as when we say, “Don’t hurt the family name.”
To pray in Jesus= name means we intend to live exemplary lives, to stand before others as His representatives. This requires a willingness to obey God absolutely, to submit to Scripture, and to seek His wisdom in all matters.
How can we know His will in situations not clearly covered by the Bible? We best learn God’s will by being willing to do God’s will, whatever it might prove to be. Desire must be curbed. We have to be okay with whatever His will shall be.
What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name? We realize our name is not enough, we ask only for things He would ask for, and we intend to be like Him.
Now a second question. Why are we required to pray in Jesus’ name? One, because God the Father is glorified thereby. “Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
Our most powerful prayers are ones wherein we seek to glorify the Father. AHallowed be Thy name@ comes first in the Lord=s Prayer because if the heart is sincere in this, the rest of the prayer will be properly consecrated.
When requests made in Jesus= name are granted, we feel more affection for the Father, and more readily acknowledge His kindnesses to us. Praying in Jesus’ name reminds us we are blessed in prayer due to Him.
The Father wants credit for what He does in answering our prayers, not for selfish reasons, but to keep us from placing our trust in false hopes. Don’t leave God in a selfish position. All that rises to His glory is passed on in blessings to others.
Two, we are required to pray in Jesus’ name because He has to do the actual work. Since He does the work, He must be asked to do only things He would do. “I will do it,” He claimed in verse 14, after saying in verse 12 we would do Agreater works@ than He did. We know in these “greater works” done by His followers, Jesus is the One doing the work.
Christ is the worker; we are but agents. Jesus is our life and our power. He does it all. We never have anything of which to boast.
Jesus’ physical Ascension increased the thrust of His power. Before His death, He was, by His own Sovereign choice, limited in the scope of His influence.
Once He ascended, He was liberated from His self-imposed limitations of the
flesh. After the Ascension, Jesus was no longer a single flesh and blood laborer, doing all through His own incarnation. In Heaven, He mounted a throne of emanating power, and through the Holy Spirit has been able to work through many. His Holy Spirit now works mightily anywhere He can find a willing servant.
After “Jesus was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19), the disciples “went out and preached everywhere@ (Mark 16:20a). This great work was not accomplished in their own strength. The Bible is careful to add, Athe Lord working with them@ (Mark 16:20b).
Jesus is still working. The work of all others is ended by death. Statesmen, poets, heroes, parents B all cease to act when they die. Christ=s work, though, was magnified and multiplied by His death. He lives on, working in us and through us.
Only Jesus has this ability to transfer, even after death, His powers to and through others. No other human has ever been able to do this.
My Grandpas knew a lot. They were intelligent, but their knowledge died with them. There was no way they could convey their thoughts in mass to anyone.
Samson had huge reserves of physical strength, but it died with him. He could not transfer his power to anyone. Jesus, though, continues to have abundant power to give away. All the strength we Christians will ever need is available to us.
At Pentecost the Spirit was fully poured out. This abundant flow continues. There never has been and never will be more of God available than there is now.
We not only want to hear of past miracles and intellectually know a power greater than the natural forces of this Universe exists. We want to see miracles today, and fully experience in us this greater power. We want to see God do mighty, marvelous, and miraculous works among us.
We need to access God fully. We desperately need His infilling! We can live victoriously in a hostile world only when Jesus provides by the Holy Spirit the strength we need. We need stronger faith; ask God to give it. We need to pray in Jesus’ name; ask God to help us do it right.