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
These verses are an amazing Promise! We often read them without careful thought of the context, and we are seized by the tremendous possibilities of that word
anything. And shallow Christians leap up and say,
What a promise! I can have that new car I've always wanted. But James reminds us:
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures(James 4:3).
There is an important limitation to this promise:
in my name? Somehow again, in a superficial approach to these ideas of Scripture, some think they have fulfilled this when they tack on at the end of a prayer,
This we ask in Jesus' name, as a kind of magic formula, like rubbing Aladdin's lamp so that the
genie of God will suddenly appear and do all that we ask!
I have no objection to people adding these words to their prayers. But there are many prayers with those words tacked onto the end that are not prayed in Jesus' name at all. What, then, does
in Jesus' name mean? I had thought that praying in Jesus' name meant praying for the things He wants accomplished. And it does mean that. But I thought you could pray to prevent certain things and to attain others and that we had an ability somehow to control the process by which these things come to pass. I have learned that this is not the case.
In Jesus' name means to pray in His place. To pray in Jesus' name means to stand in Jesus' place. And where was Jesus standing when He said these words? Facing the cross. Facing the end, the apparent collapse and failure of all of His work and His entire program.
But He knew that beyond the cross lay the resurrection and that there could never be that new beginning if there were not first an end of all that the others saw and hoped for. If these disciples were praying for anything, they were praying that somehow He would not have to go to the cross. But Jesus knew that it had to be. And to pray in Jesus' name means that you accept the process of God, the process by which He brings matters (often) to utter collapse. But that is not the end of the story! Beyond it is a resurrection and a new beginning of such different quality that the mind moves into an ecstasy of joy in contemplating it. That is what it means to pray in Jesus' name.
That is why it often seems as though God waits until the very last moment to answer our prayer. That is why He doesn't stop the process long before the heartache and pain come but allows it to go on into death--and out of the death comes resurrection. And to pray in Jesus' name means that you consent to that process and that you are aware that prayer is not merely a shield to prevent things from happening. Prayer is also a commitment to undergo the end and the collapse and the failure. But that is never the end of the story. It is only out of death that life comes.
Father, thank You that You teach me, again and again through life, that You are never going to deviate from Your process. May I gladly consent to that process in order that I may see how You bring life out of death.
What does praying in Jesus' name mean? How can we both wait for and presently live a joyful life everyday?