I have often wondered why God lied. Why did He say that He would give us anything we asked for when He really wouldn’t? Doesn’t He say no to all kinds of requests of yours? Doesn’t it ever feel like your throwing prayers at the ceiling and seeing what sticks?
At the last supper, multiple times Jesus told His disciples things like, “You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it.” Really? Have you ever noticed how many unanswered prayers there are? If the Bible was true, if He is for real, then how can this be?
I have begun to wonder if we simply have no idea what it means to ask “in Jesus’ name”. Could Jesus really have meant that if I tacked “in Jesus’ name, Amen” at the end of a prayer, He would give me “whatever” I was asking for!?
Are there even any prayers in the entire Bible that end with the words “in Jesus’ name, Amen”? I can’t think of any, which makes me think that that can’t be what Jesus meant when He said to ask God in His name.
I have begun to wonder if it might look a little different. Could it be He meant something else? Maybe it is more like if my friends, who for the sake of this article we will call George and Sue, told me something similar. See, George and Sue have been married for a really long time. They know each other really well. They can finish each other’s sentences. They know the other person’s jokes and favorites foods. They also know the other person’s goals, desires and heart. They know what the other person wants.
I wonder if I was staying at their house and George went away on a trip, but before he left, he told me that if I needed anything, I should just ask Sue and tell her that he sent me. Then she would give me what I asked for because before he left, he would tell her to do so.
Now suppose George really, really hated cats. Not only did he dislike them, but he was allergic to them. Now suppose I liked cats, so one day I went to Sue and asked her to give me a cat. I would be keeping this cat in George’s office. I argued the cat would be good for everyone involved. George and I were sure of it. Wouldn’t Sue know that I was lying? George did not want a cat in his office when he returned from his trip!
If I was going to be in full integrity when I asked Sue for something “in George’s name”, wouldn’t I have to be absolutely sure that George wanted me to have it? Otherwise, wouldn’t I be lying? Surely when my friend George told me this before leaving, he didn’t want me to become a selfish brat, spoil society or disrespect his personal belongings. He trusted me when he left. That’s why he said I could ask for anything!
Now suppose Jesus told His followers that His Spirit would be in them. This meant Jesus could trust them and communicate directly with them. Suppose He told them that when He left they could ask God for anything “in His name” and it would be given to them. I am assuming that it was obvious to the disciples that He didn’t mean illicit affairs when He had previously pointed out to them that anyone who looks lustfully at a woman had committed adultery. With integrity could the disciples go to God and say Jesus sent them to ask for this woman? No! That would be ridiculous. They would expect God to look at them funny and say, “Jesus doesn’t like that. What’s wrong with you for asking?! Don’t you know Him? Haven’t you ever even met Him?”
I have begun to wonder if praying “in Jesus’ name” has nothing to do with whether I say “in Jesus’ name” in my actual prayer.
Today I came boldly before the throne of God because He told me that I could. I said something like, “I am here because Jesus sent me, and He told me that I could ask You for faithfulness. I need Your faithfulness right now. I happen to know that when Peter looked at the wind, doubted and began to sink, Jesus reached out His hand immediately and rescued him. I know Jesus rescues immediately even when my problems are caused by my doubt. I need to be rescued immediately. I ask You to do that. I know with confidence that Jesus wants shame to have no part in my life. I come to You boldly and ask You to remove it. I know with absolute certainty that Jesus Christ wants His Church to be perfectly united in mind and thought. I ask for perfect unity in this situation. I know with confidence that Jesus wants us to have this. Give it to us for His sake.”
This is what I have begun to think praying in Jesus’ name might look like. Forget anemic prayers for things we want that have NOTHING to do with what He wants for us but everything to do with helping us pursue a life of pleasure.
Go boldly before the throne of God and ask with confidence for what is yours because Jesus promised it to you! Feel free to point that out to God. No more wimpy prayers for what we want – no matter how godly our wants may appear on the outside. Let’s quit ending our prayers with “in Jesus’ name” and thinking we asked “in Jesus’ name”.
There now I have officially broken the rules of this blog and preached at you. Oh, well.
When you ask “in Jesus’ name” do you know with confidence that Jesus wants you to have what you are asking for? Or do you simply hope God will give you what you want because you have tacked “in Jesus’ name” on the end of your prayer?