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Old 05-26-2011, 11:23 PM   #1
NeitherFirstnorLast
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Default Prayer According to Christ

Brethren, I was reading this evening from the book of John, and at the words in chapter 14:12-14, I had to pause.

John 14:12-14 "Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes into Me, the works which I do he shall do also; and greater than these shall he do because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it."

What does this mean to you?

Has it been your experience, that every prayer which you begin with "Oh Lord Jesus!" or end with "I pray in Jesus Precious name" is one which is answered - even answered just as you asked Him to answer it? This has not been my experience, but it is what I have heard and seen practiced by many Christians everywhere - it is the way, they believe, they ought to pray... but what did He mean, "In My Name"?

The word we have translated as 'Name' in these passages is Strong's word #3686, ὄνομα, which is transliterated "onoma" - and while it can be translated as 'name', it likewise has other meanings: 'Authority', is one. It should be noted that "According to Hebrew notions, a name is inseparable from the person to whom it belongs, i.e. it is something of his essence. Therefore, in the case of the God, it is specially sacred." (Souter).

Reading further in John 14, we come to verse 26 and read "But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and remind you of all things that I have said to you."

Should we interpret this to mean that the Father sent the Holy Spirit by calling on the name of Jesus, or that He sent Him in His authority, for did not Jesus say:

Matthew 28:18b "All authority has been given to Me on heaven and on earth." - and did He not also say to the 72 disciples He sent out:

Luke 10:19-20 "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven

Christ has Authority, and through Him, we likewise have Authority - and that Authority comes from the Father. Christ Himself likewise said:

John 5:19-20 excerpted “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does."

So if the word we have translated as "name" in John 14 (onoma) is really meaning 'authority', then how do we apply this authority to have our Lord Jesus move heaven and earth to answer our prayers?

The answer is; we submit to the Authority of the Father, through the Spirit, just as He would have us do. It is not by using His name as a "pretty please", or an "abracadabra" to accomplish an end we desire - that is NOT praying 'in His name', it is praying from our flesh. To pray in His name is to pray what is on His heart - and nothing less.

Christ said "The time is coming, and it is now, when the true believers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him." John 4:23

We can do Christ's work through our prayers only by doing Christ's work with our prayers - by surrendering all to Him; presenting ourselves to Him a living sacrifice, our reasonable service, and letting Him pray through us. We are, after all, His Body. Bought and paid for with a price.

Many believe this in principle, and are quick to condemn religious Christians who have bought into the 'prosperity gospel'; those who would name and claim wealth through prayer... but while we might avoid the error of these kinds of fleshly prayers, can we honestly say we haven't been tempted to try to wrest control of a situation from Him by demanding that what we perceive to be our needs in fact get met? If we have an ill friend, or a child of ours is in distress, we are often quick to pray for their health or for their protection - but even these 'selfless' prayers should first be brought before Him, to ascertain His will in the matter, if we are to truly pray with authority.

Consider: perhaps the cancer that is slowly growing in your friend is part of an experience God is using (and if you, dear reader, have such a friend - please do not take offense. I know the pain of losing a loved one to cancer; but Praise the Lord that through it He brought my own mother to Himself, and in so doing I can rest assured that I will see her again!). After all, unless first He comes, we are all destined to die, are we not? But through Him the second death can never touch us...

In the Love of Christ Jesus our Lord,

NeitherFirstnorLast
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Old 05-27-2011, 07:49 AM   #2
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For many years I have likened it to an agency arrangement. I have worked for companies for many years that have people whose job it is to purchase supplies and even larger items for the company's own use. Everything from pens to desk, chairs, white boards, even computers. Depending on the relationship with the vendor, certain people are known to have authority to purchase on behalf of the company, thereby causing there to be an amount owed by the company for the amount of the purchase. I was never one of those persons. I could sign something looking like a purchase order for the company, but no one would accept it because I was not granted that authority.

And even those who had the authority only had it with respect to what the company wanted/needed. If someone with the authority simply made out the invoice and signed it, the vendor might initially supply it, but when the company refused to pay and sent the product back, or filed suit for return of stolen merchandise by the employee, it would never happen again. And the agency status of the employee would be ended. The real authority was whether the company was behind the order, not who signed it.

It is not a complete analogy. But I think that we too often think that anything we want must be wanted by God and that either our incantation of the name of Jesus somewhere in the prayer, or the very fact that we ask for it makes it authorized. And this is not supported by the scripture. But at the same time, what is authorized is not just "heavenly" things, or "things of the kingdom." We were also charged to pray concerning our daily needs. For our sins and for the will and power to forgive sins against us. The only problem may be whether we truly understand our need. We need food. But how much, and what kind. And we may need the correction and experience that comes from just barely getting enough food for a while. Or not getting that perfect job with great hours and pay that is closer to the church you want to attend and/or your kids' homes (and the grandkids).

But that doesn't mean we censor our prayers. That is why we pray for everything, but understand that His will is not necessarily ours. This is not meant to be the kind of cop-out that some use as a way to explain away what is initially seen as either a failure in the strength of our prayer or our tendency to diminish God in our eyes because he does not do as we wish. He is God, not a genie in a bottle. He does not grant three (or unlimited) wishes. But we still pray.
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Old 05-27-2011, 07:54 AM   #3
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And what is Christ's work? Does it not include doing our normal life in Christ? Or is it only the "kingdom things"? I believe that we mostly do the will of God by following obediently in the mundane things of life rather than in seeking greatness in "preaching the gospel" or having wonderful experiences of worship with other believers. Do not most of us fulfill our calling by being Christians in all that we do rather than being some kind of hyphenated, adjectivized Christian. You know, like "radical," "active," "mission-minded," etc.
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Old 05-27-2011, 08:12 AM   #4
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NFNL, I really enjoyed this. Thanks for posting it! We just need to be careful that we don't not pray because we are so afraid that we might pray for the wrong thing. We don't know the Lord's intentions. Sometimes I am so amazed at the prayers he does answer. I can't beleive that it matters to him. I think that you explained it so well.
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Old 05-27-2011, 12:46 PM   #5
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"In Jesus' name" actually means "in the Spirit." Ephesians 6:18 agrees, pray at all times "in the Spirit." When we are praying in the flesh, these prayers are not heard, simply because they are not done in the Spirit. The desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, and the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and these two are opposed to each other (Galatians 5:17). James 4:3 talks about praying in the flesh: you ask and don't receive when you are asking for something to spend on your passions.

-David Hsu, from The Church in San Jose
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Old 05-27-2011, 10:09 PM   #6
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"In Jesus' name" actually means "in the Spirit." Ephesians 6:18 agrees, pray at all times "in the Spirit." When we are praying in the flesh, these prayers are not heard, simply because they are not done in the Spirit. The desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, and the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and these two are opposed to each other (Galatians 5:17). James 4:3 talks about praying in the flesh: you ask and don't receive when you are asking for something to spend on your passions.

-David Hsu, from The Church in San Jose
David, I thought James missed the vision of God's economy?
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Old 05-28-2011, 07:40 AM   #7
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"In Jesus' name" actually means "in the Spirit." Ephesians 6:18 agrees, pray at all times "in the Spirit."
Ephesians says what it says. But nothing states that "in Jesus name" or "in my name" means "in the Spirit." Surely we will find that "in the Spirit" is part of the mix. But nothing makes it THE totality of what "in Jesus name" means.

My problem with such a simplistic statement is that we don't really know what it means to be "in the Spirit." I'm not saying that we don't have formulas and other ways to try to "get into the Spirit." But we often decipher our condition based upon fleeting feelings. If we read them positively, then we conclude that we are "in the Spirit." But we may just be having good, or the right kind of, feelings and presume that they evidence the Spirit.

The point is to pray. To pray for God's will. To seek to discover what has been "bound in heaven" and pray in accord. But even without clarity on that, pray. When we find ourselves standing in agreement with the authority, then He will act. He knows what is "in His name." He's waiting for some to pray according to that. We don't have to know that it is according to it. We just have to pray.

But there is no "simply" in it. There is no certainty. If it was just about being in the Spirit, then we could pray that Jesus would return now and he would do it. I assume that he loves for us to pray along those lines. But he is not going to return until the appointed time. So I believe that "in the Spirit" is not what Jesus was talking about when he said "pray in my name" (or however he said it). He meant "if you pray and it is what I am set to do, then I will do it."
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Old 05-29-2011, 03:40 PM   #8
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Ephesians says what it says...
1 John 5:14 says if we ask according to his will he hears us. Whenever we do things in the Spirit we are acting according to the Spirit's will. The desires of the Spirit and the flesh are opposed to each other. Therefore there are only two ways to pray. In the flesh and in the Spirit. If we ask according to his will, in his name, in the Spirit, he hears us. If we pray according to the flesh's will, he will not hear us. Why do you think in James it says if we ask to fulfill our passions then we do not receive?
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Old 05-31-2011, 12:36 PM   #9
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1 John 5:14 says if we ask according to his will he hears us. Whenever we do things in the Spirit we are acting according to the Spirit's will. The desires of the Spirit and the flesh are opposed to each other. Therefore there are only two ways to pray. In the flesh and in the Spirit. If we ask according to his will, in his name, in the Spirit, he hears us. If we pray according to the flesh's will, he will not hear us. Why do you think in James it says if we ask to fulfill our passions then we do not receive?
Since there were no commas in Greek, another variant of translation is "If we ask Him anything, according to His will He hears us".

Daddy likes to talk to us. Instead of thinking whether I pray according to His will or not, we need to talk with Him about anything that is on our heart, about anything that troubles us. And let Him sort out your mess, while you are in His loving embrace. You should not worry if what you ask Him is according to His economy, because His economy is you!! All His thoughts are about you! His mind is full of you! You are His priceless treasure. He died to get you - that's how much He treasures you. Don't be afraid, your Daddy is always in good mood. He is always available. He loves you. And all His time is devoted... you guessed right - to you!!!
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Old 05-31-2011, 03:00 PM   #10
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1 John 5:14 says if we ask according to his will he hears us. Whenever we do things in the Spirit we are acting according to the Spirit's will. The desires of the Spirit and the flesh are opposed to each other. Therefore there are only two ways to pray. In the flesh and in the Spirit. If we ask according to his will, in his name, in the Spirit, he hears us. If we pray according to the flesh's will, he will not hear us. Why do you think in James it says if we ask to fulfill our passions then we do not receive?
This is a loaded statement. It is his will that we pray. It is his will that we pray about everything. And there are things concerning his will that he will undertake if we pray. These seem to be contradictory statements, but they are not.

The problem is that there is the totality of God's will and there are aspects of God's will. That he wills for us to pray does not mean that we are automatically praying according to his will with regard to a particular thing that he may or may not do. He also has a will concerning whatever that thing is. And for some reason he has determined that he will undertake it only if we pray in agreement with that will.

So we should pray for healing, even miraculous healing for conditions that have exceeded the medical practitioners' abilities to "cure." But it may not be his will. And now you tell me that if I pray for such a healing that I must not be in the Spirit? That only if I pray in some different way that I would be in Spirit? But if it actually is God's will to undertake such a miracle, if I don't pray in that manner, then I am likewise not in Spirit? So I guess that we have to have such a clear sense from God that we should pray for healing in some cases and refrain from such prayer in others because if we miss that sense, then we must not be "in Spirit."

This seems to be a way to put virtually all Christians into constant doubt concerning their spiritual condition because they pray concerning things that matter to them and they don't get the answer that they really would like. More rightly, we should be strong to pray no matter how likely we think it is that it is God's will and accept that our will may not be his. Unlike my agency example, we are not charged to demand a certain outcome and, assuming we were "in Spirit" simply go forward acting as if it is so. For example, simply stop taking blood pressure medication or insulin for diabetes. We pray and wait for God's response. We are ready to accept his will, whether an end to diabetes or the rest of a life taking care of blood tests and insulin shots.

It is not a basis for analyzing our "in Spirit" ness. I honestly believe that this is reversing the precedents. This is something that can only be observed in hind-sight. If you asked in his will and he did it, then you can probably safely say that you were "in Spirit." But just because you prayed and it did not happen is not evidence that you were not "in Spirit." There is no defined "if A then B" that says, "if you are in Spirit then your prayers will be according to his will and will be answered in the manner you desire."

Now I would agree that if we are simply praying for our pathetic selves to have an even cushier life, or some other selfish motive, that while God surely "hears" us, he does not even entertain to respond, consistent with what James says. And it is probably a safe bet that you were not "in Spirit" when you prayed it. But there is no magic formula of "in his name" and "in the Spirit" that guarantees that our prayer will match his will. But it is probably doubtful that a prayer from outside that place would actually be his will.
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