The Path of Prayer
Chapter 6: Praying in the Name
The most incredible things are promised to prayer. The Old Testament abounds in promises and examples. Deliverance and help, guidance and grace were assured to those who called upon God and committed their way unto Him. Nothing was too hard for the Lord, and nothing was impossible to those who prayed. Some of the passages are overwhelming in their challenge to prayer. Here is one: "Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me" (Isaiah 45:11). Prayer passes from entreaty to command. There is no limit to the possibility of prayer, and the Old Testament confirms and attests the promises by examples and demonstrations of its power. Our Lord speaks with the same illimitable speech. His word is, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" (Matthew 7: 7, 8). He gave prayer a new basis, a new confidence, and a new range. For He gave as its reason the fact that God is our Heavenly Father. Prayer is a child's petition. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matthew 7:11). There is one saying of Jesus that is even more startling than that of Isaiah. "Therefore," says he, "I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them" (Mark 11:24).
"Whatsoever Ye Shall Ask In My Name"The promise to prayer reaches its climax in the Upper Room on that memorable night of revelation and tragedy. He declared Himself to be the basis of prayer. They were to pray m a new way. They were to pray in His name, and they would heard for His sake. As there are seven words on the cross, so there are seven words concerning prayer in the fellowship of the Upper Room. They gather up and complete the whole revelation of the Scriptures, and enlarge and certify the promises of God. It would seem to be sacrilege not to quote them in full, for no other words can compare with them.
"And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it" (John 14:13, 14).What extraordinary promises these are that are pledged to prayer in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! They abound in universal and unconditional terms. All things, whatsoever ye ask! Prayer reaches its highest level when offered in the Name which is above every name, for it lifts the petitioner into unity and identity with himself.
"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7).
"Ye did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you" (John 15:16).
"And ye therefore now have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one taketh away from you. And in that day ye shall ask me no question [R. V., margin]. Verily, verily, I say unto you, if ye shall ask any thing of the Father, he will give it you in my name. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be fulfilled... In that day ye shall ask in my name" (John 16:22-26).
"In The Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ"Our Lord never explained what was meant by pray in His name. The meaning was plain enough to every Israelite. God was in His name. He had made them an elect people, that they might be the interpreters, custodians and witnesses of His name. When they dishonored it in their own land and degraded it among the Gentiles, he redeemed and restored them for the sanctification of the Name. "I do not this for your sakes, ... but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name."
Our Lord speaks in terms of Deity. To pray in Christ's name means something more than adding "for Christ's sake" to our petitions The name expresses personality, character, and being. The person is in the name. Prayer in Christ's name is prayer according to the character of His mind, and according to the purpose of His will. To pray in the name of Christ is to pray as one who is at one with Christ, whose desires is the mind of Christ, whose desires are the desires of Christ, and whose purpose is one with that of Christ.
Such correspondence and identification with Christ secure the balance and interpretation of the promises given to prayer. The absolute and unconditional promises find their relativity and conditions in Him. In the Old Testament prayer was conditioned upon urgency, intensity, and sincerity. God was found of men when they cried unto Him out of a great need, when they sought Him with all their heart and when there was sincerity of purpose and motive. Men found that God required truth in the innermost soul, and that they were not heard if they regarded iniquity in their hearts, or came to Him with insincere pretenses upon their lips. Our Lord demanded importunity and a forgiving spirit of all who prayed. In the prayer in the Name all conditions are unified and simplified in Him. Sincerity is tested in the Name. Motive is judged in the Name. Prayer is proved in the Name. Prayer is sanctified in the Name. Prayer is indorsed by the Name, when it is in harmony with the character, mind, desire and purpose of the Name. That is why in John 15: 7 the words of Christ are interchangeable with His name. "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." It is something like the word of the psalmist: "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart;" or that of Saint John: "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight" (I John 3:21,22) Prayers offered in the name of Christ are scrutinized and sanctified by His nature, His purpose, and His will They are indorsed by Him
"For The Sake of The Name"It means more than that. We are heard for His sake He is the petitioner He ever haveth to make intercession for us. In the Apocalypse He is represented as taking our prayers and adding to them of the fire of the altar that makes them prevail. He told His disciples He was going to the Father, and that He was going to pray on their behalf, and whatever they asked of the Father in His name the Father would do it. Not for their own sake, but for His sake they would be heard.
When I was in Leeds a man came a long way to look over a factory in which he was interested He wrote to the firm, and his request was politely declined. He went to the factory and presented his card. It was returned, and he was refused admittance. No argument could get him beyond the little shutter in the outer office. He told his disappointment to a friend, who suggested I might be able to help him. He came to see me. I gave him my card, and wrote to the head of the firm. Next day he presented his request, and handed in my card, and immediately every door opened to him. His petition was granted, but not for his own sake. The head of the firm saw me in him.
In some such way we pray in Christ's name. He indorses our petitions and makes our prayers His own, and "the Father hears Him pray." We are not heard for our much loud shouting Neither are we heard for our fine phrasing, nor our much weeping. Neither are we heard for our good works, nor for our self-denials. Prayer in His name is heard for His name's sake. In the secret inner chamber we ask, seek, and knock in His holy name, and present our prayers in the sure confidence of His wonderful and glorious word: "Ye did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you,... that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."
"Ask, and ye shall receive."
Continue to Chapter 7: Praying in the Spirit