Use or abuse of prayer?

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

(John 14:12-14 ESV)

That last sentence is often pulled out of context and misused. People will tack “in Jesus’ name” to the end of a prayer as if it’s a magical incantation that binds Him to give you whatever you want. (I’m not saying it’s wrong to use those words, just to use them as if we can obligate Him).

Jim uses the analogy of a policeman saying, “Stop in the name of the law.” Why does he say that? He has no authority on his own to make them stop, but as a representative of the law, he does. It is not merely the policeman giving the command, but the law itself, through him. Likewise, what right do we have to ask anything on our own authority? But in this passage, Jesus gives His followers the authority to pray in His name. Not just as sinful, fallen humans, but as His representatives on earth.

However, there is a flip side. The policeman cannot throw out any command he wants and say, “in the name of the law” with the same authority. He could not, for instance, say, “Steal that TV in the name of the law.” Perhaps someone would listen, but both would get arrested in the end. The policeman has authority to speak for the law, but only if he speaks in accordance with the will of the law. Likewise, Jesus has given us authority to pray in His name, but that only works if we’re praying in accordance with His will.

If we first seek His will in a situation, then pray in His name, in accordance with His will, then whatever we ask will be done.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

(John 14:12-14 ESV)

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From Ben.  A good job explaining a very difficult passage.

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