Prayer is a fascinating subject.
I’m sorry that it’s taken me so long to learn about prayer from what Jesus taught rather than from listening to other people pray.
Take for example praying in Jesus name. In our prayers, saying “In Jesus’ name, amen” is rather like an “over and out” ending to a two-way radio conversation, or like saying, “You have to answer me, God, because I prayed in Jesus’ name.” Is that what it really means?
At Mt Sinai God gave “Ten Commandments” to His people as a guideline for living the best kind of life. The third commandment said they were not to take God’s name in vain. We have reduced that to getting mad when people at work or on TV say “God!” or “Jesus!” and not doing it ourselves. But is that really all it means?
Part of the covenant God set up with His people was the right to use His name. That means that He gave them power of attorney to “sign cheques” in His name for whatever they needed to get the work He assigned to them done.
Jesus passed the assignment God gave Him on to us. “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you…” To do what? Basically to live like He did to show the world what the Father is like.
There are three ways in which we can take God’s name in vain; we justify what we are saying or doing wrong by claiming that God “understands”. We do this by rationalising. ”I know it’s wrong to have an affair but I love him and I don’t love my husband any more. God is love, so what’s so wrong with that?”
Secondly, we claim to speak in God’s name things that contradict who He is, or give “a word” to people that He didn’t authorise.
The third way is by making demands of God in prayer and tagging Jesus’ name on the end like a magic formula. Jesus gave us a tough assignment – to be like Him in the world so that the world would know what the Father is really like. That means that He expects us to live exactly opposite to the way the world lives.
The world is greedy – we must be generous.
The world criticises and condemns – we must be merciful.
The world wants to be first – we must serve.
The world lives for self – we must die to self.
When our prayers focus on asking God for help to live to make other people’s lives better, and not only on ourselves, then we are really praying “in Jesus’ name.”
Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (copyright 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!