Pastor Mike Gerhardt, July 9, 2017, Series on Prayer - Outline 3, Prayer: Asking In Jesus' Name, John 17:15-26.
Introduction: Dear Lord: Give me what I want. Amen. Nothing! Are you disappointed? Maybe you should try “in Jesus Name”? Dear Lord: Give me what I want, in Jesus Name. Amen. Where did we get that formula? Well, it is in lots of places in the writings of John. Here are a few:
John 14:8-14, I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 15:5-14, If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. John 16:17-33, Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them: In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
In ancient times an individual’s name summed up his whole personhood and character. If you did something in his name, you were doing it just like him. Prayer in accordance with the work and person of Jesus, is to pray in his name.Have you ever asked “in Jesus name” and not received from God the Father? Is this the formula? There have been many requests for which I have prayed earnestly and received no answer. Sometimes it feels like God’s not listening. Larry Crabb said he prayed earnestly for safety for his brother the day the plane crashed and his brother died. I want to examine what it may mean to pray in Jesus’ Name. We’ll look at three types.
The first type is a Child's Prayer. A child is a very dependent person. They will ask their father with lots of trust and not a lot of experience. What father would refuse to read a book to their young child, to play a board game, to build a castle in the sand? A child’s prayer is an honest, straight forward, trust filled prayer to the Father of Heaven which has requests that God may fulfill and I believe He does. God wants to answer the child’s prayer. The second type is like a teen who says to their father: I’ve cut the lawn, did the dishes and made my bed so please give me $50 to go the concert. The fathers’ dilemma is to bless or to withhold blessing, especially when it is a band whose lyrics are filled with profanity. The young adult now has experienced negative answers to their simple requests. They think that the father will never give them what they want. They resent their father for picking and choosing what to give. God what about that word anything that YOU put into your promise about prayer? Trust may have eroded; they feel jaded and begin to question whether God is even there. Does it seem that God answer your prayers? Bill Hybels states:
The third type is the mature prayer. You don’t have to be old to be mature. AND just because you are old doesn’t mean you have matured. Maturity is reflected in prayers that have relationship as the primary importance. I had a meeting with a team going to Chile and asked them to pray for our trip but in their prayers to exclude two small requests. I said do not pray for your personal safety or your personal health. You should have seen the looks on their faces. My suggestion was to rather pray for our relationships with the nationals and the orphaned girls to whom we would touch.
Ken Wilson illustrated: There’s something exquisitely luxurious about room service in a hotel. All you have to do is pick up the phone and somebody is ready and waiting to bring you breakfast, lunch, dinner, a chocolate milkshake, whatever your heart desires and your stomach will tolerate. Or you can telephone for someone who will get a soiled shirt quickly transformed into a clean one or a rumpled suit into a pressed one. That’s the concept that some of us have of prayer. Have we created God in the image of a divine bellhop? Is prayer the ultimate in room service, wrought by direct dialing? Furthermore, there’s no tipping, and everything is charged to that great credit card in the sky. Prayer is many things, but I’m sure it’s not this.
John 17:15-26. Jesus prayed to the Father for the disciples and for us who would be his disciples in the future. 15 Jesus prayed to protect them from the evil one. 17 Jesus prayed to sanctify them by the truth. 20 Jesus prayed for those who believe to be one. 24 Jesus prayed that they would see His glory. 26 Jesus prayed that he would be in them. I see no prayers for health or wealth, for traveling mercies, for good times or even good weather. François Fénelon, 17th cent. Catholic Frenchman: Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one’s heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you to conquer them; talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them; show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability. Tell Him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and others.
If you pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. People, who have no secrets from each other, do not weigh their words, for there is nothing to be held back; neither do they seek for something to say. They talk out of the abundance of the heart. They say just what they think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved conversation with God.
Donald Barnhouse, once stunned his congregation with: Prayer changes nothing! You could’ve heard a pin drop that Sunday. His comment was designed to make us realize that God is sovereign and in charge of everything.
Chuck Swindoll observed: Our times are literally in His hands. No puny human being by uttering a few words in prayer takes charge of events and changes them. God does the shaping, the changing; it is He who is in control. Barnhouse was correct, except in one minor detail. Prayer changes me. When I pray, I change, and that is the major reason prayer is such therapy that counteracts anxiety.
Robert Law commented: Prayer is a mighty instrument, not for getting mans’ will done in Heaven, but for getting God’s will done on earth.
Praying in Jesus’ name is talking with the Father of Heaven in a relationship formed by the cross. It is a prayer that centers itself on that relationship and that all the requests come from there. Prayer is filled with relational conversation with God as your Father, your dad. The petitions are Kingdom requests, relational requests, and prayers of passion for what is on the heart of God. Think about this: Daniel of the Bible would rather spend a night in a den with hungry lions than miss a day in prayer with his dear Father. Just about two weeks before my father died, I sat by his bed where he had been confined for 6 months. He was in pain from bed sores and his breathing was difficult even with oxygen. The few days I was there, we talked about everything. My father was a great conversationalist. He joked and laughed and shared concerns about how I was raising my boys. There were times when we just sat together. Exhausted he would fall asleep. I would look at him and think what a great man. And he is my dad.
Have you ever felt that way about God your Father in Heaven? He is a great dad, and desires for you to love him and spend time with him. He has much to share with you about this life and the life to come. Would you spend time in prayer with Him?
Conclusion: May drawing close with God be at the center of all your prayers.