Archive for May, 2014

In Jesus’ Name, Amen

If you are like me, you make sure you add the words, “in Jesus’ name, amen” at the end of every prayer.  We know we are supposed to pray that way.  That is how we have been taught.  But I think somehow we have held some secret, perhaps not even fully thought out, idea that as long as we say our prayer is in Jesus’ name, then God will hear us and answer.  Like just saying the name of Jesus is a magic key to opening the doors of Heaven.

Earlier this week I was reading from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  He suggested that praying in Jesus’ name is not simply invoking His name, but to pray in the character of Jesus.  The immediate thought in my mind did not accept that, but the Spirit confirmed the truth of what Chambers said in short order and set me straight.  So let’s look at some Scripture passages to figure this out.

Let’s begin with John 16:23-24 (NKJV) – “And in that day you will ask Me nothing.  Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.  Until now you have asked nothing in My name.  Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

John 14:13-14 – “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

Ok.  So if we keep praying in Jesus’ name, amen, and Jesus said that whatever we pray in His name He will do, why are so many of our prayers not answered the way we want them to be?  Is Jesus’ name not the magic word after all?  Or is there something more to it?

One of the keys to studying God’s word that I have learned over the past few years is that God never contradicts Himself.  If He says something in Scripture that doesn’t seem to jive with something else in Scripture, or in real life, dig deeper, because there is further meaning there.  If you seek that meaning and understanding, God will give it to you.

John 15:5-8 – “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

There it is.  If we abide in Jesus, and His words abide in us, then what we ask for will be done for us.  Why?  Because then we will be asking for what is already the will of God.

What is an ambassador?  A person so trusted by the leadership of a government that they are trusted to speak for that leadership.  The ambassador knows the will of the leader, and speaks it.  He is not the leader, but he is a representative that is so in tuned to the will and desires of the leader that he can speak with the authority of the leader.

This is what Jesus is talking about.  Just as Jesus, as the Son of God, was the ambassador, so to speak, of God the Father, here on earth, we are ambassadors for Jesus (2 Cor. 5:20).  Jesus came in the name of the Father (John 5:43; 10:25).  What Jesus spoke to us, we know to be the words, and will of the Father.  John 5:19 – Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”

In the same way, as ambassadors for Jesus, filled with His Holy Spirit, we are to know His will.  He trusts us to speak for Him, not only to every person that we speak to on this planet, but when we speak in prayer to our Heavenly Father.  When we pray, we are to approach God with the assurance that, because of the Holy Spirit within us, and the Word of God, which we have been able to read and study, we do know His will, which is also the will of Jesus.  Our spirits are to be at one with the Holy Spirit.  When that is the case, then our prayers are truly said in the name of Jesus, as His trusted representatives, speaking His will, His desires.  Wow.  What an awesome thought!  It is no wonder Jesus said he would be present when 2 or 3 were gathered in His will!  I see it!  He says, “I see 2 or 3 saints gathered together.  They are all in sync with My will, one with My Spirit.  That is where I am going to be right now.”

So why is it that so often we find ourselves unsure of what Jesus’ will is?  The very simple answer is that we have not taken the time to build our relationship with Him.  How can we know what Jesus’ will is, if we don’t know who He is or anything about Him?  How can our prayers be in sync with what He desires, if we don’t know what He likes and dislikes?  There is more to knowing Jesus than believing that He is the Son of God and good.  Study the words He has written.  And take time to talk them over with Him over a cup of coffee, or tea.  Seek His understanding and His wisdom.  When you are in a time of crises, or at a crossroads and need to know His will, there is not enough time to develop this kind of relationship with Him.  You can’t know His will then.  Start building now.  Then when the hard times, or the questions come, you will know His will, and will only need to seek to understand it.

Why Pray Scripture?

I have stated in previous posts that God is teaching me how to pray. One of the things I am learning to do is to use Scripture in my prayers. The first time I heard someone talk about praying Scripture, I smiled, and nodded my head, not wanting to look like I was clueless. But I was clueless. Over time, and with much study of God’s Word, I have begun to recognize when I hear Scripture being prayed. It is simply the act of taking a Bible verse or passage, and changing the words just enough so that they are coming from you, directed to God. Some verses, of course, are prayers, and so it is easy to simply pray them. Others are not prayers, but can be converted. For those of you who aren’t certain what I mean, let me give you an example.

A prayer for rain and a good harvest:
Psalm 65:9-13 (NCV) – You take care of the land and water it; you make it fertile. The rivers of God are full of water. Grain grows because you make it grow. You send rain to the plowed fields; you fill the rows with water. You soften the ground with rain, and then you bless it with crops. You give the year a good harvest, and you load the wagons with many crops. The desert is covered with grass and the hills with happiness. The pastures are full of flocks, and the valleys are covered with grain. Everything shouts and sings for joy.
Prayer: God, You take care of the land and water it; You make it fertile. Lord, Your rivers are full of water. Grain grows because You make grow. Father, please send rain, fill the rows with water. Soften the ground with rain, and bless it with crops. I ask that you cover this dry land with grass, and the hills with happiness. Please fill the pastures with flocks and livestock, and cover the valleys with grain. May everything shout for joy and sing your praises!

We are in a drought where I live, and so even though there are many who complain about the rain, I won’t apologize for praying for it. 🙂

I pray 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:3-4, and 1 John 5:14-15 for the salvation of specific people. I just plug in their names. The verses from Peter and Timothy talk about how it is not God’s will that anyone perish, but that they come to the truth, and repentence. Therefore, I know that it is His will that all people, including those whose names I plug in, become saved. The verses in 1 John reminds me that when we pray within God’s will, he will give us our petitions. I pray that to as I thank Him for His faithfulness.

The more a person reads the Bible, the more verses are found that can be used as prayers. I pray prayers of praise, worship, petition, repentance and seeking forgiveness. These are by no means the extent of my prayers, but I do use them, often. For me, I find that if I whisper, or speak them outloud, they somehow become more personalized. I own them more. Which is strange because normally when I pray, I need to pray internally, or I feel disconnected from my words. I don’t know why that is. Maybe I’m just weird:-) My point here is that you may need to pray Scriptures at different times and in different ways so that you find the way that helps you to make the words your own as you take them before the Father. If it feels hollow to you praying one way, try another. The only thing I would caution is that you not make them your only prayer time. You still need those words that come straight from your own heart, that connect your spirit to God’s spirit.

Now, I still haven’t answered the question of why. Why should we use Scripture to pray? I grappled with this before I began praying Scripture. I even grappled with it after I had been praying them for quite a while and had noticed a change in my prayer life. So I prayed about the why. I asked God to show me, and He did.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NCV) says “All Scripture is given by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right. Using Scriptures, the person who serves God will be capable, having all that is needed to do every good work.”

The answer is in the first 6 words. All Scripture is given by God. The Bible is the inspired Word of God. The words are His. If they came from God, does it not make sense to use the words that He pleased to have in His book to
communicate with Him? What better way to pray within His will than to pray
His words? Praying Scripture is one element to enhancing, deepening your prayer time with your Lord, and thus strengthening your relationship with Him.

Savior Yes, But Lord?

I was listening to a radio pastor recently while driving down the road, as I often do. He closed his message by asking the listener if Jesus was their Lord and Savior. Interesting question. Perhaps more interesting is the order of the words. Let me break it down and ask the question without the compound word “and.”

Is Jesus your Lord? Is He The Lord of your life? Have you surrendered yourself completely to Him? Have you asked Him to make you who He wants you to be? Have you asked Him to mold you and shape you, as a potter molds and shapes clay, into a vessel able to pour out God’s love on all those around you? Do you obey traffic laws because Jesus is The Lord of your life, and you know that He put those who make the laws in authority over you? Do you obey your employer’s rules because you work for them as though you are working for Jesus, Himself? Do you obey Him, even when you don’t want to, as a sacrifice to your Lord? Do you sin, seek forgiveness, and sin again, without true repentence, without surrendering that area of your life to Jesus and asking Him to change that in you? Do you long to spend time with Him? Do you hunger and thirst after His righteousness in your life? Do you pray without ceasing because He is the first one you desire to turn to all throughout your day and night? Do you wake up in the morning thanking God for another day, and eagerly looking forward to time devoted and set aside to read His word and pray and worship Him? And do you go to bed at night thanking Him for His blessings? Is He in your heart and mind, never far from every thought? Is His name always on the tip of your tongue? Have you given His Holy Spirit the throne of your heart so that His presence within you is becoming as though you are one together?

Or. Or is Jesus your Savior only? Once upon a time you told Him you believe that He is God’s Son, that He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, then took your sins to the cross and paid that penalty that you deserve to pay. You believed that Jesus came back to life, and is living in Heaven now, while His Spirit is here on earth with us. You may confess it in church on Sunday as a part of the litergy. You sing it with the congregation. You recite the prayers, or at least bow your head when the pastor prays. But when you walk out the door of the church, you leave Jesus behind a barrier that you have erected there. Like a cloak, you put Jesus on when you enter the building, and you take Him back off before you leave. That is where He stays. He is your Savior. You are grateful. But not so grateful that you are ready to bring Him into your outside world. He is not your Lord.

Brothers and Sisters, Jesus did not die for you so you could get a weekly reprieve from your guilt. He did not die for you so you could live how you want during the week knowing you have a safety net that will pull you from the depths on the day of judgement. He offered His salvation free of charge, but when you accepted it, you were bought at a very high price, a price that only God could afford. You belong to Him. He is your Lord. He is calling you to make Him Lord, not only in name, but in deed also. Jesus took your filthy sins. He bore the intense weight of your guilt, and bled and died your death. Then He covered you with His purity and promised you life eternal. Does He not deserve to be The Lord of your life, lock, stock and barrel?

Time is short. The end is near. Soon Jesus will return. He needs all of His people to be serving Him with all of their hearts in this time so that as many as will receive Him will become sons of God.

Verses (from the NKJV):
Luke 6:46 – “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”
John 13:13-15 – “You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”
Romans 10:13 – For whoever calls on the name of The Lord shall be saved.
Romans 13:1-2 – Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgement on themselves.
Colossians 3:22-24 – Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to The Lord and not to men, knowing that from The Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve The Lord Christ.
Psalm 4:5 (NCV) – Do what is right as a sacrifice to The Lord and trust The Lord.
Isaiah 44:22 – “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Isaiah 64:8 – But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.

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