Asking in the Name of Jesus
Herewith is the summary I gave at the end of Sunday’s message, giving a top-ten list of some things that are operative when we “ask in the name of Jesus”:
- Association: We are identifying ourselves with Jesus as the Son of the Father, and accepting our identity as sons and daughters of the Father. We are not outsiders but family. Jesus has put his name upon us. “To pray in Jesus’ Name means to be freed from ourselves…Praying in Jesus’ name we are set free in our inner selves to take on our identity in Jesus as the Son of God.” (Don Carson)We share a common cause in our asking. We are invited to ask on His account, and, as it were, draw on his account. He is asking us to ask for him, on his behalf as it were. To ask in his name is to ask for Him, and not for ourselves. Our name is not on it. So close is this association, it is as if the asker were Jesus himself, and as askers, we cannot but be lovingly welcomed as Jesus is loved. It is as if we have Jesus’ asking-nature in us. If we have Christ’s mind we will ask what he would ask for. Is this not what he said in His own great asking prayer in John 17? He asked that the world would know that the Father loved his disciples “as you love me.” It should also be said that this association is more than just ‘dwelling’ with Him. He ‘indwells’ us so that His very spirit is within us, expressing our asking to the Father.
- Access: We have access to the Father by the blood of Jesus. We have access in His name. Without this access we are left with our own independence. Where there is no dependence there is no asking.
- Approach: Because Jesus is the great high priest who has gone before us, we not only have access, but we have the invitation and authority to boldly approach the throne of grace itself. To get into the White House is one thing, but to get into the Oval Office is quite another. It is one thing to have the code to get into a place where we have no personal authority or leverage, and another to be able to walk the corridors to the very inner chambers of the operation. The name of Jesus is our security pass and assures us of both access and approach. You cannot be given access but denied approach. We are all in the inner circle of His love and power when it comes to our asking in Jesus’ name.
- Acceptance: We know that the only ground of our acceptance is “in the Beloved.” (Ephs.1:6) The acceptance of our asking is not assured by the legitimacy of our needs or requests, or even the sincerity of our affections. Because we are in the beloved, we ask in the beloved’s name.
- Assurance: It is because of who Jesus is, that his name is the confident calling card for all our asking. There is no confidence in our own name, or in the reasonableness and righteousness of our petitions. We have no leverage of ourselves. We have no persuasive credentials or communications in which we can be assured. As John put it so clearly to his readers (1 Jn. 5:13-15), our assurance is believing “in the name of the son of God” and in asking “according to his will.” It is this knowledgethat assures us, and that now produces the assured “confidence we have in approaching God” assured that He hears us and will answer us. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine, and He has set His name upon me, so when I ask, it is by His name that I am known as an asker. Is it any wonder that in a timeless treatise on assurance published in 1654, that Thomas Brooks would conclude: “Usually the most praying souls are the most assured souls.” Our assurance in His name persuades us to ask, and as we do so, our asking becomes “an inlet to assurance.” Assurance is both the premise and the product of our asking in Jesus’ Name.
- Appropriateness: Obviously if Jesus’ name is on it we cannot be asking for something that is not in keeping with who he is. This is a sanctifying effect on our requests.
- Agreement: Foundational to the agreement that invites us to ask in his name, is our agreement with everything that Jesus says about himself, and everything scripture reveals about him, in which we fully believe. We also live in agreement with his commands and obediently love him. His name is inseparable from his will so to ask in his name is to ask in agreement with his will and his word. It is only possible to ask for the same things that Jesus would ask for. We cannot make a claim for anything that Jesus would not claim. The nature of what we ask for will conform to Jesus’ nature. Our need for ourselves, or anyone else, will be His need. Asking in his name will be in agreement with his purpose and his passions. Asking “in his name” will always be “for His sake.” When we ask, in agreement with Jesus, according to the Father’s will in heaven, then we draw on an unquantifiable resource that is more than sufficient for any and every possible thing we could ever ask for.
- Authority: There is authority in Jesus’ name recognized by angels as well as demons. Jesus has authorized us to be his representatives, so we have assurance that we will be recognized by the Father as those who are therefore authorized ask-ers and agents of that authority.
- Audacity: Although this has become a pejorative term it actually has to do with boldness. Asking in the name of Jesus gives us the same boldness that Jesus himself has, given confidence in the Father, and assurance about the will and the word of God. This is the asking that precisely because it acknowledges personal limitation, has the courage to go to the limit, to ask all the way, realizing that God invites us to test Him, though he is not thereby tested!
- Approval: To ask in Jesus’ name is to have approval for what we request. I love that statement of Jesus in Jn. 6:27, talking of himself: “On him God has placed his seal of approval.” Jesus is approved of God, so his name carries that approval. But also, we seek his approval in our asking, looking for his “Amen” not just ours. We also need to know that what we ask for meets with his approval. We can only endorse our asking with his name if it is consistent with the character of that name.“Prayers in his name are prayers that are offered in thorough accord with all that his name stands for.” (J.N.Sanders) So important is this hallowed and reverential relationship between the character of his name and the content of our asking, that John Calvin’s conviction was that to by-pass his name was tantamount to “a profanation of God’s name.” We cannot ask Jesus to “pass on” through his intercession anything that does not accord with his name.
We are agreed then that to ask in Jesus’ name is not to use a magic mantra. In both Jewish and Roman tradition there were magicians who used to use names of deities (secret names of God in the case of Jewish charlatans) to invoke the power for magic. We see an example of this in Acts 19 where Jews, including the seven sons of Sceva “tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed.” (19:13) Talking of Roman practices at the time of Jesus, their prayers were often said in the name of any number of gods, in the desperate hope that one of them might come up trumps! How wonderful that we ask confidently in only one name, because “there is no other name”! We are also agreed that to ask in His name is not to use a rubber stamp. Because the name of God represents the sum of His character and nature, when we ask in Jesus’ name, it is not just a vague slogan, to endorse vague and generalized non-specific prayers. We can be very specific about the very specific characteristics of Jesus that are summed up in that name, that we are asking to be applied to the very specific situation that we are asking about. (Any phrase stand out there?) Here’s to more specific asking in Jesus’ name!