Two Women, Two Prayers, Two Answers
John 15—check out verse 16: "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you."
We must ask in His Name.
Here are a couple things that I noticed about asking in the name of Jesus, from verses 5-17:
- Asking "in His name" fills us with Christ's joy, v. 11.
- Asking "in His name" brings glory to the Father, v. 8.
- Asking "in His name" results in receiving what has been requested, v. 7.
- Asking "in His name" finds its root in God's love and results in love, vv. 9-10, 17.
Sounds pretty incredible, huh? But what does it mean to ask "in His name" in the first place?
As I asked myself this question and continued to study, I found that the word "name" carries with it the idea of asking in the authority of Christ. Just as a courier couldn't announce a royal decree from his king in the town square unless the scroll carried the King's seal of approval, we cannot ask in the authority of Christ unless our prayers carry His stamp of approval. We must ask for the will of Christ.
When we pray in His name biblically, we're praying as Jesus outlined for the disciples in The Lord's Prayer: "Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." No, we cannot be certain that God will give us every earthly desire of our hearts. We can be certain that He will act upon His own heavenly desires.
Here's what I mean. Two women were members of my last church: Connie and Jill. Both were young-in their 30s-and both were diagnosed with terminal cancer. An intercessory prayer meeting was held for Connie through our church, and the next X-ray showed no lingering trace of the malignant cells. The doctors floundered for a medical explanation, and everyone praised God. Jill, on the other hand, died at age 35 after being diagnosed with lymphoma just a couple months after her wedding. Same church. Same prayer meetings. Same faith in the sovereignty and goodness of God.
Connie lived and Jill died. Not because our congregation prayed in greater faith for Connie. They didn't. Not because Connie had more faith than Jill. Because God willed it.
He willed Connie to glorify Him through praising His name on earth, and He willed Jill to glorify Him through praising His name in heaven. The life of the one and death of the other both resulted in hearts turning toward Him. Both requests "in His name" were fulfilled equally, just as Jesus promised.
"This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1 John 5:14).
"According to His will." These are the key words on which our confidence hinges. Could this be where joy is truly found—not in receiving all the answers we initially desire, but in the re-molding of all our desires after God's?
Amy Carmichael understood this well. In a poignant poem, she prayed:
And shall I pray Thee change Thy will, my Father,
Until it be according unto mine?
But no, Lord, no, that never shall be, rather
I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.
This kind of prayer isn't an effort to subdue God to our will, but the reverse-to subdue our wills to His. It's a kind of wrestling that does not belittle God, but exalts Him as Lord.
Making a request in "Jesus' name" is far more than idly repeating the phrase at the close of a prayer. Petitioning God "in His name" necessitates submitting our will to His. That's the very heart of John 15—and that's where our true hope lies.
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