Pastor Bruce Simpkins
Renewal Community Church
Preached: June 6, 2010
This is the 7th and last message about the prayers of Jesus.
Looking back on all of the prayers of Jesus and His teaching about prayer, we begin understand that His relationship was with God the Father was unlike any other relationship. It was perfect. You can’t get better than perfect. And because of this perfect relationship, He told His disciples and us that we can now pray IN HIS NAME. Jesus is THE way. He conquered death. He has been glorified and He continues to glorify God the Father. He is the gate that we pass through to enter into eternity with Him. It is in His name that all things become possible. That is why He repeated over and over in 3 consecutive chapters of the Gospel of John that we should pray in His name.
John 14:13-14 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Is this a magical “Open Sesame” that will give us any desire or whim we want? Of course not. We do not believe in a “name it and claim it” theology. This is an invitation that comes out of having an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus. It means we ask according to the pleasure of the one in whose name we are asking it. Not our own. But if we know Jesus would have us cast a mountain into the sea, it can be done! I know this is true because of what Jesus tells us in the next chapter.
John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
A servant takes orders and follows directions without knowing why. We do serve Jesus, but we are more than just servants. Our faith is developed through an intimate relationship with Jesus. We know Him and He knows us. Jesus said John 10:14-15 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Going back to chapter 15 Jesus said,
John 15:16-17 I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
What are we appointed to do? To bear lasting fruit. What is the fruit we are to bear? Verse 17, Love each other. This is what He appointed us to do. THEN we can ask in His name. That is the test of our friendship with Jesus. Are we asking out of love for each other? Or love for ourselves? If we ask from a selfish point of view, that is NOT the lasting fruit and we will be disappointed. If we ask out of love for each other, THEN, the Father will give you whatever you ask in Jesus name. Jesus carries this thought on in chapter 16 of John.
John 16:22-28 Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 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. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
Notice in verse 28 that Jesus has a relationship with God the Father that none of us have. This relationship gives Him an authority that you and I do not have in ourselves. Jesus said He was going BACK to the father which means He was first with the Father. In fact He was with the Father before the world was created because He was fully God and a part of God when the world was created. When we looked at Jesus 7 last words from the cross, we know saw graphically that He was fully man, but now we see there was also fully God. There are many scriptures about this, but lets just look at the one Jesus gives us Himself in the next chapter of John, chapter 17. Jesus said:
John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
We were NOT with God before we were born. He was thinking about us before we were born, as it says in Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you . . . but we did not exist until He created and formed us in the womb. I make this distinction because there is a prevalent Mormon theology that people sometimes get confused about. We were not beings in heaven waiting for a body. That is not Biblical and it is not the truth.
1 Cor 15:45-47 “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.
So we have no authority in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves. If we have any authority or adequacy or competence it is only because God made us that way through His new covenant . . . not of the law but of the Spirit, for the law kills but the Spirit gives life.
But now, we are intimate friends of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, John 16:27 the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. We do believe that Jesus came from God the Father and we do love Him (Jesus, God the Son). Therefore we have been given permission from Jesus himself to go straight to God the Father and ask for anything in His name. And as we approach the Father, we do it in the way we learned a couple of weeks ago when Jesus was in Gethsemane at the “oil press”. So we, like Jesus, keep a humble, childlike attitude of, “But Your will be done”.
Cathy and I went for a drive on Friday into the Owyhee mountains. Before we left I looked online and found out that we were allowed to take a “reasonable” amount of rock home with us for free which we could use around the little waterfall in our back yard. So we started collecting some rocks and had a modest little pile in the back of my truck. And along came a ranger . . . He looked at the “reasonable” amount of rocks and said his idea and my idea and a judges idea of “reasonable” could all be different. So I said, (not in these words) I am asking if I can keep this pile of rocks . . . but “your will be done. I you think it is too much, I will gladly put some back”. I can ask in the name of the state of Idaho, but I do it according to the pleasure of the one in whose name I am asking. The good news is that our Father in Heaven is more generous and loving than the state of Idaho. He gives to those who are His friends and ask in Jesus name.
There’s and old illustration about this. It is about a father who took his son, Randy, to a carnival. He told Randy he could invite any of his friends he wanted to have come along. So Randy invited two of his best friends and when they arrived at the carnival, the father bought a big roll of tickets and handed them out to each boy as they went on the rides.
After a little while another boy came up to the father and asked for some tickets. The father said, but I don’t know you! The boy said, “Randy said that if I mentioned his name and told you I was his friend you would give me some tickets.” And that is exactly what the father did.
When we pray to the father, we are like the little boy asking for tickets. In fact, Jesus said, “you don’t even have to ask me…just go straight to the father and ask him in my name and you will get it”.
I was taught somewhat pragmatically when I was growing up, that all prayers should be ended this way without question. And that is actually a good practice , as long as it keeps its meaning.
Which brings us full circle in our 7 prayer messages. We started with the Lord’s prayer which can also lose its full meaning if it is repeated mindlessly. But as we discussed, the Lord’s prayer is the heart of all our prayers. It is not just a primer prayer for beginning pray-ers. It is the foundation prayer for mature pray-ers and is at the root of all prayer.
And it is the same with “In Jesus Name”. Formulas are good because they remind us of important things we don’t want to ever forget. So lets continue to use the words Jesus gave us, but let those words always keep their full meaning as you say them.
And so, in Jesus name, may you embrace the prayer He taught us to pray and learn the depth of each part of that prayer. May you come before the Father humble as a child and confident in the prayers Jesus prayed for you. As you love and pray for each other, may you stay connected to the body by allowing them to also pray for you. And may your prayers become as essential for your spiritual life as breathing is to your physical life until the two become one. And may you always pray in the name of the One who is our friend in Heaven and within His good pleasure. Lets Pray.
[I pray that] . . .you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! IN JESUS NAME Amen.