When I first became a Christian, I struggled with the concept of prayer. Some people would have a Wed eve prayer service. They would list the health woes in gory detail and ask for prayer, without expecting any results. Others would disagree and say, “Whatever you pray for, in Jesus name, he will answer.” The first kind I knew was wrong because it was so depressing. The second was intriguing because it expected results. It felt almost like magic to just add the formula “in Jesus Name.” to the end of any prayer and He had to answer it. Was that right? I was confused.
Well, I went to the source, and sure enough, John 14:13 says “Whatever you ask in my name, that I will do.” Well, that set me back. All I had to do was add the words, “In Jesus name.” to the end of any prayer, and it would be done. It felt wrong, but I sat back and watched. Many would go around and add the three words and expect miracles. I noticed something though, frequently, they would do it in a way that glorified themselves. I returned to 14:13, and noticed that it ended, “that the Father may be glorified.” Frequently, when God did not do what the prayer asked, people would seek a better answer. They might use, “in Jesus name,” many times in the prayer, or use a better form of Jesus like Joshua or Yeshua. I still pondered, did God mean for us to use such a legalistic formula?
About then, I had a pastor whose wife was diagnosed with cancer. They quoted Matt 21:21 “If you have faith and do not doubt, even if you say to this mountain, ‘be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it shall happen. All things you ask in prayer believing, you shall receive.” They believed absolutely that she would be healed. They didn’t let a shadow of doubt creep in. Since they believed absolutely, God had to heal her. She died of the cancer, and it destroyed him. I realized that this was another form of magic. Suddenly I asked myself, “Are we trusting our faith, or are we trusting God?” Never-the-less, if these two types of positive powerful prayer are wrong, is the boring, depressing, Wed night prayer the right way?
As I struggled, I saw other types of magic, such as the repetitive prayer. This is like the person who prays every night for the salvation of their children, afraid to miss a single night. I had to really look at this question further; Do we pray, not expecting God to do it, or do we use one of these magic formulas? The answer was neither. John 15:16 leads us in the right direction, “I appointed you that you should go and bear fruit that remains, that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you. Bearing fruit is seeing people get saved. Our leading people to the Lord doesn’t force God’s hand to answer, but there is this connection, but how? I could make up a connection, but I learned that we don’t take verses alone. They have to agree with the rest of scripture. If I could find more, I may learn how to have powerful prayer.
I looked at the quote in John 9:31, “We know that God does not hear sinners, but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.” God not hearing sinners is from the Old Testament, but God-fearing? The result of fearing God is to be humble, ie you don’t glorify yourself. So then, how do we do His will? Well, I could see that we were appointed to bear fruit, so since that is doing His will, bearing fruit would get answered prayer. Finally, I looked at John 15:7, “if you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done.” Abide is not like a temporary filling, but a long term concept. I stayed in Portugal for a month and a half, but I abide in America.
I put this together. The closest I could come was an army. You join the army as a private, and they supply all your needs, such as food, clothing, housing, and the tools to do the job. They take care of you as long as you do the job. If you refuse, it is punishment time. As you get promoted higher and higher, you need more to do the job expected. A general would tell his superiors, if you want me to do this job, I need so many men and these weapons. They may not supply everything he wants, but will supply what he needs. Typically, the army has many people who can do the job, many who are gifted. The general should not think of glorifying himself but doing the job.
Let’s put this in Christian terms. If you are smoking or drinking or overeating, refusing to stop and making yourself sick, you are sinning and God will not hear. Don’t expect God to heal. If you are sick, but not for a sinful reason, God has a job. Satan may want to destroy you like he tried to do to Job, but God wants you to abide in Him. If you have cancer, He may ask you to be healed victoriously, but he may ask you to die victoriously, because you are the only one able to reach the others dying of cancer. Jesus sometimes but not always healed, but when He did, it was to glorify God. We walk in trust, remembering all things work together, not for my best, but for our best. Consider Jesus. Because He loved people, He came to earth, He suffered for the people He loved (everyone), though He prayed exceedingly to not die on the cross, for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross. Now He wants us to be like Him. Love everyone, suffer for everyone, be willing to die for everyone. He will supply everything you need, and when you pray in His name, according to His will, you will only ask for what you need to do the job. He will supply it. When Paul asked for others to pray for him, it was for just these needs. This is powerful prayer, when you are filled with love and only asking for what is needed so other can get saved and grow in Him, and for what glorifies God. I saw that taking one verse allowed you to misinterpret, but putting many together leads us to powerful results. Humbly walk by trust and pray powerfully, my friends.
Well said. The whole picture of trusting and entrusting God with our prayer is much bigger than our desired results in our timing. Thanks. yet God truly wants us to know that kind of relational prayer fellowship with Him.