John 16:26-27 “In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”
This is an enormously important passage that has shaped the way Christians have prayed for 2000 years, but at the same time it is a truth that we have trouble believing. We automatically tack, “In Jesus’ name” onto our prayers, hardly thinking what that means, and we are very slow to believe the Father really loves us individually. That last part is why so many people pray to Mary or any of a number of saints. If Jesus Himself said He didn’t need to ask the Father for things on our behalf, it makes no sense whatsoever to ask anyone else! We conflate Father God with our human fathers, and feel that He’s too busy to listen to us, and we’re too unimportant anyway. Jesus directly contradicts that kind of thinking here, saying that if we love Him and believe in Him, that’s enough for the Father. We have such trouble believing that’s true! When even human-created computers can do literally millions of things simultaneously, why would the Creator of the universe be unable to care personally about each of His children, listening to them and meeting their needs? Jesus told us the Father even keeps track of how many hairs we have on our head! (Matthew 10:30) All we need to keep track of is loving and believing Jesus. Of course, if that love is genuine it will prompt full obedience. (John 14:15, etc.) We have a tendency to forget that little caveat. We like to run off and do our own thing, and then pop off a little prayer and expect God to answer, like some sort of supernatural valet. How foolish! God responds to our love for Him and His Son, and that love is objectively measured by obedience. Of course, we all stumble at times. However, the very person who recorded these words of Jesus also wrote, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9) That is where faith comes in. We’ve got to believe that God’s love and grace are greater than any sin we could possibly commit, but never take that as permission to sin. When we have that firmly in our heart and mind, then nothing can keep us from praying, with great joy at being able to talk with such a marvelous heavenly Father.
I had the enormous blessing of being raised in a home where prayer was as natural as breathing. As a result, I have never hesitated to pray. My wife has even complained that I should let her know when I’m about to pray! It has never seemed strange to me that God would be aware of every detail of His creation. If He knows everything I say anyway, why would I hesitate to address words to Him? At the same time, I am growing in my understanding of what it means to pray in Jesus’ name. If my prayer, my heart, is not in line with Him, then tacking His name onto my wish list isn’t going to accomplish anything. The heart of everything I ask of God has got to be, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” However, if that is at the heart of my prayer, then I can pray with total freedom and boldness.
Father, thank You for the incredible privilege of prayer. Help me never take it lightly, and help me be more and more effective in communicating Your plan for prayer, Your desire for fellowship, to each of the believers, so that they too may rejoice to walk with You in full intimacy at all times, for their eternal blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!