(John 14:12-14) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”
The last few days the subject of prayer has been on my heart. We have heard so many different “formulas” for prayer; we can hear them daily on “Christian” TV. They have formulas for getting out of debt, formulas for healing, formulas for everything. A popular one is trying to convince people to give to certain ministries (sow your seed) so God will reward them with answered prayers. This sounds like trying to buy favors from the Lord.
It grieves my heart and I am sure the Lord’s heart as well that his people are being so deceived. But this only happens when they do not have a real love for the truth. The scriptures say they perish: “…because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10) They are drawn away by their own desires. James 1:14 says: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust (desire), and enticed.”
I’m not here to dispel all theological error that man has come up with in these last two thousand years in attempts to get God to do man’s bidding. I just want to share a simple truth of God’s word; it is all about HIM and not about US or our desires.
The above verses in John 14:12-14 taken out of context is just one example. People believe that all they need to do is make out a wish list or a prayer list as they call it, present it to the Lord and finish the prayer with “In Jesus’ name”. They believe this is praying in his name, but saying it that does not make it so. This is not what it means to pray in his name. In fact, doing this is more like taking the Lord’s name in vain. Putting the Lord’s name to something that he has not said, is taking His name in vain.
James 4:3 says: "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” The word "lust" here means “pleasure”. Things that seem good or right in our own eyes without inquiring of the Lord is praying amiss.
If we read the earlier verses in John chapter 14 Jesus was responding to a request of Philip. Jesus had said: “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.”
“Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” (John 14:8-10)
Jesus said that when they saw him, they saw his father. Philip didn’t understand this. Jesus was the complete representation and the very imagine of the Father. Jesus did not come in his own authority, wants or desires. He only came to do the will of his father. (see Heb 10:7,9) He is talking about an intimate relationship between himself and the father, they are one. He has prepared a way for us to grow into this same union with him and the father and even to walk as he walked.
(1 John 2:5-6) “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
Continuing on in the 14th chapter he gives us a promise…if we do the same thing and have this same mind, he will send the Spirit of Truth to us; if we live in obedience to him.
(John 14:15-21) “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
Without the Spirit of Truth we cannot know him nor have the mind of Christ for it is spiritually discerned. How then can we pray according to his will as Christ did accord to the will of his father? “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)
Prayer should become more about learning from our father and listening to him rather than just giving him a list of request. We would do much better if we were to wait on the Lord, listen for his mind and ask him to place his desires in our hearts. As we yield to him, he places in our hearts the things he would have us pray. Then we can pray with confidence that he hears us. “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)