QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
PRAYING IN THE NAME OF JESUS
By: Bodé Adeboyejo
Note: Here is a response to a series of questions/comments by a reader to the article: Praying in the Name of Jesus. If you didn't read Praying in the Name of Jesus, I'd recommend that you read it before reading this, in order to get the full story.
Thank you so much for your comments, concerns, and especially your questions, concerning the article, Praying in the Name of Jesus. They are very great questions that I believe need to be addressed to a wider audience. Therefore, with your permission, what I’ve decided to do is answer them one at a time, in the order in which you asked them.
So, here goes:
1. “And when you are located and situated in something or someone, you can only ask what’s in where you are located.” (Quote from Praying in the Name of Jesus)
My comment: Does it mean you cannot wish to be in America when you are currently located in Nigeria?
RESPONSE: Being located in Nigeria and wanting to come to America (or any parts of the world) is not the same as being in the Kingdom of God, and wanting to be in the Kingdom of the world (the world system). Consider being in God’s Kingdom as being in a foreign embassy. A foreign embassy, (like God’s Kingdom) is self-sustaining. That is, everything anybody in the embassy needs to survive or for sustenance is in the embassy.
Now, if you really think that you are self-sufficient within the embassy (in this case the Kingdom), why would you want anything in the world? If you think that you are self-sufficient in Nigeria, you wouldn’t want anything in America (or anywhere else). To want anything in America, is saying that you are not self-sufficient in Nigeria. So, for a Christian to want anything in the world is to say that the Kingdom of God is not sufficient.
Again, being in God’s Kingdom and wanting something in the world is not exactly the same thing as being in Nigeria and wanting to be located in America. Remember, what we are talking about here is what we pray for in the name of Jesus Christ. You can pray about coming to America. But don’t pray in the name of Jesus, because that’s not in the name!
2. “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (Quote from Praying in the Name of Jesus)
My comment: This scripture did not define the word “anything”. It is assumed that whatever our heart desires, He will give us. Take for instance, seeking for a contract. Are you saying we cannot pray to God to make it happen for us? Is getting the contract not to His glory?
RESPONSE: The passage did not define “anything,” however, the scripture again did say “in my name.” So, the question to you is this, “based on what I’ve written about being “in His name,” and what I wrote above, do you think that seeking a contract is in His name? I’ll let you answer that.
Now, while you are meditating on that, the same Bible says “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” -- Philippians 2:5. So, if you have the mind of Christ, you won’t be seeking earthly things that are temporal and corrupt, but you’ll be asking for heavenly things that are eternal and incorruptible.
Another question for you, “When you seek a contract, are you really seeking the contract primarily to glorify God or are you seeking it to make some money to put food on the table? I’ll want to believe that it’s to make some money to meet your needs. Right? And there’s nothing wrong with that. However, there are several ways God can meet your needs without you getting a contract necessarily.
So to put it kindly, no, seeking a contract is NOT in His name!
Also, you said that “It is assumed that whatever our heart desires, He will give us.” Really? So, if your heart desires another woman, that’s not your wife, do you think that God will give you that? By the way, there are a lot of things our hearts desire that have nothing to do with God. In fact, mostly what our hearts desire are fleshly.
The passage you referenced did not define anything, but surely, contextually it does not say anything your heart desires. But rather, anything in His Name.
3. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” (Quote from Praying in the Name of Jesus)
My comment: I think the above scripture quoted by you is the most important criteria for receiving His Grace. The condition, as stated here, is to abide in Him and let His words abide in us. He says: “You will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you”. Of course, once you are God’s you won’t ask that He protects you while you steal. So it is expected that your demands will be the ones that will be pleasing to him.
RESPONSE: I think you are right on this comment above. Like you said, “…your demands will be the ones that will be pleasing to him.” So, when your demands are pleasing to Him, you’ll be asking for things that are in Him. That is, in His Kingdom, not outside of His Kingdom. God can only give you what’s in His Kingdom, not what’s not in His Kingdom. Just like you can only give your child what’s in your house. Not what’s in your neighbor’s house. But it’s like your child asking you for something in your neighbor’s house; even though you have quite a few things in your house as well. Well, as much as the child may want that thing, you don’t have control over your neighbor’s house, but you only have control over your house.
Now, if I may reiterate, the main reason why I wrote the article is to call our attention to the fact that for too long, as Christians, we have been asking for things in the neighbor’s house. We have been incorrectly taught, knowingly or unknowingly, to seek corruptible things that are in the world, rather than the incorruptible things that are in the Kingdom. In other words, the whole purpose of the article is to cause us, Christians, to re-train ourselves to truly seek what’s in the Kingdom when we pray, and not what’s in the world.
4. “Now, let me say that even things that are in the name are not automatic…” “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Quote from Praying in the Name of Jesus)
My Comment: Now consider this. If you say Peace is not automatic, you now quote Isaiah that says, once you trust him (that is the condition!) you automatically receive that perfect peace. Can this be a challenge of semantics? I think this is contradictory.
RESPONSE: No, this is not a contradiction, but a problem with interpretation. Isaiah didn’t say that you automatically receive peace. He said that you’ll be kept in perfect peace if your mind is stayed on him. Think about it, if peace were automatic for Christians, why then are we stressed sometimes? Peace is only automatic for a Christian, IF his/her mind is stayed on Him. The word stayed, in Isaiah 26:3 means “to lean or lay upon,” “to lean against,” “to sustain, refresh, revive,” etc.
As long as our minds are stayed on Him, that is, as long as our minds are “leaning or resting” on His word, and not on our situations or issues, we’ll have peace. But when our minds lean or rest on our situations or circumstances, it robs us of our peace.
Case in point, Apostle Peter when he tried to walk on water…As long as he kept his eyes (or mind) on Jesus, he was fine. He had peace. But the moment he took his eyes (or mind) off Jesus, he was troubled and started to sink. No one dwells on a troubling situation and has peace. In fact, the difference between a Christian that has peace and one that doesn’t is in what they are both dwelling on. Not in their situations. The one that dwells on the Word has peace. And the one that dwells on his situations or circumstances has stress.
5. …I told him that while there’s nothing wrong in praying that a person be healed; we still ought to pray that God’s will be done eventually... “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (Quote from Praying in the Name of Jesus)
My Comment: I must confess I am lost here. Truly, why do we pray if His will must be done no matter how hard we pray? Are you saying God does not change His mind? I think He does. Examples in the bible abound. What do you think? I am cool with the fact that when we face challenges, we must give thanks and accept His will for us. But why do we pray and ask for our heart desires?
I can see more topical issues begging to be addressed coming from my enquiries. Bode, over to you. I need to learn more.
RESPONSE: First let me say that there are several questions within this comment. And I’ll try to address each question. It’s true that there are few examples in the Bible where God changed His mind. At least it seemed like He changed His mind. The most prominent being the story of Hezekiah when he was sick, and God gave him 15 more years, after he prayed to God (2 Kings 20:1-11). So, can God change His mind? Yes and no! Yes, if you look at it superficially. However, if you look at it carefully, it may be that God in His Omniscience knew what Hezekiah’s response would be, and decided to extend his years even before He sent Isaiah to him to break the news. But for the sake of argument, we are going to stay on the superficial level, and say, “Yes!” God does change His mind.
However, let me say that when we pray we don’t (or shouldn’t) pray to change God’s mind. He knows better than we do. We know what we want, but He knows what we need. And most times when we pray we pray for what we want, not what we need. And why would a finite man want to change the mind of Infinity? Why would a man with limited knowledge want to change the mind of Omniscience (the All-Knowing)?
It’s like a six-year-old asking his father for the car keys to let him drive. And the father knowing that he’s not old enough to drive yet says “No.” Now, what good would it do the six-year-old, should his father change his mind, and hands him the car keys? And that’s how we are with God when we pray. We are often asking for things that are not good for us, or will harm us, and He’s withholding those things from us to keep us from harming ourselves.
Think about it, how many times have you prayed for something or someone that looking back you were glad God didn’t answer your prayer? Either for a spouse or a job, a contract, etc.? What if you had been able to change God’s mind then?
Besides, the Bible says that we don’t know what to pray for “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” - Romans 8:26-27
This is one of the reasons why it’s good to pray in the Spirit; because it is not intelligible to you. Therefore, you are not asking for what you want but what you need. That is, when you pray in the Spirit, you pray the will of the Father.
The other question you asked is this, “Truly, why do we pray if His will must be done no matter how hard we pray?... But why do we pray and ask for our heart desires?”
I think this is a very good question that many people have in their hearts. However, I believe that the reason many people ask this question is because they don’t know why we pray. And when you don’t know why you pray, you won’t know how to pray. Again, let me say that we don’t pray to change God’s mind. But we pray to seek His will concerning what we pray about.
Besides, there are different types of prayer: prayer of praise, worship, adoration, thanksgiving, supplication, intercession, salvation, petition (which unfortunately is about 90% of our prayer), etc. And if you think that prayer is just about petition, then you may ask, “Why pray when God’s will is going to be done anyway?”
So, why do we pray? We pray to praise Him. We pray to adore Him. We pray to thank Him. We pray for deliverance. We pray for direction. We pray for guidance. We pray for assistance. We pray for other people’s salvation. Need I go on? And because we have all these reasons to pray, we have no choice but pray.
Why do we pray? Ultimately, we pray for God’s will to be done in our lives. If not, our will be done in our lives. And we don’t want our will to be done. After all King Solomon once said that “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” -- Proverbs 14:12
Specifically, to answer your question, “Why do we pray?” We pray to give Him permission to let His will be done in our lives. For God’s will to be done in our lives we have to give Him permission. God doesn’t force His will on us. That’s what Mary (Jesus’ mother) had to do when Angel Gabriel approached her to tell her that she shall conceive divinely. In Luke 1:38, "Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” If Mary had said “No,” or had not given God permission to let His will be done in her life, it wouldn’t have been done. And God would have found another virgin to get Jesus in the earth!
Also that’s what Jesus Himself had to do at Gethsemane when faced with death on the Cross, and being separated from the Father. He had to give the Father permission to let His will be done in His life.
In closing, let me say that I know this kind of topic (Praying in the Name of Jesus) generates more questions and answers than one may have time to address. However, I pray that this has been somewhat helpful to you in addressing some of your questions and concerns.
May you continue to grow in His nurture and admonition. Amen!