Last week we finished the Lord's prayer with asking that God keep us from situations of evil where we may be tempted to sin. Then we had a brief discussion why some translations have “for Thing is the kingdom the power and the glory forever Amen”, and others do not. Notice anything else that this prayer doesn't have? It doesn't have in Jesus name we pray. Why not?
John 14:13-14 (NLT)13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!
Christians have been taught that we are always to end our prayers in Jesus’ name. We have been taught so well that it often becomes ritual with no meaning other than it’s what we have always been taught. It’s almost to the point of believing that if we don’t end the prayer in Jesus’ name that God won’t hear or answer.
Some think that saying “in Jesus’ name” at the end of a prayer results in God’s always granting what is asked for. That’s like treating the words “in Jesus’ name” as a magic formula.
If it is absolutely essential we must say something like “in the name of Jesus” in order for God hear and answer prayer how do we explain all the answered prayer in the Old Testament?
Jesus never taught his disciples to say “in Jesus’ name” or “in My name” at the end of their prayers, and none of the prayers in the New Testament end “in Jesus name” or “in the name of Jesus”.
Acts 7:59-60 (NLT)59 As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.
Philippians 1:9-11 (NLT)9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
We often pray ourselves without ending with “in Jesus name”. What about the times we pray “Lord have mercy” or “thank you Lord” or just “Help”?
I have two questions;
- What does it mean to pray Jesus’ name?
- If I don’t say in Jesus’ name at the end of my prayer does it mean that God won’t answer?
What does it mean to pray in Jesus' name?
Praying in Jesus’ name literally means praying with in the authority He has given us. He has given us the authority to ask the Father to act on our prayers because we come in His name.
Think of it this way. Jesus’ name is a key, and if you have the key I doesn’t matter if the key belongs to you or not as long as you have it you can open the lock. The power belongs to Jesus but he has given you His key.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Saying “in Jesus’ name” at the end of a prayer is not a magic formula. If what we ask for or say in prayer is not for God’s glory and according to His will, saying “in Jesus’ name” is meaningless. The words “in the name of Jesus” are more than just a signal that the prayer is over. To pray in Jesus’ name means to ask in His merit not ours.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT)21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
When Jesus told us to pray in his name, he wasn’t talking about the words with which we end our prayers.
Matthew 6:14-15 ESV For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Here Jesus goes again talking about this forgiveness thing. We talked about it a lot last week but let's look at it again because Jesus does. Remember this has nothing to do with salvation because we don't have to forgive anybody for God to forgive us. He forgives us just because He loves us. We have to accept that forgiveness God won't force it on us.
Joel 2:32 ESV And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.
Romans 10:9-13 ESV because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Jesus compared our sins to debts. We have violated our obligation of being obedient to God, and this exposes us to the penalty that results from that violation. To teach us the lesson of forgiveness, God bases how He forgives us by the forgiveness we extend to others!
Those who come before Him unwilling to forgive others cannot expect God to show them the love and mercy they desire. God will not show them the mercy and love they will not extend to others! If we forgive others when they injure us, our Father will forgive us.
How are we to conduct ourselves in forgiving others? We must forgive, even if the offender does not ask to be forgiven. We should treat the one who has injured or offended us with kindness, not harboring any grudge or speaking of that individual condemningly. We should always be ready to do him good if the opportunity arises. This is a tall order!
Why act this way when it goes so strongly against human nature? First, it produces peace. Second, it sets the example for the offending individual—and for everyone else—of what God considers right and proper.
Does forgiveness of a person fighting a recurring problem mean that we should place complete trust in him in the area of his problem? With many problems—poor money handling, gossip, lying, stealing, and sexual sins, to name a few—we need to see a track record of overcoming before considering him trustworthy, but we can still be understanding, forgiving, and encouraging.
Matthew 6:16-18 ESV "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Some people are so concerned with themselves that even in their worship of God they seek to draw attention to themselves Our motivation in doing righteous acts should be pure, so that God receives the glory for our good works
Matthew 5:15 ESV Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
The motivation for any spiritual activity should be prompted by our relationship with God. He should be central in our minds as we go about our service to Him.
In Bible times, fasting was acceptable to God when it was done with the right motive. But when it was done for the wrong reasons, it brought God’s disfavor. However, the Bible neither commands nor forbids fasting for people today.
Under what circumstances did some in the Bible fast?
When seeking help and guidance from God.
The people journeying to Jerusalem fasted to show their sincerity in asking for God’s help.
Ezra 8:21-23 ESV Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, "The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him." So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.
Paul and Barnabas at times chose to fast when appointing congregation elders.
Acts 14:23 ESV And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
When focusing on God’s purpose.
After his baptism, Jesus fasted for 40 days to prepare himself to do God’s will during his coming ministry.
Luke 4:1-2 ESV And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.
When demonstrating repentance over past sins.
Joel 2:12-15 ESV "Yet even now," declares the Lord , "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments." Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly;
To impress others.
Jesus taught that religious fasting should be a personal and private matter between an individual and God. We just read about that
To prove oneself righteous.
Fasting does not make a person morally or spiritually superior.
Luke 18:9-14 ESV He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
To try to compensate for a deliberate practice of sin.
Isaiah wrote that the nation of Israel fasted and nothing came of it so they asked God why?
Isaiah 58:3-4 ESV 'Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?' Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.
God accepted only fasts that were accompanied by obedience and by heartfelt repentance for any sins committed.
To carry out a religious formality.
Isaiah 58:5-7 ESV Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord ? "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
In this respect, God is like a parent who is displeased when his children express love for him merely out of obligation, not from the heart.
Matthew 6:19-21 ESV "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
In the previous verses Jesus was teaching that our spiritual activities should be done with the thought of pleasing God.
In the rest of Chapter 6 Jesus teaches that our physical activities should also be done with God uppermost in our minds. The "treasure" Jesus refers to here isn't necessarily money. An earthly treasure can be a career, a home, a car, or anything that hinders our walk with God. Jesus wants us to realize that material things are of transitory value while spiritual things are of eternal value. Therefore, we should esteem spiritual things above everything else
1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
It is so difficult to know our own hearts
Jeremiah 17:9-10 ESV The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? "I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds."
Psalms 139:23-24 ESV Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
If we examine our treasures, we'll find out whether our hearts are in spiritual things or in earthly things. How do we lay up treasures in heaven?
We should use what God has entrusted to us and the places He puts us in for spiritual enrichment rather than for temporal gain. We're not to put our trust and security in our earthly possessions, for they're so easily lost. Instead, we're to trust God to provide for all our needs while we devote ourselves to the things of the world where we'll spend eternity.
Matthew 6:11 ESV Give us this day our daily bread,
Matthew 6:22-23 ESV "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
Our eyes are the window panes of our bodies. If the glass through which we look is clean, then we see the world as it is. If the glass is distorted or dirty, then our view of the world will be distorted.
Matthew 6:22-23 KJV The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
Charles Sturgeon a famous English theologian.
The motive is the eye of the soul, and if it be clear, the whole character will be right; but if it be polluted, our whole being will become defiled. The eye of the understanding may also be here understood: if a man does not see things in a right light, he may live in sin and yet fancy that he is doing his duty. A man should live up to his light; but if that light is itself darkness, what a mistake his whole course will be! If our religion leads us to sin, it is worse than irreligion. If our faith is presumption, our zeal selfishness, our prayer formality, our hope a delusion, our experience infatuation, the darkness is so great that even our Lord holds up his hands in astonishment and says — “How great is that darkness! “ Oh, for a single eye to God’s glory, a sincere consecration unto the Lord This alone can fill my soul with light.
Matthew 6:24 ESV "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
A slave had no rights and couldn't own anything. He had no time of his own, for he was always on call for his master. His master could work him 20 hours a day or have the slave beaten if he chose to. We cannot be a slave to God and be devoted to material things. There isn't enough time to serve both.