Some possibly true positions on prayer
A note to the reader as I continue my series on prayer: I could be wrong. Shocking, I know. I’ve been pondering problems with prayer, praying for perspicacity, and putting my presumptions into posts, but my positions on prayer are purely personal and possibly imPrecise. 🙂
In other words, like I said . . . my beliefs about prayer could be incorrect. I shudder at the eternally-significant possibility that I may lead people astray. God’s Word is truth; my words are not necessarily.
So with that caveat in place, here are a few more of my non-binding thoughts on prayer.
In Jesus’ name
Jesus told his disciples that, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do.” Hence, the Christian practice of concluding every prayer with, “in Jesus’ name. Amen.” This implied requirement for a legit prayer has long bothered me as seeming to border on an incantation. As if “in Jesus’ name” is a magical phrase that empowers the prayer and makes it acceptable to God.
As I understand it, a deed done in someone’s name signifies the authorization of that someone by proxy. So a prayer in Jesus’ name is one that he would approve because it aligns with his character and will. Couldn’t we substitute that concept for “in my name”? “Whatever you ask as my representative that aligns with my character and will, this I will do.”
But as I noted last time regarding the connection between believing and receiving, all the verses I could find promising answers to prayers prayed in Jesus’ name were said by him to his disciples as he prepared them for his death and departure. And I believe it’s entirely plausible that his promise to do whatever they ask in his name was for those men specifically in their task to continue building his church as his representatives when he would no longer be physically with them.
Ask, seek, knock
In Luke 11 Jesus is teaching his disciples how to pray and he says: “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” This is understood by many Christians as a promise to receive whatever they pray for. But in the context it seems more likely that Jesus was merely encouraging them to pray, not giving them a blanket promise of results. He continued, “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” In other words, if you don’t ask you won’t receive, and how can you find if you don’t seek? If you go to a friend’s house would you just stand at the front door and expect it to open for you? No . . . you must signal with a knock your desire to enter.
Jesus’ point, I believe, is that God is ready, willing, and able to respond to our prayers but, though he knows what we need before we ask him, he wants us to ask.
I was planning to conclude my series on prayer with this post, but there’s another important factor affecting the outcome of our prayers I have yet to mention. For next time.