This past week the lesson for our church home group was about prayer. Part of the lesson was reading several selected Bible passages. While reading one of the passages I realized a bad habit I had fallen into. The passage was John 15:16 (NAS):
"You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you."
In context it's not the blank prayer-check it might seem to be. Anyway, what struck me was those "simple" words, "ask of the Father in My name". "In My name". I had fallen into the habit of letting that phrase be a formality, something appended automatically - and almost unthinkingly - in my prayers.
Well, Jesus didn't say that for the sake of hearing His own voice, nor to provide a verbal formula for ritual prayer! What does it mean to pray, "In My name"? Doing something in another person's name means to act as their agent, with their authority, as if you are that person for certain situations. "Somebody say 'Amen!,' or 'Oh my'!" More to the point, Ouch! In prayer, Jesus, the Creator of the universe, has given Christians permission to pray as His agent in this world, with His authority! Ouch! And, Wow! Jesus commanded us to pray for things we need and want, personally, but our focus should be on being His agent in this world (which includes things we need and sometimes what we want).When Christians pray, we are asking with authority Jesus gave us to act on His behalf. Praying, "In My name," isn't some obligatory magic formula to be appended ritualistically to our prayers. It's the basis for, the ultimate purpose of, our prayers! We should honor God by respecting and using, wisely, the authority He gave us in prayer. I should and will so honor God!