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‘Whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do. If ye shall ask me anything in my Name, that will I do. That whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my Name, He may give it you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If ye shall ask anything of the Father, He will give it you in my Name. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my Name: ask, and ye shall receive. In that day ye shall ask in my Name.’—John xiv. 13, 14, xv. 16, xvi. 23, 24, 26.
This week Dr. Murray invites us to examine further the meaning of praying in the name of Jesus. A name, he tells us is the expression by which a person is "called up or represented to us." Everything we know about that person, character, honor, power, reputation is held within the name of that person. "And so each name of God embodies and represents some part of the glory of the Unseen One. And the Name of Christ is the expression of all He has done and all He is and lives to do as our Mediator."
Murray outlines three ways that we use another's name: a legal union: When we are given permission to do an act in another person's name, we are being given that person's power and authority for the task. A merchant may temporarily empower his clerk to act in the interest of the business.
When the Lord Jesus went to heaven, He left His work, the management of His kingdom on earth, in the hands of His servants. He could not do otherwise than also give them His Name to draw all the supplies they needed for the due conduct of His business. And they have the spiritual power to avail themselves of the Name of Jesus just to the extent to which they yield themselves to live only for the interests and the work of the Master. The use of the Name always supposes the surrender of our interests to Him whom we represent.
There is also a life union: a child has the name of his father. This is a permanent inheritance of the name, but if the child only represents the father as much as he takes on the father's character.
The name and the character or spirit must be in harmony. When such is the case, the child will have a double claim on the father’s friends: the character secures and increases the love and esteem rendered first for the name’s sake. So it is with Jesus and the believer: we are one, we have one life, one Spirit with Him; for this reason we may come in His Name. Our power in using that Name, whether with God, or men, or devils depends on the measure of our spiritual life-union.
Thirdly, there is the union of love. A bride takes the name of her bridegroom, but with it comes the full partnership and inheritance of all the bridegroom owns.
And this is done because the bridegroom has chosen her for himself, counting on her to care for his interests: they are now one. And so the Heavenly Bridegroom could do nothing less; having loved us and made us one with Himself, what could He do but give those who bear His Name the right to present it before the Father, or to come with it to Himself for all they need. And there is no one who gives himself really to live in the Name of Jesus, who does not receive in ever-increasing measure the spiritual capacity to ask and receive in that Name what he will. The bearing of the name of another supposes my having given up my own, and with it my own independent life; but then, as surely, my possession of all there is in the name I have taken instead of my own.
As disciples, children and the bridegroom of Christ, we are privilege to all these uses of His name and subject to all these responsibilities.
We see thus that everything depends on our own relation to the Name: the power it has on my life is the power it will have in my prayers. [...] When we read, ‘We shall walk in the Name of our God,’ we see how the power of the Name must rule in the whole life; only then will it have power in prayer. It is not to the lips but to the life God looks to see what the Name is to us. When Scripture speaks of ‘men who have given their lives for the Name of the Lord Jesus,’ or of one ‘ready to die for the Name of the Lord Jesus,’ we see what our relation to the Name must be: when it is everything to me, it will obtain everything for me. If I let it have all I have, it will let me have all it has.
The most profound part of this chapter for me, comes next. The power of the name of Christ is inextricably bound up in our obedience, love and faith in Christ:
‘WHATSOEVER ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do.’ Jesus means the promise literally. Christians have sought to limit it: it looked too free; it was hardly safe to trust man so unconditionally. We did not understand that the word ‘in my Name’ is its own safeguard. It is a spiritual power which no one can use further than he obtains the capacity for, by his living and acting in that Name.
The power to wield the Name comes only in the same measure that we are surrendered to and motivated by the work of God Himself. Only when His own interests are our own interests will the name have any power to obtain. As the footnote explains:
"To pray in Christ’s name is therefore to be identified with Christ as to our righteousness, and to be identified with Christ in our desires by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. To pray in the Spirit, to pray according to the will of the Father, to pray in Christ’s name, are identical expressions. The Father Himself loveth us, and is willing to hear us: two intercessors, Christ the Advocate above, and the Holy Ghost, the Advocate within, are the gifts of His love."
Let us pray:
What can we pray today except to be made more worthy of Your name?
May we be faithful disciples, fully committed to the work of Your kingdom. May we labor diligently and faithfully with Your desires and interests our only goal.
May we be worthy children, bearing Your character as well as Your name. May others look at us and see the honor and dignity of the family Name.
May we be a faithful bride, joined with You in love and purpose, our selves given up for union with You.
Oh Lord, make us more like You. May we be fully surrendered to all Your desires and Your purposes.
This we pray, knowing it is the will of the Father.
In Jesus' Name,
Next week I'll be sharing my thoughts from Lesson Twenty-Five: ‘At That Day’ Or, The Holy Spirit and Prayer I hope you'll join us.
Previous entries in this series can be found here: Wednesday Prayer Series