Follow Me: "Whatever You Ask in My Name"

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"Whatever You Ask in My Name"

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There is a story surrounding noted 20th-century conductor Bernard Reichel conducting a final rehearsal of George Frideric Handel’s beautiful and inspiring 1741 oratio Messiah.

When the soprano soloist came in with the refrain, “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (from Job 19:25 Job 19:25For I know that my redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day on the earth:
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), she sang with flawless technique, perfect breathing and clear enunciation. After completing her part, everyone looked at the conductor expecting to see his response of approval.

But with a motion from his baton for silence, he walked over to the soloist and said, almost sorrowfully, “My daughter, you do not know that your Redeemer truly lives, do you?” Embarrassed, she answered, “I think I do.” “Then sing it!” cried Reichel. “Tell it to me so that I’ll know you have experienced the joy and power of it!”

Then he motioned to the orchestra to begin, and she sang that profound truth with a fervor that testified of her personal belief and faith in her risen Lord. Those who listened wept, and the old master, eyes filled with tears, said to her, “You do know, for this time you have told me!”

Knowing the right password

How do you know that your redeemer lives and that you can communicate with Him?

Have you ever tried to access information from your computer or smartphone only to discover you’ve forgotten your password? You try various letter and number combinations only to be totally frustrated.

Many people trying to access God possess a common user name—it’s called Christian. But the user name alone isn’t going to grant the access needed to supply our spiritual needs! It’s that all-important second part that allows our prayerful communication to move into something greater than cyberspace—the spiritual realm of God’s heavenly throne room!

Just like the password hint on your computer, allow me to give a scriptural hint. You’ll find it in John 14:12-14 John 14:12-14 12 Truly, truly, I say to you, He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to my Father. 13 And whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
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, where Jesus said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”  

Are you still pondering over the hint? Let’s get to the point. Jesus tells us to pray in His name. The “password” is the phrase “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” That’s it!

But what should those four little words—“In Jesus’ name, Amen”—signify to those striving to access our Heavenly Father? Let’s gain the full picture of what Christ was directing His disciples to do so we can better understand and respond to His invitation to “Follow Me.”

Not a magic formula but authorized access

Let’s begin by understanding what Jesus wasn’t saying before we can understand what He was endorsing that grants access to our Heavenly Father’s love, power and wisdom.

“In Jesus’ name” isn’t a tagline at the end of prayers that has to be perfectly enunciated like some magical formula to awaken a slumbering deity. Simply reciting so many words and getting them just right doesn’t give our prayers extra power to catapult them to heaven.

Neither was Jesus saying that anything Christians ask in His name is automatically received like a withdrawal at a spiritual ATM. We don’t just punch in a code to have our needs list instantly met.

Words should—and do— have meaning! Jesus clearly stated, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34 Matthew 12:34O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
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). He’s not nearly as concerned with what’s on the external tip of our tongue as He is with the motivations lodged in our hearts.

In our Western societies we can lose the significance of a name. We think of spelling out a name, one letter at a time, rather than the biblical sense of a name that conveys the attributes of the individual (see Proverbs 22:1 Proverbs 22:1A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.
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).

It’s here in John 14:12-14 John 14:12-14 12 Truly, truly, I say to you, He that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to my Father. 13 And whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
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and John 16:23-26 John 16:23-26 23 And in that day you shall ask me nothing. Truly, truly, I say to you, Whatever you shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 24 Till now have you asked nothing in my name: ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full. 25 These things have I spoken to you in proverbs: but the time comes, when I shall no more speak to you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father. 26 At that day you shall ask in my name: and I say not to you, that I will pray the Father for you:
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that Jesus introduces a new relationship between God and those seeking Him. Here the access code was changed forever. Now we approach God not through the acts of a mortal high priest at certain places and times, but in the name of Jesus the Christ, who has been accepted as our mediating heavenly High Priest at the right hand of God the Father, continually making intercession for us (Hebrews 8:1-6 Hebrews 8:1-6 1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. 3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: why it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. 4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: 5 Who serve to the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, said he, that you make all things according to the pattern showed to you in the mount. 6 But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
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). 

Therefore, when we pray “in Jesus’ name,” we’re knocking on the door of God’s throne room by the authority of that name just like an officer might knock on a door and request that it be opened not because of his own power but “in the name of the law.”

The reason we’re told to pray “in” and by Jesus’ authority isn’t to register some secret access code to a heavenly mailman , but to assert before God Almighty that we come to Him through standing granted to us under Jesus’ direction and work on our behalf.

“Found in Him”

Scripture itself defines a proper biblical understanding on this matter. The apostle Paul uses the preposition “in” to emphasize the connectedness of the believer to Christ and His authority over our lives. This is demonstrated in Philippians 3:8-11 Philippians 3:8-11 8 Yes doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death; 11 If by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead.
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when Paul describes his surrendered life:

“I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him … that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

The apostle John further describes the surrendered life of the individual found in Christ when he writes: “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him” (1 John 3:23-24 1 John 3:23-24 23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24 And he that keeps his commandments dwells in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he stays in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.
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). 

The word “abides” here is translated from the Greek word meno which is also translated as “continue,” “dwell,” “endure” and “remain.” This is not talking about a passive relationship! 

Words and phrases such as “in,” “to be found,” or “abide” remind us that God expects that when we rise from our knees in prayer, we go forth to meet life as Christ did while here on the earth. Consider Colossians 3:17 Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
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in this regards: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Understand that whatever we ask in His name is not merely a pronouncement of specially enunciated words, but an ongoing acknowledgement to our Heavenly Father that every day we “get it.” It shows Him we understand that we have entered a personal and mutual transaction of giving ourselves away and seeking God’s Kingdom and His righteousness first (Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
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). 

We realize that God gave much to us (John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
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), and we give much back to God in approaching Him in the spiritual framework of being rid of our old sinful selves and letting Christ rule in our lives. As Paul wrote, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
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, King James Version).

Simply put: What we’re doing by embracing this password phrase is giving away our life and surrendering it to our Heavenly Father through the one name above all names (Ephesians 1:21 Ephesians 1:21Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
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) and acknowledging the one exclusive existence by which we can be saved—Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12 Acts 4:12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
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).

Understanding God’s “No”

Even as we access God’s heavenly presence and needed answers in such a framework of prayerful understanding of being “in Christ,” does it mean that we will receive our human desires? Let’s go a little deeper as to what it means to fully surround ourselves in the framework of Christ’s living example by understanding there will be times when we must be willing to accept “no” for an answer. But God’s “no” isn’t a “no” of rejection, but rather a “no, I have something better for you.”

Why? Consider these instructive thoughts from Rose Publishing’s Names of Jesus: “Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane before His crucifixion should teach us both about whose authority we are under and about accepting God’s better plan (Matthew 26:39 Matthew 26:39And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.
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; Mark 14:36 Mark 14:36And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what you will.
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; Luke 22:42 Luke 22:42Saying, Father, if you be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done.
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) …

“Christ’s Gethsemane prayer (‘Let this cup pass from me’), the only request He made that was denied, teaches us that there are some things we ask for—good as they may seem—that are simply not God’s best for us. Jesus knew it was the Father’s will that He should suffer on our behalf; many of our prayers may also fall into this category. But observe the powerful results: In Jesus’ case, as in ours, the ultimate outcome will be life out of death” (2006, p. 4).

Jesus declared the Father’s name

Jesus placed His entire human existence under the name and authority of God the Father. Listen to the words of His prayer before that final agonizing sacrifice for us: “O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:25-26 John 17:25-26 25 O righteous Father, the world has not known you: but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me. 26 And I have declared to them your name, and will declare it: that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
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).

Ultimately He declared the Father’s name not by what He said, but by what He did over the rest of that day in accepting God’s best even while with His last breath uttering, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit’” (Luke 23:46 Luke 23:46And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
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).

For some of us it’s time to move from simply knowing our user name of “Christian” to applying our personal spiritual password phrase every day of our lives, because we need so very much what our Heavenly Father provides through Jesus. As we seek to respond to Christ’s invitation of “Follow Me” in all things, let’s be fully aware that:

1. Keeping Christ’s personal example of sacrifice, obedience and acceptance before us allows us to be “in Him” and therefore gives our prayers focus.

2. Our Father above is actively glorified (John 14:13 John 14:13And whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
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) when we acknowledge what He is doing even now through His Son.

3. As we rise from our prayers to face the day, come what may, we fully believe these God-breathed words written by the apostle John: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13 1 John 5:13These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.
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).

So if you were to declare the words of Job in Handel’s Messiah, “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” would you truly mean it?