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I work in a hospital, in the Emergency Department and on a Neurological Intensive Care Unit. I have had prayer with countless patients and their families in both locations. I have prayed during my military time for the life of a fellow service member.  I have prayed with my family about family members. In most cases, the answer to the prayer was no. God either silently allowed things to happen, or he actively stated his answer to our prayer with a negative result.

What do we do with the promises of Jesus, "If you ask anything in my name, I WILL do it"? 

The texts we want to look at are in the gospel of John. I decided to consider the New Testament phrase spoken by Jesus, "...in my name...". I believe that if we begin to understand what Jesus meant in context, we will be able to pray accordingly, and are assured of our answer. So, let's begin.

Joh 14:13  And whatsoever ye shall ask IN MY NAME, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Joh 14:14  If ye shall ask any thing IN MY NAME, I will do it.

Joh 14:26  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send IN MY NAME, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

 

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I would like to set the structure that I see here. While verses 13 and 14 are spaced some distance from verse 26, they are in the same chapter. Also, since I am focusing on the words, "in my name", I  believe the phrase connects the verses. Verse 14 the goal verse, or the main point. Verses 13 and 26 set the context for the assurance of verse 14. In theological studies we call this structuring a chiasm. 

Look at the texts. God the Father is mentioned as gaining glory from the Son, and God the Holy Ghost is mentioned as teaching us about the Son. Central between them is Jesus iron clad assurance that He will do whatever we as "in His name". 

What's in a name?  Biblically, names had meaning, and gave significance and/or description. Jacob means "heel grabber (supplanter)", while Israel means "he will rule as God". Moses means "drawing out of water". In the story of Ruth, Naomi and her husband leave their famine stricken land to save their sons, Mahlon (sickly), and Chilion (consumption). They died by verse 5 of chapter 1. 

Pillar 1 - God Glorified in the Son

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And whatsoever ye shall ask IN MY NAME, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Jesus' name in Hebrew is Jehoshua, God Saves, "...for he shall save his people from their sins." His name is also Emmanual, mean God with us. (Matthew 1:21-23) God being with us in Jesus is contingent upon God saving us in Jesus.

Sin is death, nonexistance. Living in this bubble called grace (see my Thanksgiving Blogost), we were all still doomed to 1) a life of perpetually enjoying sin, despising God and holiness, 2) returning to the formless void of nothing in Genesis Chapter 1, and 3) viewing God as some vindictive, demanding, arbitrarian authoritarian tyrant who created all things for His amusment, some for glory and some for destruction. 

In Christ, God is able to break through those and all other horrible views of Him, as well as give us a desire for hedonistic holiness (thank you John Piper).  

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This is done when God the Word became incarnate, being born and given to humanity. This was done when He walked among us, sharing our struggles. This was done when He multiplied the food twice, when He stopped the storm twice. This was done when He preached the sermon on the mount, on the shores of Galilee, in the temple and synagogues. This was done when he elevated Sabbath to a time to worship God by healing the social and physical wounds of the less fortunate. This was done when He healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out devils, gave sight to the blind, stopped bleeding. This was done when he hung out with people like Zaccheus, the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, Mary Magdalene, those thugs James and John, the terrorist Simon the Zealote (Cannanite), and the genocidal maniac, Paul the apostle.  

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I submit that the miracles Jesus did, the people He accepted into His circle, were in direct line with saving specific people either form their personal sins, someone else's sins, or would directly impact people believing in Him as Son of God and Savior. However, as Jesus did not deliver himself, nor was he delievered, from suffering into the good life, so also in this world of evil many times we are not delieverd from what is uncomfortable and inconvenient. This may be why it can be observed that everyone in Palestine didn't suddenly have the good life because of Jesus presence, and immediately following his ascension.  The good life is not what is promised, or demonstrated, or taught by Jesus.   

Mat 10:22  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Mat 24:9  Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 

Luk 21:17  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.

Joh 15:18  If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

Joh 15:20  Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

Joh 16:33  These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Joh 17:14  I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 

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We are assured by Jesus that connection with him will bring us hatred and persecution, suffering and death. When we stand in the hatred, suffering persecution, death, and still remain faithful to God, God is glorified in the eyes of others who need to see a relationship with God through Jesus and more glorious and satisfying than all the comforst and conveniences humans fight so hard to gain and maintain. Our hardships then become a living demonstration of the cross of Jesus for those watching our lives. Thus, praying against suffering, hatred, persecution, or death may actually praying against what Jesus taught, lived, and did, and may therefore be praying outside of his name. 

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Jesus understood this when He, in His humanity, prayed for the suffering cup of sin's penalty be removed from Him, He knew it was His purpose to die. His humanity cried out for some form of protection He knew in His heart could not come. So He allowed Himself the intergrity to ask of God what He wanted, acknolwedging that God's purspoe for His life was more important than His safety, comfort, or covenience. He prayed in according with His own name. 

By sending Jesus, and by Jesus dying on the cross for us, God's glory is revealed in the way that God actually is...Love. The ultimate glory of God is seen when one looks at the life, teachings and actions, death, resurrection and ascension, of Jesus. When we pray "in Jesus name" we are praying prayers in accordance with those things which point others to salvation, all our physical comforts, our life aside...like Jesus.

 

Pillar 2 - Holy Ghost Teaching of Christ

Joh 14:26  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send IN MY NAME, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

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 Praying in Jesus name is related to the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life. Thus, for me to actually pray in Jesus name is for me to pray in agreement with the Holy Ghost teaching me "...all things, and (bringing) all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you."

In order for me to pray in agreement with what Jesus taught, I must know and have read what Jesus taught and lived. It will not simply be downloaded into my mind for me to pray. I must be a student of Jesus life and teachings/sayings. 

This is what is meant by "remembrance".  The Holy Spirit will teach me all things, however this is not things in the mystical vacuum of meditation and silence. This is teaching is direct relationship to study of the scriptures. 

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Joh 5:39  Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

2Ti 3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2Pe 1:20-21  Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy (scripture) came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Joh 15:26  But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

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What we see is that the Scriptures testify of Jesus, because they are Divinely inspired. They are inspired by the Holy Spirit, who testifies of Jesus. The Holy Spirit's testimony of Jesus, his teaching about Jesus, are solidly built in and upon the scripture. Thus to pray in Jesus name based on the Holy Spirit teaching us all things and bringing all things to remeberance is to pray for things revealed about Jesus in scripture. 

 

The Assurance 

Joh 14:14  If ye shall ask any thing IN MY NAME, I will do it.

A prayer which brings glory to God in Jesus Christ, in his life, teachings, and actions (past and present) is a prayer that is assured of being answered. 

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A prayer which is led by the Holy Spirit's teaching of Jesus, as grounded in scripture is a prayer that is assured of being answered.

Any prayer that does not line up with these criterion, as we focus on John 14, has no guarantee of being answered affirmatively by God at all. 

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