Many wise Christians counsel care when undertaking a self-examination of one’s spiritual life – the dual temptations of condemnation and flattery are too great; so it was with some trepidation that I recently examined my prayer life… not the frequency… not the consistency… not the conviction… but the results. It wasn’t pretty.
Perhaps too often, I have judged prayer by worldly standards, but if there is one thing that should never be judged by worldly standards it must surely be prayer because the audience of prayer should never be the world. How does God judge prayer? With due reverence, I think that He doesn’t judge prayer, rather he hears true prayer and does not hear false prayer.
…and whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)
…and the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? (Acts 19:15)
God has ordained that whatever we ask in his name, he will do it. Even the demons seem to know this. But what then does it mean to ask in his name? Earthly kings of old had signet rings that would attest the authority of its bearer. If a king gave his ring to someone, that person could perform actions “in the name” of the king. Today’s equivalent might be the credit card. If you give your credit card to someone they may purchase goods in your name. But if someone tries to use a forged signet ring or credit card, then the results are not so good. The rest of the story from Acts 19 says “Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.”
Our heavenly king has willingly agreed to loan us his signet ring – his credit card. In so doing; however, he has trusted us to use it for his will. At the last supper, Jesus explained to his disciples that he and the father were one, that he only did that which the father had willed. His prayers were effective, because he prayed the will of the father. Later that night, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ prayed to his father again. Christ wanted not to have to drink from the cup, but even more he desired that his father’s will be done. He prayed for God’s will… his prayer was answered.
When the efficacy of our prayers is in question… the question to ask is not whether we will win the God lottery, but rather if we are in God’s will and whether what we are asking for is God’s will. If not, we are not asking in his name and should not expect an answer. God desires that all of us join with his son and become one with him... to become his son so that he can give us his name, that we may ask in his name and that he will be glorified in us.