Ricky brought our breakfasts. Stan had his usual blueberry pancakes. I had some eggs and toast. Stan said, “Let’s thank the Lord for His provision.” And then he prayed.
As he finished praying and we began to eat, Stan said, “The other day, I was talking with a neighbor about the effectiveness of prayer.”
“Effectiveness of prayer?” I responded. “Oh, you mean about how the prayers of a righteous person can accomplish much that James wrote about?”
“Not so much that,” Stan replied. “More about praying in Jesus’ name.”
“Praying in Jesus’ name,” I repeated. “What about it?”
“About how just saying that we are praying in His name is probably not what God has in mind for our prayers.”
“How so?” I asked.
“Let me give you an example,” Stan replied. “It’s pretty common for people to end their prayers with something like, ‘I pray all of these things in the name of Jesus’.”
“Yeah,” I responded. “I do that. I’ve heard a lot of people do that. What about it?”
“Seems to me,” Stan replied, “that maybe that should come at the beginning, not the end.”
“At the beginning of our prayers, not the end? Why?”
“At least a couple of reasons,” he said. “First of all, I think it’s pretty much a given that we are to pray in accordance with God’s will so that His will is done.”
“Okay,” I replied. “Didn’t Jesus say that when He was teaching His disciples how to pray?”
“He did,” Stan said. “That the Father’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Continuing, he added, “And that leads to a second reason why to say at the beginning of my prayers that they are in the name of Jesus.”
“How can I pray in accordance with the Father’s will,” Stan replied, “unless I know what that looks like? Just because I say I’m praying in accordance with His will, or in the name of Jesus, doesn’t mean that I am. More often I pray in accordance with the will of someone else, usually me.”
“You pray according to your will, not necessarily in accordance with the will of the Father,” I said. “Is that it?”
“That’s it,” Stan replied. “And it seems to me that if, at the beginning of my prayers, I truly come before God praying in Jesus’s name and asking to be led to pray in accordance with His will, my prayers will be in accordance with God’s will, not mine.”
“And, thus, be more effective?” I said.
“More effective,” Stan replied, “at least in the sense of acknowledging my surrender to the will of the Father at the beginning of my prayers.”
Bible verses to consider:
Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name. John 16:23.
You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you. John 15:16.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you allow me to come before you in the name of Jesus. I ask you to lead my prayers so they are in accordance with your will. I confess that too often my prayers are centered on what I want without adequate thought given to whether my prayers are in accordance with your will. Please forgive that foolishness. Help me to always come before you with prayers that agree with your will, whatever that will may be. Thank you, Father, for showing me how to pray in your Son’s name. Amen.
Think on this: Have you accepted God’s free and gracious provision through the cross of Christ so you can come before the Father in the name of Jesus? If no, why? What is keeping you separated from God for all of eternity? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how is your prayer life? Do you seek God’s will for your prayers? Do you tend to pray and tell God things He already knows? Are your prayers self-focused without any real thought as to what God has for you to pray about? If you sense the need for any change in how you pray, how is that change going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?