The Bible says that what ever we ask for in Jesus' name we will receive. So we all tend to end our prayers with "in Jesus' name we pray" or something like that. We ask for a new car and then add the magic words and expect God to give us a new car because after all, we prayed it in Jesus' name.
I don't think that's quite what He meant. I see it as asking for the same thing Jesus would ask for. We are here, before the throne of God because of what Christ did for us. Only by His work and in His name can we come. You know how people will say, "tell them I sent you" to get you an "in" someplace. That's what Jesus did. We are before the Father because of Him and representing Him.
If someone goes to Blockbuster and says, "I'm here on behalf of Kay Day and I want the worst porno horror flick you *&**&^))), *&^%$(* have in this *&%%$#$ store and I want it &&^^%$^&** now!" Then I'd say they've represented me falsely. You could say they've taken my name in vain. Which leads me off track a bit, but that's what I personally think the command against taking the LORD's name in vain is referring to. I think the Crusaders and Inquisitioners were guilty of this sin. I think any time we falsely represent Christ we are guilty of this sin.
Ok, back on the prayer track... So if asking in Jesus name means asking for the thing we think He would ask for, how do we know what He would ask for?
The Bible also says that whatever we pray for according to His will He will give us, so I think the two things are basically the same.
The way we know is first of all to be familiar with Jesus. Know His heart and learn what things He did pray for while on earth.
Know the Word of God. We know that we can pray for unity of all believers because Jesus prayed for that. We know that we can pray for marriages to be restored because God says He hates divorce and the Word says that men should love their wives and women should respect and submit to their husbands.
We can pray for people to be saved because the Bible says "it is His will that none should perish but that all should have eternal life."
We can pray for things He's promised and know that He will answer.
Does that make sense?
When it comes to things like healing - we have examples both ways in the Bible. God sometimes heals and sometimes doesn't (David's infant son and Paul' thorn, for example). So when I hear of someone who needs healing I always pray for them to be healed unless God directs me otherwise.
This is the other way we can know how to pray according to His will. Be tuned in to the Holy Spirit. I personally believe that all prayer is initiated by God. He first reveals to us what He wants us to pray for - what He has already determined to do, then we pray for that and then He accomplishes it.
Why bother, some may ask. If God is just going to do what He wants, why bother? Because it's all about relationship. It's all about God including us in His work. He doesn't need us --- He's God for goodness sake. But He blesses us with letting us have a part in what He is doing. And He wants the connection that pray provides. He speaks to us, we speak to Him, He answers, we thank Him, He blesses us, He speaks to us again, etc.
Once a friend of mine learned that her son-in-law was diagnosed with a type of ALS. I knew this man and his wife and I was very sorry to hear that. I prayed for them and I wanted more than anything for him to be healed. But every time I started to pray for his healing I felt a strong restraining, I guess I could call it, of the Holy Spirit, and I felt strongly led to pray instead for their strength and comfort and surrender instead. So I did. And God answered those prayers.
The same friend herself had cancer and I prayed for her healing and God answered that prayer. Right now I am praying for a blog friend to be healed of cancer, but it's looking as if God is going to heal her by taking her home instead. My faith will not be dashed. I trust Him to do what is right. Sometimes I feel that the Holy Spirit is directing me to pray a certain way, but it doesn't come to pass that way. That's ok. I am obedient in what I know and I trust God with what I don't know.
I'm sorry this post is so long... I'll try to keep tomorrow's post brief!
Love you all and I hope none of you are being flooded today!