2 September 2017John 16:25-33
“On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” (v. 26)
Psalm: Psalm 75:1-7
It is a commonplace in Christian prayer to offer petition or supplication 'in the name of' Jesus. It's so much a part of the fabric of Christian prayer and devotion that it may be less common to pause and reflect on what's implied in that phrase. It might be easy to assume that a prayer 'in Jesus' name' places Jesus in the role of mediator or broker, or a figure of authority, between God and the one who prays: as though a prayer has more chance of being heard because of the relationship between Jesus and the one who prays.
Jesus' words in verse 26 seem to challenge that understanding: "I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf". To pray, to ask something of God, in Jesus' name isn't to expect that Jesus will then relay that on our behalf because of being in a relationship with God that is qualitatively different.
Jesus seems to be explicitly rejecting a linear relationship from the believer to him and so to the Father: standingbetweenthe believer and God. It may be that we can read this passage less as an exposition of the mechanics of prayer, and more as an exploration of the kind of relationship with God that Jesus makes possible for humanity, one that involves being drawn by the Spirit into the relationship of overflowing love between the Father and the Son as our lives become increasingly identified with Jesus' life.
To invoke the name of Jesus may be more about seeking increasingly to stand where Jesus stands, in his utter openness and responsiveness to God. And because of that, to be drawn to stand where Jesus stands in our world.
- What difference does it make to you to pray 'in the name of' Jesus?
- What do the Gospels tell us about where and with whom Jesus 'stands' in the world? And what might this mean for his Church?