Tony Evans - Praying in Jesus' Name
It is normal for us to conclude our prayers with "In Jesus's name". And yet, for many of us, when we conclude our prayers that way, we just canceled out our request because it was forgery. It was an illegitimate use of His name. Yet it is the most important phrase in a prayer. When you conclude your prayer in Jesus's names, it determines whether you get what you ask for or whether you don't. Jesus makes an astounding statement. He says, "When you ask for anything in my name, you will receive it". Yet we all can testify that we've used the name and not got what we asked for.
Well, what I want us to look at today is whether we've been using it legally or illegally. Because the use of the name and its legitimacy or lack thereof will determine whether we get what we pray for if we pray at all. So, I want to look at three things. Because if you grab what I share with you today, you will see prayers answered like you've never seen them before. You'll see kingdom authority leave eternity and come into time, leave heaven and come down to earth, leave the infinite and join the finite because we will have made contact with eternity.
Now, the first thing we've got to answer is, what is this concept, what is this principle of in my name? What does that even mean? To understand that, we have to understand a little bit of theology here. God has already determined that what he does in history, on earth where you and I live, he will do by means of Jesus Christ. That's why 1 Timothy 2:5 says, "There is one mediator," one in-between person, "between God and man, and that is the man Christ Jesus". Hebrews chapter 7, verses 24 and 25 says that, "Jesus ever lives to be the intercession, interconnection point, between us and God".
The Bible says he mediates or brings to bear the promises of God, Hebrews chapter 8, verse 6. So, the Word of God, the ways of God are mediated or transferred by and through the person of Jesus Christ. When we talk about his name, we're not talking about his nomenclature alone. We're talking about the person who stands behind the name. So, when you talk about "in the name of Jesus", you need to know the Jesus whose name you just used. It can't just be the Word. It has to be the authorized use of the person whose name you just called.
In other words, just 'cause you authorize don't mean you can do your thing. I have authorized you to do my thing for my good on my behalf, so you best get my okay. If you go out there on your own, I'll find another power of attorney. What he was saying is, "I will give you authority as long as I'm authorizing how you're using it. Because the moment you use it in an unauthorized way, you lose my backing of the authorization I put on loan to you". When you pray the Father without the backing of the Son, you don't get the support of the Son in the request you made to the Father.
But now let me give you the good news. The good news is that God the Father never turns down God the Son. There's only one time when God the Father turned down God the Son, and that's when he bore our sins on the cross. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? If it's possible, let this cup pass from me". God turned down the Son because he was bearing our sin. That's the only time that has happened. That is the only time it ever could happen again. It can never happen again. God never turns down Jesus.
So, here's the deal. You want to make sure what you're praying for, Jesus is praying for. Because if what you're praying for is what Jesus is praying for, since the Father never turns down the Son, then what you are praying for that Jesus is praying for that the Father always accepts becomes an answered prayer for you. So, you've got to have a link between your prayer, his name, and the request you make to the Father. The question on the floor is not whether you're using the nomenclature, but whether you're using it in an authorized way. Because an unauthorized use of his name means a meaningless prayer request, because the Father loves the Son and responds to the Son. Then he responds to us, who's responded to the Son, who the Father responds to. So, he makes the statement that to use the name, you must use it in an authorized way.
Number two, what are the prerequisites for me being able to use the name legitimately and with kingdom authority so that I can get heaven to come down into my history and to blow my mind, to answer my prayers, to respond to my request? God demands total surrender. Romans chapter 14, verses 8 and 9 says Jesus lived and Jesus died to control all of your life. He demands total surrender. It is submission to his lordship. Or as Luke 6:46 says, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and don't do what I say"? Lord means you are now my master, I am now your servant and slave. It is the absence of lordship that keeps prayers unanswered. It is the absence of his comprehensive rule because God knows that we're going to pick and choose what we like, pick and choose what we want, so he doesn't have total control. He has some commitment sometime. And he wants absolute, complete surrender.
When you look at Colossians chapter 3, you find something very interesting. Beginning in verse 17, listen to these words. "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father". Let me read that again. "Whatever you do in word," what you say, "or deed," what you do 'cause we always saying or doing something. "Do all," not some, "in the name of the Lord Jesus". When you decide my whole life is owned by him.
Let me quote another verse. You won't like it, but I need to quote it. It's found in 1 Corinthians chapter 6, verses 19 and 20. Hold onto your seatbelt 'cause this will rock your world. He says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 and 20, "You are not your own. You've been bought with a price". You don't get to own you once you become a Christian. You don't get to own you. He says you are not your own. I bought and paid for you with my blood on the cross, so don't say what you gonna do when I say something different. You don't own you.
If you are willing to give up ownership of your life, now you can have access and kingdom authority in prayer. You can see God move. But he goes on and then he breaks it down. Just so you not thinking about church, verse 18, "Husbands, be the kind of husband I want you to be because I'm your Lord. Children, be the kind of child I want you to be," 'cause verse 20 says, "'cause I'm your Lord". He goes to 21, "Fathers, be the kind of father I want you to be 'cause I'm your Lord".
Then he goes to the workplace, he says, "Servants, when you go to work tomorrow, be the kind of worker I want you to be because I'm your Lord. Whatever you do," he says verse 23, "do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing from the Lord you will receive the reward of inheritance. It is Jesus Christ the Lord whom you serve". You don't serve the man. You work for the man, but you serve the Lord. You don't even get to go to work tomorrow morning without Jesus being Lord. He wants to own your home, your life, your money, your time, your efforts, your work. You mean he wants it all?
He wants total ownership if you want answered prayer, if you want to see heaven, if you want to see kingdom authority manifested in your life. Listen, the more you surrender, the more of heaven you'll see. You want to get close to him. That's why the Scripture talks about how much the Father loves the Son. They are so into each other that they never turn each other down 'cause they so into each other. He wants us to be into him like that. That's why 1 Corinthians 15, verse 7 says, "You abide in me, and my Word abide in you. Ask me whatever you want to and I will do it for you", 'cause we hang out together.
How does this work? It works like this. Whatever the Father thinks, the Son thinks exactly the same thing 'cause they always on the same page. Whatever the Father thinks that the Son thinks, the Holy Spirit thinks 'cause he's part of the triune God. So, they're always on the same page. The closer you get to the Lord, whatever the Father thinks, whatever the Son thinks, that the Spirit thinks, because he renews our mind, we think. So, we begin to think what the Spirit thinks. That's exactly what the Son thinks, that's exactly what the Father thinks.
Matthew 6:24, "No man can serve two masters". You can't have the Lord and anything as a final decision-maker. No, everybody has ideas. Only the Lord gets the final decision-maker to rule and overrule. Overrule your manhood, overrule your womanhood, overrule your marriage, overrule your singlehood, overrule your work, overrule your finances, overrule your activities, overrule your entertainment. He wants the whole kit and caboodle. That is, if you want to see heaven's authority on earth. It's not enough to believe in God. That's not good enough when it comes to having God move on earth. He moves on earth through his Son.
So, your belief in God and love of God and appreciation of God, that's nice, but it's not sufficient for intervention in history. That comes through Christ. If you want intervention in history, then Jesus Christ, you must be willing to be identified with him. People ought to know that you're a Christian, and you ought to be found guilty of all charges. You should not apologize for your faith. Other folk aren't apologizing for their stuff. You should not be apologizing that you are a follower of Jesus the Christ. To call on his name in the day of trouble means you have publicly confessed him before men.
Romans chapter 10, verses 9 and 10, he says, "If you confess with your mouth," that is open declaration that I'm a committed Christian, I belong to Jesus Christ, open declaration, not hidden, he says, "those who call on me, who have confessed," he says, "will be delivered. Whatever you ask in my name, that will I do so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it". In other words, anything that's gonna make me and my daddy look good, I'mma do. Glorify. If you gonna make me look good by your prayer request.
That's why I want to give you a secret, to give you a secret, this is a secret. When you go to God and you're fully surrendered and you go to him in the name of Jesus, don't tell nobody I told you this, but here's what I want you to do. I want you to tell God if he answers your request what he'll get out of it. 'Cause God loves to hear his glory on display. He loves to know he'll be glorified in the process, his name will be great.
1 John says this in chapter 5. John says in verse 13, "These things I've written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you might know," keep the word "know" in mind, "that you have eternal life". So, when you place faith alone in Christ alone, he gives you an inner confidence of your salvation, a conviction that you're his child. But now, notice what he says right after that, verse 14. "This is the confidence which we have before him". So, the word "confidence," the word "know". If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the request that we have asked from him.
Ooh, you see how many times I've said the word "know"? That is inner persuasion or confidence. Anybody been waiting for something for awhile? Okay, well, the first question is, are you praying in his name, okay? Are you surrendered, okay? But given that, when there is a gap of time between a legitimate prayer in Jesus's name, the knowing that he's going to answer, but the lapse in time between the answer, it is for one reason and one reason alone: preparation. Either God is preparing it for you, or he's preparing you for it, or he's preparing the two for each other. It is for preparation.
God will use whatever time is needed for the preparation to occur, for the request to be answered, and you to be qualified to receive the request when it comes. Now, that's the good news. The bad news is you can delay the time because you can delay the preparation. You can decide I'm not gonna be surrendered. You can decide I'm not going to obey. You can decide, and you can just spend that time on. So, God may have decided, "It's gonna take one year," and you may be at 25 years because he never got the surrender, so you never got the preparation, so he can never answer.
It should have taken Israel about a month, a month and a half to leave Egypt and get to the Promised Land. They walking around in circles for 40 years because they never accepted the preparation that the wilderness was designed to give. He says there is a knowing that occurs when we are in framework with God. It's powerful for, watch this, physical and spiritual healing. James chapter 5, verses 13 to 15, he says, "If you pray in the name of the Lord, the prayer will heal the sick, okay, and address the sin". Ooh, ooh. The prayer will heal the sick and address the sin.
Now, all sickness is not due to sin, but a lot of sickness is. He says the prayer of faith, he says in the name of the Lord, so he brings the name in, will heal the sick and it will deal with the sin. What God is saying is if I could ever get to the spiritual, we could do a lot better with the physical. See, most of our prayers, we want God to change stuff in the physical. Give me more money, give me better health, give me a new car, give me a new house, give me nice clothes, give me... no, we want God to do something in the physical.
And there's nothing wrong with that, but we often want him to do stuff in the physical without touching the spiritual. Don't touch my sin, but give me my blessing. Don't touch my rebellion, but give me my blessing. No, he doesn't mind changing the physical, but he wants to address the spiritual. And that brings in a monster authority. Kingdom authority, you want to know kingdom authority? Here's the monster. The name of Jesus gives you power over the devil because much of what we deal with has come from him, or through him, or by him.
In Luke chapter 10, verses 17 and 19, here he's having a conversation with his disciples, and he says, "You have authority over the devil in my name. You tread among the demons, you tread on top of the demons". Instead of the devil and the demons walking on you, you walking on them. Tread means to walk on. When's the last time you walked on the devil, just walked on him? "Oh devil, let me walk on you". Rather than him walking over you. He says, "I give you authority," he used the word "authority," "to tread on the devil and his demonic scorpions". Why? Because many of the issues we have are demonically exacerbated.
See, we think the problem in the divorce was our personalities. That wasn't the problem. The problem is the devil got ahold of your personalities. And when the demons got ahold of your personalities, your personalities got amped up. In chapter 19 of Acts, I love this. Verse 13 and 17, okay, Paul is casting out demons in Jesus's name. He just getting rid of demons in Jesus's name. The sick are being healed, the supernatural is occurring regularly in Jesus's name.
Well, some dudes see this and they say, "Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Paul using this name Jesus and stuff happening. Why don't we do that"? 'Cause they concluded there's magic in his name, there's some magical name here, Paul doing all this stuff in Jesus's name. So, they came to this demon-possessed person, the sons of Sceva. They came in Jesus's person and they use the name of Jesus. They do like Christians do, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. In the name of Jesus, Jesus". They went Jesus on him, just Jesus all over the place. Just, "Come out, demon". Then Acts 19 says the demon spoke up. Demon spoke up and the demon says, "Jesus we know, Paul we know. We don't know who you folks are".
And says the demon jumped out of the man and jumped onto the folk who was using the name of Jesus, stripped them of their clothes, and it says and they ran out naked. Why? Because when you don't know how to use the name and you still use the name, you just invite the devil to jump all over you and make things worse on you while you call on Jesus's name. So, Jesus's name is not a name to be played with, nor is it dice, is it magic you just throw out there, huh? This is a person behind the name. And if you don't know the person, submitted to the person, intimate with the person, following the person, yielding to the person, submitted to the person, don't expect the power. The power comes from a person.
When you get on your knees to pray, and you go to your heavenly Father and say, "Father, I want this, I need this. Help me over here, deliver me over there," God has a question, "Show me your ID. Upon what right and authority do you have right now to come to my throne, and to make this request, and to expect me to let you into my holy throne? Where is your ID"? And oh, if you understand the name of Jesus, you got an ID. Just like when it comes time to go to heaven and if Peter would say, "On what grounds should I let you into glory"? I hope you don't say, "My good works". I hope you don't say, "I was a member of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship". I hope you don't say, "I'm a nice person," 'cause that'll get you booted out of heaven.
There's only one thing that's gonna get you into glory, and that is I have somebody who died on the cross for my sins, who was my personal substitute, who I placed my eternal destiny in the hands of for the gift of eternal life. That's your ID for glory. But while you're on your way there and you go to God for answered prayer, and the Father says, "What's your ID"? all you got to do is tell him, "I come in the name of the Lord Jesus, who I've submitted my life to, who rules over my life, who controls my life, who I'm not ashamed to be identified with". Or as the words of the Apostle Paul says, "I'm not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes". Anybody want some power? Anybody want some victory? Anybody want some deliverance? Anybody want to see some heaven? Well, then give God the glory by giving Jesus the honor.
Our spiritual power is directly related to the level of our spiritual intimacy. We cannot experience the authority of God operating in, to, and through our lives if we have a long-distance relationship. You know, just like when we're driving a car and you get too far away from the signal, things get choppy, there's a lot of static on the line, and you don't pick up things clearly. When we get too far from God, what he wants to do, that exceedingly great power that he wants to demonstrate in our lives, we don't see it, we don't pick up the signal. There's a lot of static on the line. If you really want to experience God's power, increase your passionate pursuit of intimacy. Then you won't have to look for his power. His power will look at you.