In today’s Bible study we are studying prayer with Clint Glitner. Clint is one of the ministers at the Sioux Falls Church of Christ.
Both new Christians and seasoned disciples struggle with prayer, but are often afraid to talk about this struggle. Few people are willing to say what the disciples of Jesus said, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Why do we struggle with prayer and how can we improve our prayer life?
Another important aspect of prayer for Christians is praying in the name of Jesus. But do we know what it means to pray in Jesus’ name? Should we think of the words, “In Jesus’ name, amen” like a postage stamp we put on a letter? Does saying these words ensure God hears our prayer? Or, on the other hand, does forgetting these words ensure God does not hear our prayer?
As always, the goal of this Bible study is to learn to love like Jesus.
Links and Resources:
- Video: Watch This Episode on YouTube
- Three Ways to Make Your Prayer Life More Biblical
- Website: Sioux Falls Church of Christ
Transcript (Credit: Beth Tabor)
Studying Prayer with Clint Giltner
WES: Welcome to the Radically Christian Bible Study podcast. I’m your host, Wes McAdams. Here, we have one goal: Learn to love like Jesus. I want to begin today by reading 1 John 5:13‑15, which says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that 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 requests that we have asked of him.”
Today on our podcast, I’m actually going to be visiting with Clint Giltner, the preacher for the Sioux Falls Church of Christ, about prayer. He’s actually interviewing me about prayer because that’s a study that they’re about to do at their congregation, and he graciously allowed us to use this video and this audio for our podcast. So I hope that you enjoy this discussion and Bible study about prayer, and I hope, as always, it helps us all to learn to love like Jesus.
CLINT: All right. Welcome to our podcast today on prayer, Wes. Thanks for joining us.
WES: Well, thanks for having me, Brother.
CLINT: It was great to meet you a few months ago when we had you up for a parenting workshop, and we’re in the midst of really getting ready for a month focused in on prayer, and I wanted you to be a part of that. And so when this podcast eventually drops, we’ll be, hopefully, right smack dab in the middle of that month, really hoping to encourage the congregation not only to be individually more prayerful, but as a congregation as a whole, that we are a body praying together, focused in on the things of God. And so we’re trying to provide some resources to everyone throughout that process, and podcasts are going to be one of those, and so I appreciate you joining to do this.
Kind of the focus for us today is on an article you wrote back in 2016, which is ‑‑ it feels like forever ago that that happened, so I don’t expect you to remember why you wrote the article because that was way back, but the article is entitled, “Three Ways to Make Your Prayer Life More Biblical.” And so I’ll just kind of ask this question to kick us off: Why is it that, even today when you talk to Christians, whether they’re new or old, young or mature, that prayer is still something that people want to talk about and they want to learn about and they would even say that they struggle with? Why do you think that is?
WES: That’s a good question. I think that there’s probably a lot of different reasons we struggle with it. I think that it’s interesting, sometimes newer Christians have a little bit better take than people that have been around for a long time in religious circles. I think sometimes those of us that grew up in Christian homes and we’ve just always prayed, we sort of take prayer for granted, and new Christians sometimes are the opposite, and they’re like, I don’t even know what to do. Where do I even begin? How do I pray? And, really, I think we ought to ‑‑ we could probably do to ‑‑ it would probably be helpful if we both learned from one another, that those that are timid about prayer, that they learn a little bit of boldness from those that have been doing it for a while, but also those of us that take it for granted and that just assume that we can approach the creator of the universe and talk to him about what’s on our mind and what’s on our heart, that really ought to give us pause. We ought to say, wait, are you serious? Really? I get to talk to God? Like I could just approach the creator of the universe and disclose my heart to him, and I can ask him for things and talk to him like I’m talking to my father? That’s allowed? You know, I can do that?
And so I think that sometimes those that are the most timid about prayer are maybe beginning to grasp and understand the absurdity, almost, that we would be allowed to approach God in prayer, and, I think, recapturing some of that ‑‑ there needs to be some boldness, and we’ll talk about that in a moment, but I think that we have to start with just the idea that when you read in scripture the people that encountered God, when God showed up and revealed himself in some way to the people in scripture, no one was ever like, hey, how you doing God? Good to see you. You know, let’s chat. They all fell on their face. They were like dead men. They were terrified because this is an amazing thing that we are invited into the throne room of God. And so if somebody feels a little timid about it and feels like I’m not really sure how to do this right, that’s probably a good thing.
CLINT: Yeah. And I think you kind of hit on something, I think, really valuable for us in regards to ‑‑ you know, scripture is supposed to be the thing that guides us in our understanding of prayer, and I think that’s what makes us feel sometimes ‑‑ I don’t know if “small” is the right word in thinking about prayer because it is this massive idea of we get to talk to the God of the universe. And then you read some of these prayers in scripture, and you think, wow, I’m not there. I’m not even close to that. I mean, my prayers don’t sound like that. They’re doing this and they’re praying that way in this situation, and I would have never been able to do that. And so when we think about it, I think there’s so much that makes us feel like either I don’t measure up, I’m not where I want to be, and I think most Christians, if you ask them is your prayer life where you want it, I don’t know that many would ever say, yes, it’s exactly where I want it. We all kind of feel this void, this ‑‑ a longing for something deeper because we know it’s something huge. It just doesn’t always seem to be that for us.
And so I love the way that you took the article ‑‑ because your whole focus was it’s how to make our prayer lives more biblical. So kind of take us that direction. When we start thinking about, I want to pray better, more, those kinds of things, why go to scripture first? Why is that kind of the go‑to for us?
WES: Well, that’s the beauty of it, is that we don’t have to learn to pray on our own. We are praying both ‑‑ even when we’re praying individually ‑‑ you mentioned earlier praying congregationally but also praying individually, but even when we are praying individually, we’re not actually praying just as individuals. We are entering into a communal conversation that’s been going on ‑‑ not only that’s going on all over the world right now, but also a conversation that’s been going on for thousands of years. We just get to be part of this crowd of people who is coming before God. That’s not to say that he doesn’t hear our individual prayers or see us as individuals because he certainly does, but we don’t have to learn to pray all on our own. I think that’s one reason we get so intimidated is because we think that we have to make up the right words and we have to learn how to say all of these things.
When we read prayers that are written down in scripture, I think we just ‑‑ we tend to really admire and pray impromptu prayers, where it’s just off the top of our head and we haven’t really thought about it and we haven’t really written it out. But the prayers that are written in scripture, I would assume that they were thought out over a long period of time, not just prayed impromptu, but that they were written out with lots of thought and, obviously, the Holy Spirit behind those prayers. And what the prayers in Scripture do is that they give us ‑‑ sort of like a train, they give us tracks to run on, and so we don’t have to make it all up as we go along. We can be guided by and taught by and learn from all of the people who have gone before us. And so Scripture has this wealth of not only information, but also the examples of our brothers and sisters who have prayed before us, and so we should all come to scripture as students and say, not only to Jesus, like his disciples did, “Rabbi, Teacher, teach us to pray,” but also to all of our brothers and sisters and say, “Teach us to pray, Paul.” “Teach us to pray, Hannah.” “Teach us to pray, Elijah.” “Teach us to pray,” and looking to all of these examples that we have and say, how did they pray, and even borrowing their words and praying the words of scripture back to God. Scripture is the place to begin because we’re joining our brothers and sisters and they’re teaching us and modeling for us how to pray.
CLINT: Yeah, and I think what ‑‑ what you made me think about is when you have a kid and you’re getting ready to leave the hospital, you’re being handed something, and you’re like, I have no idea what to do right now, and everybody will tell you, hey, there’s no guide, you know, there’s no rule book for this and just good luck. And it can feel that way sometimes, like you said earlier, with a new Christian, of ‑‑ I don’t know how to do any of ‑‑ I mean, how do you do this? What is it? And it’s like, well, God’s given us so much, and I think when we go that direction, it steers us into a place of ‑‑ I’m not coming up with what I think prayer is or what I think it should be or how I ought to pray, but it’s ‑‑ God’s kind of guiding me, and here are the things to be thinking about and doing, and so that biblical focus is such a huge thing for us when we can do that initially.
And that kind of leads us into the ‑‑ kind of the first point of your article, and that’s where we’re going to spend the rest of our time at, is this idea of praying in the name of Jesus. And so you had just said on there that we need to know what it really means to pray in Jesus’ name, and we’ll break that down more from scripture in a minute, but just what ‑‑ what makes that such a significant thing that ‑‑ when you said, you know, there are three things that we need to do to pray more biblically, why go that direction?
WES: Yeah. I think that we really don’t understand what a name implies in the ancient world. When someone said you were bearing somebody’s name or you were taking their name or you were using their name, even when God told Israel not to take his name in vain, it’s really not just about what they said, but about how they lived, that these were the name‑bearers of God. They were bearing the name of Yahweh in the world, and so God is telling them not to do that in vain. And that idea of a person’s name is their reputation, their identity. This is who they are. And so when you’re bearing somebody’s name, or using their name, or saying their name, or doing something in their name, you are coming with their identity, with their reputation, and you are representing them before whoever the audience is. And that’s not how I grew up thinking about saying a prayer in Jesus’ name.
WES: I think I said it in the article that I always thought of it as sort of a postage stamp you kind of put on the end and said, okay, you got to say these words in this way, “in Jesus’ name, amen,” and then that was the postage stamp and that made sure that it got to God. But nothing could be further from the truth. It’s so much bigger than that. It’s not just a ‑‑ it’s not a magical incantation.
WES: It’s not these magic words that we say. It’s not a formula. It is who we are, and it’s who Jesus is, and it is who he allows us to be when we approach the Father’s throne.
CLINT: Yeah. And when you think about this whole concept, it affects not just prayer, but you think about the Lord’s Supper, you think about our singing, you think about so many things that we do. Well, we think about worship, you know, mainly in those regards, but you think about those things, and so often what we run into is they’re formulaic or they become this thing that I just do and you don’t even think about it. And so, you know, we say, you know, “Dear God” or some version of that, we put all of our stuff in the middle, and then you slap on, at the end, “in Jesus’ name, amen,” and the first part and the last part, almost no thought is involved. You know, We don’t even think about it, and the same thing is true with our singing. We’re more concerned maybe with how it sounds versus the words we’re using and all those kinds of things.
And so when we come to this idea of praying in the name of Jesus, there’s something more there than we oftentimes realize. And like you said, the postage stamp ‑‑ and I think maybe you mentioned it in the article, as well, the great challenge for us sometimes is we pray, and we’re like, I think I fell asleep. Did I get that part in? If I didn’t get it in, you know, it’s like the postage stamp didn’t get on the letter and they’re going to reject, return‑to‑sender kind of thing.
And so, with that in mind, what I wanted to do is just kind of ask you, where do we get this from in the first place? Where does this develop? Because, obviously, we want to go to scripture, which we already talked about. We want to be in scripture. And if you go to almost any church in America and you listen to almost any prayer at any church in America, I would guess almost every time you’re going to hear some version of, “in Jesus’ name, amen,” so it’s not like some random group of people just came up with this off the cuff kind of thing. So where does this come from as we think about praying in Jesus’ name? And we’ll kind of build from there on the significance of this on our lives.
WES: Yeah. I mean, it goes back to what Jesus said, and I think that the key here is that we need to understand that praying in Jesus’ name shouldn’t be limited to saying those words. It’s so much bigger and broader than that, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing or that we should just eliminate that and say, oh, so you’re saying that I don’t actually have to say these words. It’s like, well, wait, just because you don’t have to say those words in that exact way doesn’t mean that it’s not a good practice. And so I think that one of the things that ‑‑ we tend to go from one extreme to the other. We tend to think, oh, well, these words don’t have to be said in this way, therefore, I should eliminate them; or they have to be said in this way every single time, and, therefore, we don’t think about the meaning of them. What would be best is if we said them and we thought about them.
WES: So I’m certainly not suggesting that we eliminate those words from our prayer, but just recognizing the significance. Jesus says ‑‑ John 14, he says, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” And he says similar things, John 15:16, “You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” So throughout, especially, the Gospel of John, that’s where a lot of this emphasis is. The emphasis that John makes about Jesus is that Jesus has come from the Father and is going back to the Father and that he’s going to reign as the incarnate Word over heaven and earth. And as the Lord, as the king of the universe, we, his disciples, his followers, are appointed, are deputized to be able to go to the Father in the name of the Son and he will hear us, he will give us an audience.
And, again, to go back to the beginning, if we really had that trepidation before God and we thought this is a big deal that I’m allowed to come before the throne of Almighty God, and Jesus says, yes, you are, if you come in my name. If you come in my name and you are my people and you approach the Father’s throne in my name ‑‑ not in your own name, not by your own reputation, not according to your own identity. Don’t wear your own name tag because your own name tag isn’t going to get you very far. But if you come in my name, because of who I am and because of what I’ve done, and you are deputized by me, then you can approach the Father’s throne and he will listen to you and he will answer your requests, so there’s the idea.
And Paul even says, in Colossians 3, that whatever we do should be done in the name of the Lord. And, again, that doesn’t mean that every time we, you know, have a podcast conversation or every time we say hello to a friend or whatever, we say, I’m doing this in the name of Jesus. It’s not about the words that we say. It’s about constantly recognizing that we are representatives of Jesus. We are bearing the name of King Jesus. We have ‑‑ I think the way I put it in the article is that we sort of have a backstage pass. We have a backstage pass to the throne room of God, and Jesus has allowed us to carry his name into God’s throne room, but he’s also allowed us to carry his name into the whole world, and everything we do should be done in the name of the Lord.
CLINT: Yeah. So you go to Colossians 3, like you mentioned there in verse 17, and that idea of doing it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, we can kind of pull that out and just kind of say, you know, that’s everything. But if you go to the first 16 verses, you know, he says, at the very beginning of that, you’ve been raised with Christ, and then he calls us to a new way of life. And so it all fits together of, well, how are you going to live? Well, you’re going to live as a new person. You’ve been raised with Jesus; therefore, do all things as you should for him, under his authority, under the name of Jesus. That fits together.
And when you think back to the passages in John, what it makes me think about is the situation that they’re in is, up to this point, you know, they’ve been in ministry with Jesus. They don’t have to ‑‑ you know, if they say, hey, we have a problem, they go to Jesus. I mean, he’s there to address the issue. And now Jesus is here with them in a time that they still don’t quite understand what’s going on, and he’s leaving, and you think about how detrimental that ‑‑ I mean, if I’m one of the apostles and he says, I’m leaving, I think that’s the worst thing imaginable because I’ve lost access to this power that’s been around me continuously. And yet what his whole point is, is that you’re not losing anything. In fact, he says, actually, you’re gaining quite a bit when he talks about the Spirit.
And in preparing for this, I was looking at verse 26 of chapter 14, and we see the same phrasing there. He says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,” and so the same idea is present. It’s not just related to how we pray, but even the fact that the Spirit was coming was because of Jesus. And so there’s this massive understanding that in the name of Jesus, for them, was you have access even though I’m going to be gone from you. And for us today, I think that’s so valuable that, you know, we don’t walk over to Jesus and say, “Hey Jesus, can you help me with this” in the way that they might have at that point, but we still have access to the Father to be able to ask him for the help that we need and those things that we need.
WES: Yeah. Well, and I think, also, that idea that you brought out about the Spirit, that the Spirit is coming in the name of Jesus, is that the Spirit is going to bring glory to Jesus. He’s going to represent Jesus well and bring him glory just as Jesus came in the name of his Father and brought glory to his Father. So if we are going to bear the name of Jesus and do everything in word and in deed in the name of the Lord Jesus, then we have to make sure that what we’re doing actually represents him well, and we have to ask, about everything that we’re doing, would this represent Jesus well? If I did this, can I really do this in the name of Jesus? And if the answer is ‑‑ if the question is about sin, obviously the answer is no. You can’t sin in the name of Jesus ‑‑ or at least that ought to appall us. But that also should affect the way that we pray, and we ought to think, when I pray for this, is this something Jesus would pray for? Do I know Jesus well enough to know what sorts of things would Jesus be praying about? Because as someone who’s praying in his name, I need to make sure that I’m representing him well and accurately before his Father and going to God asking for the sorts of things that Jesus would ask for.
It’s sort of like I have a cousin that works for a hotel chain, and we get a discount when we stay at that hotel. And so we’re sort of checking into that hotel in her name and we’re using her name to be able to stay at that hotel, and so I’m always a little more cautious with what my children do at the hotel when we’re staying under someone else’s name because we’re representing her, and I don’t want her to get in trouble with her superiors because we did something that she wouldn’t do. And so whether we’re talking or we’re doing or we’re praying, we have to make sure that this is something Jesus would do because we’re representing him.
CLINT: Yeah. One of the passages I came across in studying for this that people highlighted was James 4. And, you know, when you start off in James 4, James is essentially rebuking their prayers, and part of that is because they’re asking selfishly for their own pleasures. And so you say, well, how do ‑‑ what’s the overlap? Well, if Jesus ‑‑ if we’re praying in the name of Jesus, under His authority and under His will and all of that, how do you pray for your own selfish desires and expect those things to connect? It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work.
CLINT: So with that in mind, let me ask you a couple of other questions about this. So one passage that I saw highlighted here is 1 Timothy 2:5 that describes Jesus as our mediator, and that’s a whole ‘nother conversation, obviously, but in thinking about this idea of praying in the name of Jesus, and then you think about Jesus as mediator, how does some of that maybe overlap, or how does that maybe help us understand a little better about what’s actually happening in our prayers?
WES: Yeah. Yeah, I think, again, we’re sort of living in an interesting era in that we’ve had 2,000 years of Christian history that we’re all sort of living with, and living with a lot of assumptions, things like God’s love and compassion, and that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing that people in the world, even, that don’t consider themselves Christians or aren’t churchgoers, most people assume that God is loving and gracious and kind, and that’s wonderful. That would not have been the assumption in the ancient world. The ancient world did not believe that the gods ‑‑ you know, the multiple gods that they believed in were gracious and kind and merciful. And, certainly, even the Jewish people thought that God’s grace and mercy and love was for them as God’s people, but certainly not for the Gentile world. They’re going to get God’s wrath and God’s punishment because of their paganism and because of their rebellion against the Creator. And so we sort of have this just base assumption of God’s grace and mercy and love, and it’s true; God is gracious and merciful and loving, but we’ve forgotten that humanity needs a priest. Humanity needs someone to go to God on their behalf and make atonement for their sins. We are sinful, we are fallen, we are broken, and we need a high priest who will go to God on our behalf and make atonement for our sins, and that’s what Jesus has done and why we need to pray in his name, is because he is our mediator. He’s the one who has gone into the throne room of God and made it possible for us to enter in there so that we can experience God’s mercy and grace and love.
We just have this assumption that, well, God loves us so we should be able to experience his grace and mercy and love. And it’s like, yes, you should, but you only get that privilege because Jesus has mediated for you ‑‑ and not just what Jesus has done in the past. I love that Jesus ‑‑ or that Paul, rather, says this in the present, that Jesus is our mediator. He is presently, currently reigning, not just as king, but as high priest, and he is constantly making intercession for us so we are able to approach God’s throne with confidence, with boldness. We can call him our Abba, our Father, because Jesus is presently, currently reigning as our high priest and our mediator in order to make it possible for us to come into the throne room of God and talk to him like our dad.
CLINT: Yeah. And so you think about those ideas, and here we are as Christians. So we come to God through Jesus because of what Jesus has done, and we come in his name, and so that adds some weight to things. But then, at the very same time all of that’s happening, Jesus is actually involved in the process, as well. But it’s not just that we come to God because of what Jesus did, and Jesus has done his part and he’s off to the side somewhere else doing something else, or he’s gone, he’s dead, you know, he did something and so he gave us access, but now we’re coming to God in a different ‑‑ no. It’s we’re going because of what Jesus did and he’s actually helping us throughout that process as a mediator, which goes to your point from Hebrews 4 where you think about all those passages related to Jesus just being greater than everything of the past, and here he is as our high priest. He is allowing us to draw confidently before God. And so, you know, as we pray, and we pray in the name of Jesus, with Jesus as our mediator, speak a little bit more to that idea of that boldness and that confidence that ‑‑ how does that change the way that we pray?
WES: Yeah. And I want to say, too, that one of the concepts that’s really been helpful to me ‑‑ and it just kind of came to mind as we were talking about this, that we live in a culture ‑‑ because we’re ‑‑ we tend to be very individualistic, whereas the ancient world was more collectivist. And there’s a helpful book that I read called “Misreading Scripture Through Individualist Eyes,” and I think about some of the concepts in that book a lot, and one of the concepts is that we have a tendency in the modern Western world to want to eliminate the middleman. We don’t like having a middleman, and so we think, hey, if Wes and Clint can just come together and have a conversation, great, like go straight to Clint. But in a collectivist society, they think it would be better if you could involve a third party who could introduce Wes and Clint, and you could have this third party, and now you have a relationship not just between Wes and Clint, but Wes and Clint and this other person who is the mediator or the introducer.
And so we tend to think, oh, there must be ‑‑ God must really hate us if we really need a mediator that comes between, and it’s like, no, no, no. God loves relationship, and this triune God who is ‑‑ in himself, he is three persons, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. He loves relational unity. He loves this unity in diversity. And so God is three, and he has always been in harmony and unity with himself, and then he invites humanity into that relationship. And so we ought not to approach the Father and think, wow, it’s a good thing we have Jesus because, otherwise, you know, God would just hate our guts. It’s like, no, God loves you and that’s why he sent his son to mediate for you. And in bringing the three, the four, the multitude of us into his throne room together with Jesus as mediator ought to do nothing but bolster our confidence.
See, even the Hebrew writer ‑‑ you know, as you pointed out, he is saying don’t go back to the temple system. It’s really easy to think, oh, man, in the temple system we had like a sacrifice you could see. Like you could see the blood, you could see the sacrifice, and so you felt like you were being brought closer to God. And he says, no, actually, all those sacrifices were were just constant reminders that your relationship with God really hasn’t been fixed. There’s still a defiled conscience that hasn’t been fixed yet, but now, because of Jesus, he is the one perfect sacrifice, one for all time, and so you don’t need any more constant reminders of sin so now we can come into God’s throne room without any guilty conscience, recognizing that Jesus has made atonement for everything, and now we have been brought into perfect unity with him and so we really can say that he’s our Father. And then, in Romans, Paul says the Spirit is testifying with us, that when we say Abba, Father, the Spirit’s like, yeah, I know. Hard to believe that these Gentile sinners ‑‑ like this is true; he really is their Abba. And so he’s constantly testifying, and Jesus is interceding, and it is this beautiful relationship with the triune God into which we’ve been brought by the blood of Christ so that we can approach his throne with confidence.
CLINT: Yeah. I mean, when you think about all of that, I mean, there’s a weight to it and it’s heavy, and yet it’s amazing and it’s hard to get your mind around that’s what we have. And so when we come to God in prayer, there’s so much happening that ‑‑ it’s not just this really cool thing that we get to do, but this is something that God has created for us that’s truly amazing, that, without Him, we would never have at all. And so as we kind of bring all of this together and kind of put a bow on it, as we pray, and as our congregation, in particular, over the next month is thinking about prayer, as they end their prayers, as they think about this idea of praying in the name of Jesus, just give kind of maybe a summary, a big umbrella overview idea here of just what should they be thinking about that? I mean, what’s going on right there in their minds as we pray and we say, “in Jesus’ name,” and we don’t just say, “in Jesus’ name” and we try to fast forward through that part to get to the “amen” and move on? But just kind of, I guess, speak for just a second about what should be on our minds.
WES: Yeah. And I think it is helpful sometimes to break out of that rote repetition kind of a thing. If you feel like, hey, we’ve forgotten what it is that we’re praying, move it around a little bit. Maybe start with “in Jesus name.” I mean, there’s nothing wrong with starting your prayer saying, “Father, we come to you in the name of Jesus.” You can say it at the end, too, if you want to, if it makes you more comfortable, but kind of maybe move it around in your prayer or maybe just word it in a little bit different way, but even sometimes just slowing down. You used the phrase “fast forward.” Just slowing down and thinking in the name of Jesus, in the name of our Christ, our Lord, in the name of our mediator, in the name of ‑‑ maybe even add some of that to what we’re saying. So when we find that a phrase has become so rote that we’ve forgotten its meaning and significance, just pouring into it a little bit more and pulling it out a little bit more and breathing some new life into it can be really helpful, and just remembering all of those things.
And then I would also say, just kind of to tack on there, Romans 8 says that, you know, sometimes we don’t even know what to pray for. And I don’t think what he’s saying is that the Spirit ‑‑ that he interprets our articulated prayers. I think what he is saying is sometimes we can’t even articulate anything to God, and, in context, he’s saying sometimes all we can do is groan. You know, we’re just hurting. We don’t even know what to say, but the Spirit knows what to say, and he’s groaning with us, and the Father understands the Spirit’s groans. So sometimes just being present in prayer, even when you’re not saying anything, and you just say, Father, I don’t know what to say. All I can say is it hurts. All I can say is this is hard, and just be present and don’t fast‑forward through your prayers either individually or congregationally. Just be present in the prayer and understand that the Father and the Son are participating with you.
CLINT: Let me throw one more thing out, and then we’ll kind of wrap it up. You had something that you said earlier about when we pray in the name of Jesus we’re kind of lining ourselves up with his will, with what he wants, what his desires are. Just speak for a second ‑‑ I want to come back to that because I think it’s really impactful. How does that reshape the way that we pray? You have that statement on ‑‑ you know, we’re praying in the name of Jesus. How does that reshape the things I ask for, maybe the way I approach God? Just any thoughts on that?
WES: Yeah. Yeah, it requires ‑‑ it’s like the old question that ‑‑ we used to wear the bracelets “WWJD,” you know, “What would Jesus do?” We could ask what would Jesus pray. And in order to answer what would Jesus do, you have to know, what did Jesus do? What does Jesus do? How does Jesus think? And so the more we familiarize ourselves with the person of Jesus Christ, the more we know him, the more the Sermon on the Mount is written on our heart, then we will know what to pray for. But I think even ‑‑ I taught a lesson last night on the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is so helpful. Jesus teaches us what to pray for, and Christians, for 2,000 years, have prayed exactly word for word that prayer, and I think that’s a really helpful exercise, but even just trying to understand the different elements of that. “Our Father who’s in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Pray that our Father’s name is hallowed. Do we pray that? Do we pray, God, we want the world to know your name and to respect your name? We want your name to be treated as holy in all the earth. Pray for that. Pray for God’s kingdom to come in its fullness. Pray for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. So listen to the way Jesus prays and then pray like that.
CLINT: Yeah, it’s an awesome way to kind of wrap this up on this is really what we’re trying to be. We’re trying to be like Jesus, and we see how he prayed, what he was about. And, ultimately, when you think about like John’s words in 1 John when he talks about praying with confidence, and you can pray with confidence when you know what Jesus wants and you’re praying for what Jesus wants, and you can pray confidently that what Jesus wants is going to happen, that he’s going to work in the way that he has set out to do.
Wes, I really appreciate you taking some time to kind of walk us through this idea that is just so easy to tack on and move on from, and just really plant, for just a few minutes, on praying in the name of Jesus. And so I hope that for those in our congregation, and others that are able to watch this, that they are encouraged in their prayer life. There’s a depth there that we too oftentimes miss. And so, again, thanks very much, Wes, for sharing a few things about this with us.
WES: My pleasure. Thank you, Clint. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation.
Thank you so much for listening to the Radically Christian Bible study podcast. If you have just a moment, we would love for you to rate and review the podcast on iTunes, or wherever you’re listening. It really does help people find this content. I also want to thank the guests who join me each week; Travis Pauley, who edits this podcast; Beth Tabor, who often volunteers her time to transcribe it; and our whole McDermott Road church family, who make it possible for us to provide this Bible study for you. Now let’s go out and love like Jesus.