Model Prayer – Jesus and His Disciples
Jesus often shared the importance of prayer with his disciples. We often think of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) as Jesus’ model prayer, but he shared much more about prayer with his disciples.
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete (John 16:24).
Jesus told the disciples, “Until now you have asked for nothing in my name.” It is not as though the disciples had not learned to pray before this. Jesus modeled prayer for them regularly and often taught them about prayer:
- Do not pray like the pagans with endless babbling (Matthew 6:7).
- Pray with persistence (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
- Pray the disciples’ prayer (the “Lord’s Prayer”) (Matthew 6:5-15).
- The Father knows your needs before you ask (Matthew 6:8).
- Watch and pray regarding temptation (Matthew 26:41).
- Go secretly into a private place to pray (Matthew 6:6).
- Pray believing that God hears us (Mark 11:24).
Model Prayer – Praying in the Name of Jesus
Curiously, before this Jesus had not suggested that the disciples pray in his name. The model prayer includes no such statement. But as they stood at the threshold of a whole new life era, Jesus instructed them to pray in his name—to ask the Father on behalf of the Son. When they walked out the door of the upper room—and especially when they walked out of another upper room about fifty days later on Pentecost—their world would be vastly different. They would have entered into a whole new realm of spiritual warfare. The evil one, whose heel had been bruised at the cross, would escalate the spiritual conflict as the church of Jesus Christ was established on Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told them in the upper room that a radical change was coming in regard to model prayer: “I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (John 16:23). Why will the Father give us what we ask in the name of Jesus? The answer is simple enough: he will do this if and when we are engaged in fulfilling the mission that Jesus gave us. If we return to an earlier moment in the evening, when Jesus was discussing the vine and branches, we will understand why: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (John 15:16–17).
Model Prayer – Go and Bear Fruit
The process by which the Father will give us what we ask is directly linked to our appointment to go and bear fruit. The Father will give us what we need in order to accomplish this primary task of bearing lasting fruit for the kingdom of God. He will answer prayers in Jesus’ name when we are fulfilling Jesus’ mission—to help complete the purchase of people for God from every language and tribe and people and nation.
That does not mean that we cannot or should not ask God for what we need personally for our own existence and well-being. Jesus told us that the Father cares about those needs as well. We are, after all, more valuable than the birds of air that he cares for, feeds, and clothes (Matthew 6:28-32). Paul instructed us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6–7). But as nontraditional or anti-traditional as it may sound, it appears that we do not need to ask the Father in Jesus’ name for the necessities of life. Of course, that is not to say we cannot or should not invoke the name of Jesus our High Priest at any time in our prayers, from giving thanks for a meal to the invocation at a high school graduation. But God has already promised separately to meet our needs—even apart from invoking Jesus’ name and authority. Jesus had been instructing his disciples to do just that all along.
Model Prayer – Fulfilling the Great Commission
So it would appear that a special promise was to be inaugurated in the very near future (with Jesus’ departure) for the disciples. In order to fulfill the mission—to bear lasting fruit, advance the kingdom, and complete the Great Commission—they were authorized to ask in Jesus’ name and have the assurance that the Father would answer those model prayers.
This is clearly a refinement of the established teaching that if we ask in Jesus’ name we can be certain that God will grant it. We have traditionally limited that promise by appending the words “according to his will.” However, we may be more in keeping with this instruction to instead add “in order to bear lasting fruit for the kingdom.” The use of Jesus’ name and the resulting promise of the Father to answer add a previously unknown or untapped dimension of model prayer: a special authority for the task of bearing fruit for God’s kingdom.
God bless you.