09 Sep, 2022 Praying in the name of people (Why we do what we do – motivational thought)
Sometimes I pray to God in the name of all the people who don’t have faith in a loving God – instead of in the name of Jesus. Is that crazy, a theological sin, or even blasphemous?
To confess it, I really do sometimes do this – but it’s not a theological thing. It’s a heart thing. I’m listing those on who’s behalf I’m pleading with God in prayer – bringing them directly to him. They are the reason I’m praying to him!
Knowing why we do what we do is important
Why hasn’t Christ returned yet when he could stop all the evil and suffering we humans cause? 2 Peter 3:9 tells us it is because God is patient – ‘willing that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance’. Verse 15 simply says ‘The Lord’s patience means salvation’. This is the single reason this world is still here on its axis. God is working out a purpose – and salvation (people coming to know their Creator) is the centre of it!
It is right and proper that we mourn (feel depressed) sometimes. We’d not have the love of God in us if we didn’t!
I loved a thought from Martyn Iles (shared at the “Forum on the Family” the year) about the Be-attitudes. In Matthew 5:4 the second of these says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”. The mourning here isn’t only a mourning at the brokenness of the world, or the ‘lostness of the lost (E.g. Matthew 9:35f …heart filled with compassion…), but also a grief at the failure of those who could change things to do so (E.g. Luke 19:41-44 – Jesus wept over Jerusalem). There is much within our power we could do with God – if we could see it. Were we to think and act differently in various areas, we could have different results! If we have any clarity of vision – we should feel grieved!
…but what are to do with that burden?
For me personally, I feel I see easy things we could do as the Church in NZ (working in unison) that could make a real and needed difference. Identifying these areas, to bring in innovation to some, is actually (literally) the very purpose of our work!
The challenge is that I really do feel this. There is a continual grief for me, which comes from the gap I see between people’s needs – and what we are (and are not) doing as the Church, where I feel certain we could achieve far more, and easily so, if we had greater coherence in how we work together. I genuinely feel in my heart almost every week. It starts to come upon me as the weekend ends – meaning Sunday night is also a night for prayer. I also feel I deeply enough that I can’t really talk about it. If you know me – and this work, you’ll know that we rarely give ‘motivational talks’ about outreach. This is because I find doing so too upsetting – so I choose instead to trust the sincerity of faith in the hearts of God’s people, and just get on with doing some good work with them. (Their pastors can give the motivational talks instead!)
How are we to deal with these feelings and this grief healthily? It’s no different to any person living in a world that is in crisis – or even at war. We need to have a way of ‘releasing the burden’ – yet also without denying its reality, because that would also be emotionally dishonest and unhealthy.
For me, this is why we have weekly prayer meetings on Monday mornings. I knock on heaven’s doors for things that he (God) has not yet graced us to be capable of together – for whatever reason. We ‘knock on doors’ , asking for favour to see them opened where they are not, because we CHOOSE to believe that change is possible. We also choose to believe that numbers do not matter. Elijah stood alone – and God upheld and favoured his work. Change doesn’t therefore require a majority if God gets on your side! For me, these prayers lift the ‘mourning’ out of my heart and mind, enabling me to enter the new day and week with faith and hope to yet again try new things.
That last part is the key. The grief shouldn’t immobilise us. But it also should not be denied – because we might then live for things that are temporary, rather than what is most important. We need to channel it healthily – while seeing it for what it is. This is no small challenge, when the gravity of what is being discussed here is considered.
I’ve lived this way for 3 decades. The ‘burden’ or ‘grief’ cannot be denied – as that would be shortsighted. Yet it also cannot be carried, because it is too great.
Praying to God in the name of other people
Across the years I’ve naturally found myself praying to God ‘in the name of the 4.5m who do not yet know God’. This isn’t because there is any power in their name. Our authority is through Jesus alone. I do this instead because I’m representing those people to God. I am pleading their case, asking favour on their behalf. To put that differently, I’m ‘claiming’ them – saying “I don’t consider the status quo to be acceptable, so I am again choosing not to accept it! I’m asking for change – even if it’s change that hasn’t been seen before! Either you are the God of your Word – or not, and I’m choosing to believe you are!”
And I bring all this to God confidently and feel peace in doing so because I know and trust that he loves these people even more than I do!
- He is a heavenly Father who gives good gifts to his children (Matthew 7:11).
- We therefore approach his throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews4:16)
- …and then we step out to try something new, because we believe that we really don’t need to accept the status quo – because broad-reaching really is possible!
I hope this thought has been useful. I’ve shared personally only to highlight the reality of this topic for me. This is unavoidably a huge emotional challenge (and possibly it should be the GREATEST one in our lives too) – if we believe the Bible.
Let’s keep knocking on heaven’s doors together, looking to all that God can yet do!
Nothing is impossible to him – and he really does love people we pray for and serve even more than we do!
DAVE MANN. Dave is a networker and creative communicator with a vision to see an understanding of the Christian faith continuing and also being valued in the public square in Aotearoa-New Zealand. He has innovated numerous conversational resources for churches, and has coordinated various national nationwide multimedia Easter efforts purposed to open up conversations between church and non-church people about the Christian faith, with stories about the specifically Christian origins of many of our nation’s most treasured values intentionally included. Dave is the Producer of the ‘Chronicles of Paki’ illustrated NZ history series created for educational purposes, and the author of various other books and booklets including “Because we care”, “That Leaders might last” and “The Elephant in the Room”. Married to Heather, they have four boys and reside in Tauranga, New Zealand.