The All-Prevailing Plea
By Andrew Murray
“Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do.... If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it. …Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you. …Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive…. At that day ye shall ask in My name…” (John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24, 26).
In these parting words Jesus teaches His disciples and us that His name is our only, but also our all-sufficient, plea. The power of prayer and the answer depend on the right use of the name.
What is a person’s name? It is that word or expression in which the person is called up or represented to us. When I mention or hear a name, it calls up before me the whole man, what I know of him, and also the impression he has made on me. The name of a king includes his honor, his power, and his kingdom. His name is the symbol of his power. And so each name of God embodies and represents some part of the glory of the unseen One. The name of Christ is the expression of all He has done and all He is and lives to do as our Mediator.
What is it to do a thing in the name of another? It is to come with the power and authority of that other, as his representative and substitute. We know how such a use of another’s name always supposes a community of interest. No one would give another the free use of his name without first being assured that his honor and interest were as safe with that other as with himself.
What is it when Jesus gives us power over His name, the free use of it, with the assurance that whatever we ask in it will be given to us? The ordinary comparison of one person giving another, on some special occasion, the liberty to ask something in his name, comes altogether short here. Jesus solemnly gives to all His disciples a general and unlimited power of the free use of His name at all times for all they desire. He could not do this if He did not know that He could trust us with His interests, that His honor would be safe in our hands.
The free use of the name of another is always the token of great confidence, of close union. He who gives his name to another stands aside to let that other act for him. He who takes the name of another gives up his own as of no value. When I go in the name of another, I deny myself. I take not only his name, but himself and what he is instead of myself and what I am.
Such a use of the name of a person may be in virtue of a legal union. A merchant leaving his home and business gives his chief clerk a general power by which he can draw thousands of pounds in the merchant’s name. The clerk does this not for himself but only in the interests of the business. It is because the merchant knows and trusts him as wholly devoted to his interests and business that he dares put his name and property at the command of the other.
When the Lord Jesus went to heaven, He left His work, the management of His kingdom on earth, in the hands of His servants. He could not do otherwise than also give them His name to draw all the supplies they needed for the due conduct of His business. They have the spiritual power to avail themselves of the name of Jesus just to the extent to which they yield themselves to live only for the interests and the work of the Master. The use of the name always supposes the surrender of our interests to Him whom we represent.
Such a use of the name may be in virtue of a life union. In the case of the merchant and his clerk, the union is temporary. But we know how oneness of life on earth gives oneness of name. A child has the father’s name because he has his life. Often the child of a good father has been honored or helped by others for the sake of the name he bore. But this would not last long if it were found that it was only a name, and that the father’s character was wanting. The name and the character or spirit must be in harmony. When such is the case, the child will have a double claim on the father’s friends. The character secures and increases the love and esteem rendered first for the name’s sake.
So it is with Jesus and the believer. We are one. We have one life, one Spirit with Him. For this reason we may come in His name. Our power in using the name, whether with God, men or devils, depends on the measure of our spiritual life-union. The use of the name rests on the unity of life. The name and the Spirit of Jesus are one.
The union that empowers with the use of the name may be the union of love. When a bride whose life has been one of poverty becomes united to the bridegroom, she gives up her own name to be called by his, and now has the full right to use it. She purchases in his name, and that name is not refused. This is done because the bridegroom has chosen her for himself, counting on her to care for his interests. They are now one.
The heavenly Bridegroom could do no less. Having loved us and made us one with Himself, what could He do but give those who bear His name the right to present it before the Father, or to come with it to Himself for all they need. There is no one who gives himself really to live in the name of Jesus who does not receive in ever-increasing measure the spiritual capacity to ask and receive in that name what he will. The bearing of the name of another supposes my having given up my own and with it my own independent life, but then, as surely, my possession of all there is in the name I have taken instead of my own.
Our Own Relation to the Name
Such illustrations show us how defective the common view is of a messenger sent to ask in the name of another or a guilty one appealing to the name of a surety. No, Jesus Himself is with the Father; it is not an absent one in whose name we come. Even when we pray to Jesus Himself, it must be in His name. The name represents the person. To ask in the name is to ask in the full union of interest and life and love with Himself, as one who lives in and for Him. Let the name of Jesus only have undivided supremacy in my heart and life and my faith will grow to the assurance that what I ask in that name cannot be refused. The name and the power of asking go together. When the name of Jesus has become the power that rules my life, its power in prayer with God will be seen too.
We see thus that everything depends on our own relation to the name. The power it has on my life is the power it will have in my prayers. There is more than one expression in Scripture which can make this clear to us. When it says, “Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17), we see how this is the counter part of the other – “Ask all.” To do all and ask all in His name go together.
When we read, “We will walk in the name of the Lord our God” (Mic. 4:5), we see how the power of the name must rule in the whole life. Only then will it have power in prayer. It is not to the lips but to the life God looks to see what the name is to us. When Scripture speaks of “men who have given their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus,” or of one “ready to die for the name of the Lord Jesus,” we see what our relation to the name must be (Acts 15:26; 21:13). When it is everything to me, it will obtain everything for me. If I let it have all I have, it will let me have all it has.
“Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do.” Jesus means the promise literally. Christians have sought to limit it because it looked too free. It was hardly safe to trust man so unconditionally. We did not understand that “in My name” is its own safeguard. It is a spiritual power which no one can use further than he obtains the capacity by his living and acting in that name. As we bear that name before men, we have power to use it before God.
Oh, let us plead for God’s Holy Spirit to show us what the name means, and what the right use of it is. It is through the Spirit that the name, which is above every name in heaven, will take the place of supremacy in our heart and life too.
Let each disciple of Jesus seek to avail himself of the rights of his royal priesthood, and use the power placed at his disposal for his circle and his work. Let Christians awake and hear the message. Your prayer can obtain what otherwise would be withheld, can accomplish what otherwise would remain undone. Oh awake, and use the name of Jesus to open the treasures of heaven for this perishing world. Learn as the servants of the King to use His name. “Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do.”