The subject of prayer can be a broad topic for discussion. Due to such a lengthy biblical topic, these upcoming articles on Understanding Prayer will be divided into parts.
You can approach the subject of prayer in many different ways. I believe one of the most helpful ways to understand prayer is by understanding how it relates to the believer in Christ and to the teachings of Jesus in the Upper Room. During the Upper Room discourse, Jesus introduces to His disciples an entirely new concept and manner of praying.
The Upper Room Discourse
The Upper Room Discourse is unique in that it presents a new revelation to the believer and a dispensational feature discovered in prayer not seen anywhere in Scripture up until this particular point. Understanding this new reality of prayer is of utmost importance for every believer who desires to pray in the most advantageous way that the Savior made possible.
It should be noticeably evident how Christ prayed on earth (versus the way we pray as believers), involving a life of perfection, a life we obviously cannot obtain this side of heaven. This leads us to understand and embrace a very crucial truth about prayer. Let me briefly introduce that truth to you.
A New Relationship
The type of relationship that Jesus possesses with the Father, ultimately over time, became for His disciples (and is presently now for us as believers), the same basis that initiates our relationship with God the Father through Christ's atoning work. In other words, the work that Christ accomplished on the cross, is what forms the basis of our new relationship with God and directly changes how we pray today (in this age of grace) to God the Father. Let me clarify.
In the Upper Room discourse, we find Jesus instructing His disciples on a whole new way and ground of praying. No longer is the prayer simply defined as an appeal or a reminder to God concerning the past covenants of Israel, as did the Old Testament saints. Instead, after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, there is a new appeal and approach to God introduced by Jesus to the disciples. This new appeal and approach is revealed as praying in the NAME of Christ. This is indicated by the words of Jesus when He said, "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name" (John 16:24).
We cannot neglect to see the importance of this clear dispensational feature, especially, since it directly relates to our present standing with the Father. Notice, from the statement of Jesus we can learn at least two major truths regarding prayer.
First, we discover that all former appeals that were made up until this particular point (at the Upper Room Discourse) were appeals primarily addressed to Jehovah God and were based on the law or related to the promises of the future coming kingdom. These former types of prayers emphasized the covenant promises made between God and His people Israel. They involved prayers of remembrance and pleadings with God to fulfill all that He promised to Israel and their descendants.
In the Upper Room discourse, we find Jesus instructing His disciples on a whole new ground of praying. No longer is prayer simply defined as an appeal or a reminder to God concerning the past covenants of Israel, as did the Old Testament saints. Instead, after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, there is a new appeal and approach to God introduced by Jesus to the disciples, which is revealed as praying in the NAME of Christ. This newness of praying is indicated by the words of Jesus when He said, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name” (John 16:24).
Secondly, we learn by contrast, that a new approach to God is established by praying in the name of Christ. Through this new appeal, God the Father now hears us and our prayers, as though it were Christ Himself doing the praying and asking. In other words, when we pray today in the name of Christ, it is as if the very voice of Christ is praying and pleading with the Father, to which end becomes answered for Christ’s own honor and glory.
This new realization of our position in Christ should gladly excite every believer! The privileges and benefits this new appeal produces for every believer in Christ become infinitely immeasurable.
Therefore, we learn that an entirely new relationship was born on Pentecost, between the believer in Christ and God our Heavenly Father, as a result of the completed and accomplished work of Christ. Now, this newfound relationship for the believer permits a new approach to God, unlike any in the past, simply by praying in the name of Christ.
This new realization of our position in Christ should gladly excite every believer!
What are some of these privileges that the believer in Christ presently possesses and what does it mean to pray in Christ's name? We will discover what some of these amazing privileges are in our next article.