Thursday, May 10, 2007

Abracadabra, Hocus Pocus, Jesus!

It’s a bad habit of mine to pause on late-night television evangelists while channel surfing. It’s like a car crash, you don’t want to look, yet your eyes are helplessly glued. As comb-over charlatans reduce the power of God to a rabbit they can yank out of their hats at will and turn it back off the moment cameras stop filming, I can’t help but cringe. One preacher, in particular, “testified” about how praying in the name of Jesus got him a BMW (donated by some poor sap viewing his prophesy that he’d receive the luxury-mobile). A sea of heaven-raised hands and muffled “hallelujahs” erupted from the crowd.

This man encouraged the packed auditorium to revamp their prayer lists with luxury cars, mansions, or any other over-the-top extravagant desires and demand it with “all authority” in the name of Jesus. After all, the Bible does say whatever one prays in Christ’s name will be granted. It’s the typical gospel of prosperity propaganda, “if you really had the faith, you’d be rich, successful, etc. etc."

As I watch these sort of spiritual three-ring circuses, I realize I am guilty of treating Jesus’ name like a magic word tagged on to the end of my prayers, too. I’ve never prayed for a BMW or for a canvas bag with a money sign on the front to fall from the heavens, but there have been times when I fervently prayed for things, events, circumstances, and situations, fully believing it would come to pass because I sincerely prayed in Jesus’ name. The disappointments that followed lead me to sweep Jesus’ promise of “whatever is asked in My Name, that I will do” far beneath the carpet of my mind and heart for a long time.

Praying in Jesus’ name was always a bit of a conundrum for me. I would ask things like, “So, if I pray for someone’s demise in Jesus’ name, God would honor that?” There are endless scenarios of evil or just plain ridiculous requests with Jesus’ name tagged at the end of it that we all know God is not going to grant or honor. So, why does Jesus say:

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it”? (John 14:13-14).

It wasn’t until recently that I broke out of my 21st century concept of the meaning of the word “name.” To me, a name is just a title assigned to a person, place, or thing to more easily identify them. Back in “biblical times,” names actually had meaning, more than meaning, they were suppose to reflect someone’s character. The name “Jesus” isn’t powerful because of the arrangement of letters or the sound of it when spoken. It is powerful because of what it means. Praying in Jesus’ name has more to do with the prayer itself, as oppose to tagging the name of Jesus to the end it. Praying in Jesus’ name is praying in His character, praying in His Spirit.

When I started weighing my prayers by this criteria, I realized that many of my prayers, though well-intentioned, did not always align with the character of Jesus. While I'd always ended with “In Jesus Name I Pray,” my prayers were really “In Tia’s name I pray,” because they centered around what I thought was best from my very limited perspective.

I had to start asking myself, “Is what I am asking of God in Jesus’ character? Am I asking for my will or His Will? Is it in the spirit of sacrifice, kindness, growth, love, humility, generousity, and benefit for the least, lost, and last? Or is this about quick fixes, short-sighted solutions, or what I deem is best for me/others as oppose to what is actually best for me/others?" Don't we believe that God foresees the future and knows what is best? How our request, if granted, will turn out? Doesn't He know the affect it will have on our hearts, our relationships, our faith? Don't all these factors suggest that waltzing up to God with our specific set of spiritual demands is a bit foolish?

There will always be greedy showmen contriving grandiose spectacles to exploit the concept of faith and manipulating Jesus’ Name to satisfy their lust for riches, fame, and power. And while the “showiness” of it all can be alluring, we need to shape our prayers in accordance to the less attention-grabbing submissive faith that mirrors the character of Jesus, in the spirit of humility, sacrifice, servant hood, and kindness (I'll let you know when I get there!). The illusion of Jesus as our own personal Genie is a tempting one, but real growth and relevancy in our prayer life requires learning to pray in Jesus’ character and not in "name" only.

6 comments:

william lecorchick said...

Don't act like you came up with that yourself! I'm the brains of the family!

Tia Lynn said...

Ha Ha! You wish!!! Love you, Mein Furor!

Anthony said...

I realize that we disagree with alot but I agree with many of your thoughts here. It annoys me beyond measure when 'showmen' like that claim the name of Jesus for personal gain. Very good stuff

God bless,
Anthony

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Guy
You have got to see this. Obama playing on XBox. Funniest video ever. http://bit.ly/bllhx1

Tiffany Heerema said...

Hello Tia. This post ties in with something I've been doing a lot of reading on lately and finding very exciting. Basically, the fact that when we walk in the Spirit, it is not we who are really doing anything, it is Christ, since Christ is in us, and we ourselves do not live any longer. So, it struck me that when we truly pray in Christ's name,which could also be thought of as praying according to the will of the Father, it is as if Christ Himself is praying. I have thought of praying in Jesus' name as, like I said, praying according to the Father's will, and have also thought of it as being aware that we can only approach the Father because of what Christ did. But I really like the way the Spirit revealed it to you. If interested, check this site out: www.christinyou.net and also www.theliberatingsecret.com Both have revolutionized the way I view myself, Christ, and faith.