Twenty-plus years ago there were gas stations that pumped the gas FOR you!! Yeah, seriously!! And back then we called ’em “SERVICE Stations”… (emphasis on the word SERVICE) Bet ya know why THAT little name got DROPPED! But I’m not bitter! We accept change and move on! Like most things, though, this didn’t happen overnight. It was a gradual change.
- First it was an option. (If you were a healthy, young man, why would you not?)
- Then it was a cost savings. (you could save what, a nickel?..if you pumped it yourself?)
- And eventually words like SERVICE Station became Gas Station, but where’s the nice man in an Exxon uniform who not only pumped your gas, but he washed your windshield, checked your oil, and kicked your tires?!! (Well, I may be exaggerating a tad! But I did use to watch a lot of Andy Griffith and Gomer and Goober did it that way at Wally’s! But I digress!)
- Anyway… now you pump your own….. no options. (unless you live in NJ, but that’s another story!)
Alas, my memories probably overlap between what was going on in Mayberry and what was going on at the service station in Boones Creek in the mid ’90’s when we were launching our kids as drivers; but I do remember that back then you could pump…. or not. And you could pay cash…. OR there was an in-house credit system where you just said….“put that on my account”. No plastic involved back then! I guess they had some sort of ledger and at the end of the month, they sent you a bill.
Enter the scene our teen drivers! We would let them get gas at that Boones Creek service station and put it on their Dad’s account. And the deal was….. duh, no abuse of the system! They could not get 3 tanks of gas a week, they could not fill up their friend’s cars with gas, they could not purchase 5 Moon Pies and a big orange, nor could they ask for anything that would go against their father’s wishes. I don’t recall us ever really having that family meeting or conversation setting down these restrictions, but the thing is….. they knew their Dad! They knew his heart, they knew his character, they knew his intent, they knew his will, and they knew that it was his account…. and it was IN HIS NAME! And so they asked the attendant for that gas according to their father’s wishes. Why would they not?
I’ve always recalled our days at the little Boones Creek service station when I’ve encountered the numerous scriptures that make reference to “praying in My name”……
John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you.
John 16:23 In that day you will ask nothing of Me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you.
Now all that said…..prayer is not some blank check whereby we get whatever we want, just as long as we add the ending tag “in Jesus’ name”, as if it’s pixie dust or a magic chant!
As I consider what it means to pray in Jesus’ name, my mind goes back to our teens getting gas in their Daddy’s name….. knowing His character, His heart, His wishes, His desires….. and I think they are somewhat parallel or analogous.
I think about my prayer life and what it means to ask for something within the realm of the Father’s heart, and I must consider……is it in keeping with the character of God, does it align with His desires and His will, what exactly is His intent? And as I consider this, I wonder….how will I know? Certainly we have Scriptural reference that we can ask amiss (i.e. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” James 4:3) So that said, I think it matters that we seek to KNOW the Father and get to know His character and His heart! But how do we do this?
Well, He’s pretty well spelled it out for us! From Genesis to Revelation…. He’s given us a Book! It’s a book that tells what matters to Him. It’s a book that tells us about His plan …. about His Son, who IS His plan! It’s a book that tells what His desire is for us. In this book He cautions and warns. In this book He tells us about His blessings and rewards. It’s a book that tells what He loves…. a book that tells what He hates. He tells us obedience matters. He tells us loving Him is our highest obedience!
So…. as we come to Him in prayer, perhaps we would do well to meet Him first in His Word, where we learn His character, His intent, His heart, His will, His desires, what delights Him, His cautions, His purpose…… not just for us, but for His bigger plan! Because then, as we consider His bigger purposes, we might just find ourselves wording our prayers a little differently. As we’re “Praying in His Name” we might seriously ask….. “is what I want, what HE wants for me?” Yeah, who doesn’t want a boatload of Moon Pies….. but they might just not be the best thing for me!!