I heard her little girl voice lifting up prayer. She didn’t know I was listening to her precious gratefulness:
“Thank you God for the potty…
Thank you for the toilet paper…
Thank you for the water…
Thank you for the sink…
Thank you for the shower…
Thank you for stingrays…and sharks…and Ellie our dog…
Thank you for…”
I didn’t let her know I was listening. I’ll just keep this one in my heart. It has made me wonder though, on a night that I was already pondering prayer…what am I teaching my children about prayer? What was her little three year old mind thinking about God as she prayed?
Am I teaching that there is good solid hope in those prayers? That our heavenly Father wants to listen? Cares? Can answer…even OUR prayers? Even on days that I don’t feel like He would want to listen to me…let alone…answer.
I don’t think I’ve gone that far yet with my kids. I’ve been teaching them TO pray…but now how to think ABOUT prayer. And I’m thinking…after yesterday’s sermon…perhaps I need to teach ABOUT prayer.
Because there are some things I wish I had known my entire life that I’m just figuring out these past years.
Yesterday I didn’t just hear sweet words from my daughter, I also heard sweet words from my pastor. He reminded me of some soul-nourishing stuff.
How life-changing it would be if I could remember this: that all spiritual blessings that Christ possesses…are now also mine…are now yours…are now the church’s…the body of Christ’s…by virtue of our union with Him.
This comes from Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…”.
Spiritual blessings are what is referred to as the “merits of Christ”…the merits that are available to every believer.
Charles Spurgeion said this about the merits of Christ and about their availability to us:
“I am afraid we do not understand what it is that we have at our command when we are allowed to plead with God for Christ’s sake. When we ask God to hear us, pleading Christ’s name, we should mean, ‘O Lord, your dear Son deserves this of you. Do this unto me because of what He merits.’ In application of this principle of Christ’s rights and merits before the Father, a wealthy businessman might say to me: ‘Mr Spurgeon, call at my office, and use my name, and say that they are to give you such a thing, because I order it.’ I would go in and use the authority of his name, and I would obtain my request as a matter of right and a matter of necessity on their part–meaning that they have no other choice but to give me that thing that I have asked for. This is virtually what Jesus Christ says to us. ‘If you need anything of God, all that the Father has belongs to me. Go and use my name–meaning, go and claim My merits.'”
The definition of merit is: “What is earned or deserved. And justice demands that merit be given where it is deserved. It is something due a person for a performance. And if it is not received, an injustice is committed.”
So I think about the merit…that Jesus earned through His perfect law-keeping on our behalf.
And I think about this…
that merit…that blessing…that Jesus earned is now counted as being the rightful possession of every believer…of me.
It’s as if Jesus would say to us, “You may now speak with the Father as I speak to Him…with the same right of access…the same sense of intimacy..with the same assurance that He loves you.”
This is essentially what He says to us in John 14 when He tells us that we may ask the Father for anything in His name.
So this is what it means to pray “in Jesus’ name”. I’m praying that the merit that Jesus has earned would be transferred to my account. Perhaps I already knew that…but..I don’t think the truth through when I say it always. I don’t think they are magical words tacked on at the end…but…do I sometimes act like they are…if I am not really thinking through what that means every time?
In Jesus’ name.
Asking the Father to grant glory to His Son…through the granting of that prayer…as long as it is consistent with His will.
And here is something else Spurgeon once said, “More than all the privileges you might have enjoyed if you had never sinned, are yours now that you are justified and are now in union with Christ. All the blessings which you could have had if you had kept the law and more, are yours today, because Chrsit has kept the law for you. All the love and the acceptance which a perfectly obedient Being could have obtained of God, belong to you, because Christ was perfectly obedient on your behalf. And because of this, all of His merits have been imputed to your account…so that you might be exceedingly rich through HIm who for your sake became exceedingly poor.”
What would happen if I truly grasped that AND lived it out. How much more would I pray? Who and What would I pray for and about? How often do I pray based I’m adding up in my mind my own merits and demerits of the day?
As my pastor-husband said, “I know this is almost too good to be true…but this is the boldness with which we can now come to the throne of grace…because of the merit of Jesus Christ and because of our union with Him…we are granted this kind of access to the Father. It IS almost too good to be true. But thanks be to God that it IS true!”
(Written from notes taken from Darrell Jung’s sermon on The Benefits of our Union with Chrsit…Every Spiritual Blessing, October 28, 2012.)