Another caveat in scripture is that we must ask in faith (Matthew 21:22 and Mark 11:24) without wavering (James 1:5-7).

But how do you make yourself believe something? Isn’t that kind of like trying to make yourself fall asleep when you’re awake at 3 am: the harder you try, the more elusive it becomes?

The Bible addresses this question with the biblical concept of hope. Hope is to faith what a seed is to a plant. If you plant that seed in good soil, and you don’t dig it up before it can germinate, and you water it and cultivate it and give it plenty of sunlight, eventually a plant will result. Hope is the positive side of imagination (more on how the Bible says you can get this to work in your favor in the podcast, The Power of Imagination Another reason why some of us might struggle with believing we receive when we pray has to do with a sense of unworthiness. 1 John 3:19-23 tells us, “And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.  And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”

The concept here is that, while our consciences serve a good purpose, they are not infallible. It’s possible for our hearts to condemn us falsely, which is why John says, “God is greater than our hearts.” His word tells us that Jesus bore all our condemnation (Romans 8:1), and gave us His righteousness in exchange. We are now in right standing with God, and we can come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). But if we don’t believe that we are in right standing with God, if our conscience condemns us, it will shipwreck our faith (1 Timothy 1:19). We won’t come boldly to the throne of grace. That’s why we have to renew our minds with what God says about us, so that our consciences will no longer contradict the truth of who we are and what we have in Christ (Hebrews 10:22). At the end of Jesus’ ministry, He said, “In that day you will no longer ask me anything.  I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.  Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete,” John 16:23-24. I know of two scriptural ways to interpret the idea of asking the Father in Jesus’ name. One is the concept that, because we are in Christ and we are joint heirs with Him, everything that is His has now become ours (Eph 1:17-19). It’s as if He’s given us His “power of attorney”: when we make a request of the Father, to God, it’s just as if Jesus Himself had asked. We already have every spiritual blessing in heavenly places (Eph 1:3, 17-19). That’s like having money in the bank; it might all be there waiting for you, but you can’t access it unless you make a withdrawal. It’s Jesus’ account, but we can use His name, and thus gain access to everything that’s His. He gave us permission to do that. He told us to do that. It has nothing to do with how good or holy we are, and everything to do with how good and holy He is.

The other way to think about praying in Jesus’ name is to consider the meanings of all of the various names of God. Throughout the Old Testament, whenever God revealed a new aspect of His character, He received, or He gave Himself, a new name. These included Jehovah Nissi (the Lord My Banner), Jehovah Rapha (the Lord that Heals), Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord my Righteousness), Jehovah Jireh (the Lord who Provides), and many more. Since Jesus is One with the Father and only did what He saw His father doing (John 5:19, 5:30, 8:28, 12:49), we can infer that the Father’s names apply to Jesus, as well–so anything that is in one of His names is ours.