Jesus’ ascension into heaven may be the most neglected cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith. While His incarnation, life, death, and resurrection all feature prominently in our thinking (as they should!), His ascension is often completely forgotten. But Acts 1 teaches us that far from being a secondary event, Jesus’ ascension was an unparalleled exaltation that fueled the life, worship, and witness of the Church for centuries to come, and that continues to fuel the lives of everyone who looks to Him for grace.
God often leads us to the end of our rope, but only to show us that our rope is a poor substitute for His grace. Both Elijah and the widow of Zarephath faced dire circumstances, but only so that they might increasingly rely on the covenantal God who sustains us through His life-giving word that speaks of His life-giving Son.
An important part of the Bible’s instruction on prayer comes from our Lord himself when he said, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name…” (John 14:14). But what did Jesus mean by praying in his name? The Westminster Confession and Catechisms, our own denomination’s doctrinal standards, have a very practical section on prayer (more so than many other major reformed standards from the Reformation). We’ll look at what the Westminster standards teach us about prayer, specifically what it means to pray in the name of Christ.