Following Jesus

discipleship • the inner life • prayer
community of goods • faith • repentance

Following Jesus

What Does It Mean to Pray in His Name?

November 28, 2016 by

Eberhard Arnold was a theologian, educator, publisher, and community leader who wrote, published, and spoke extensively in Europe in the early twentieth century. He lived through World War I, the economic and political instability following the war, and Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. Although he died in November 1935, before Hitler’s cruelty had reached its peak and before the outbreak of World War II, he sensed the direction in which Germany was going. With a far-reaching outlook and unabashed boldness he urged his congregation to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit to change all things – and to believe that their prayer would make a difference. —Emmy Maendel

The whole world is shaking in all its joints. One has the frightening impression that we stand before one of the greatest catastrophes of judgment. If this catastrophe does not take place, it has at least drawn so close that it can be averted only by God’s direct intervention…

Before the Holy Spirit was poured out, the prophets, John the Baptist, and Jesus had said, “The kingdom of God is at hand! Change yourselves from the ground up and believe in this message of joy: God is drawing near! God’s lordship shall demolish all other authorities! Nothing will be left but God and his government, only his justice and his love, only his mercy and his peace, his unity and his kingdom.”

And as Jesus took leave of his disciples, he said to them, “Remain here and wait, even if it should be fifty days, wait. Wait in the certainty that the promise of the Father will come to you. Wait till it comes. Do not leave the place of your meeting until the promise is fulfilled in you.”

The Holy Spirit is not a personal matter. He never was, never is, and never will be. The Holy Spirit is God’s first step toward the revelation of his reign over the whole earth, over all the nations, all worlds, and all the millennia of all eons.

The wind that comes before the storm belongs to the storm. The Holy Spirit belongs to the day of judgment, the day of redemption, and to the breaking in of the kingdom.

What we are expecting from God we expect for the whole of humanity. We expect it for all peoples and nations, for all cities and villages, for all individual human hearts, and for the whole complex of the more than two billion people who inhabit the earth. Yes, we expect it not only for those people who are living now but also for the immense number of all those men who have died and for those who are not yet born.

a child lying on a dock and looking at the water of a lake

Jesus said, “Till now you have asked nothing in my name, but now you will ask in my name and nothing will be impossible for you. You will move mountains, uproot trees; nothing will be impossible for you. All that you believe will be given to you if you ask in my name.” Jesus the redeemer! Jesus the king of the coming kingdom! To ask in his name means to call in faith for his regime to win through.

We ask this for each of us and for the whole world, for Abyssinia and Italy, for the German people and the Russian people, for China and Japan for the whole world, which is drawing its last breath and appears to be dying of the poison of the first Adam. We ask that now over the whole world the new day of the last Adam burst open through the pouring out of the Holy Spirit; that now the ceiling of this house be lifted up and the heavens opened; that the new day come down now in the flames of the Holy Spirit.

We ask for it in the sense of God’s kingdom breaking into the whole world and into all humankind. This is the charge given to the church: to be ambassadors and envoys of the coming kingdom. The character of the coming kingdom is simply this: the knowledge of God will be poured out over all the lands like a downpour, like water covering the whole earth. The mystery of this new kingdom is that the spirit of God, the sap of his tree, the blood of his son, will fill and penetrate all. There will be no need for commandments and prohibitions, for tables of commandments and tablets of law; in this kingdom everything will be ordered through the inner birth and the inward inspiration which come from the reign of the spirit of Jesus Christ. This is the nature of his embassy.

We ask only one thing: that this one and only Holy Spirit come to us and establish among us the government and reign of God; that nothing else count for us but only this one thing, the spirit of the coming kingdom of Jesus Christ. Him we entreat to step into the life of this church community, so that from here he may stream out and radiate into the whole world, into the hearts of all people; a hidden and mysterious working of this very spirit who speaks his word from heart to heart and from soul to soul.

We come before God and allow ourselves to be struck by his beam of light sent down upon us by God’s majesty, that in this way, we become transformed into a church of light representing his kingdom of peace, his action in the world and his authority for the world. We pray for the whole world, for all kings and emperors, for all presidents, all leaders and all rulers. We pray for all ministers and all officials of city and state, we pray for all princes and chiefs, we pray for all generals and all soldiers, we pray for all policemen, patrolmen, and troopers, for all high and all low government authorities, for all prominent and for all humiliated people, for all highly civilized and for all so-called uncivilized peoples and nations. We pray for the poorest and most degraded person to be found under the vaulted heaven and for the most powerful tyrant on this globe, for our brothers and sisters, for our friends and companions. We pray for all our enemies, who are trying to destroy us and to drive us apart.

We come before God to ask that all of them, whoever they are and wherever they can be found, may be visited by the tremendous might of Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit descending upon this earth.

Excerpted from an unpublished talk given on September 2, 1935. Read another timely selection by Eberhard Arnold previously published on our blog. An authorized biography, Against the Wind, is available from Plough.

Emmy Maendel lives at the Spring Valley Bruderhof; she is an author with a particular interest in Bruderhof history and the writings of Eberhard Arnold.


About the author

Emmy Maendel

Emmy Maendel

Emmy Maendel, an author with a particular interest in Bruderhof history, writes a regular blog post featuring timely...

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