Do you close your prayers with something like, “in Jesus’ name, Amen?” You may word it a little differently. But many of you will use some formula to indicate that your prayer is in the name of Jesus. Where do we get this? Is it biblical? What does it mean to pray in Jesus name?
First, let us establish that it is scriptural to pray in the name of Jesus. Consider the following verses:
- John 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
- John 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
John 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
- John 16:24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
- John 16:26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you.
You will notice that in all of them Jesus tells His disciples to pray to the Father in His (Jesus’) name. But is this just a formula or is there something more to it? In order to get to the bottom of praying in the name of Jesus, we need to consider three things: (1) the biblical concept of name, (2) the importance of God’s name, and (3) what it means to act in someone else’s name. Then, we will be ready to look at praying in Jesus’ name.
The Biblical Concept of Name
We must first realize that the concept of name in scripture involves much more than a tag that identifies that person and distinguishes him or her from other people. Although it does do that, it also has a much deeper meaning. Name in scripture represents the very essence of the person. A person's personality, character, reputation and authority are all wrapped up in his name.
- Proverbs 22:1 A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.
Notice the extraordinary value of a good name. Besides a man’s soul, this is the most important possession a man has. We should cherish a good name because it refers to virtue and integrity. It must be nurtured and respected as a most precious possession.
The Importance of God’s Name
That also explains why God's name is so often exalted in scripture. God’s name is a declaration of the greatness of His person. Consider these verses:
- Psalm 8:1 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
- Psalm 103:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Psalm 113:1-3 Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD'S name is to be praised.
Psalm 148:13 Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.
Because God’s name is excellent, we are to exalt it in our prayer and in our praise. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Hallowed be thy name" (Matthew 6:9). One day every knee shall bow at the feet of Jesus (Romans 14:11). Why? “God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9). His exalted name brings worship and praise.
We now understand the importance of a name in scripture. We also know that God’s name is exalted above all other names. Now, what does it mean to do something in the name of someone else?
Acting in the Name of Another
Doing something in someone else's name has two implications. First, you come by the authority of the other person. You are not coming in your own authority but because someone else authorized you to take these actions. When David fought Goliath, he came unto him "in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied" (1 Samuel 17:45). He was not coming in his own power or authority but in that which belonged to God alone. This gave David the authority and ability to fight against the giant Goliath…and win.
Second, when you come in someone’s name, you come in his stead. The person to whom you come is expected to react to you, not on the basis of who you are, but as if the person who sent you was there himself. They are to treat you as they would treat the one who authorized you to come. When David sent servants to Nabal to ask for food, "they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David" (1 Samuel 25:9). Therefore, when Nabal insulted David's servants (who came in David's name), he insulted David just as directly as if he had spoken to him to his face.
APPLICATION: Praying in the Name of Jesus
Now, let's apply this to praying in the name of Jesus. What is the significance of this? First, it means that when we come to the Father, we come because Jesus sent us. It is not simply our own idea to speak to the God of heaven and earth. We are sent to Him by His own Son. No wonder we walk into the throne of grace in boldness (Hebrews 4:16). If one of the angels were to ask us on the way in, “What are you doing here?”…We can reply, “The Son sent me.” What a glorious commission! We are sent by the Son to seek help from the Father!
Second, the Father is obligated to treat us as He would His own Son because we come in His stead. We represent the Son when we come to the Father. You don't believe this? You say that this is just too much? Then listen to these verses.
Ephesians 1:5-6 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
- Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
We are adopted into the family of God as children. We are accepted in the beloved. Since Christ is the beloved Son, that means that the Father accepts us as He would His own Son. Finally, we are joint heirs with Jesus Christ. We share in the same inheritance. The Father looks upon the redeemed as if He were looking on His Son Jesus Christ. What a blessing that Christ has told us to approach the Father in His name! What a glorious heritage!
You see the benefit of coming to the Father in the Son’s name. However, is this just referring to adding a phrase to the end of our prayers? No. It is much more than that. It means that you come to the Father with the knowledge that your only right in approaching Him is that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and that He Himself has sent you to the Father. It means that you know that you are totally unworthy of receiving anything from God and that the only reason God should grant your requests is that you come in Jesus’ name. It is not a magic formula, but a heart attitude.
Often, in my times of serious prayer about a particular need, I will spell this out. I acknowledge that I am unworthy to receive anything from God. I affirm that I come only in the name of God's Son Jesus Christ. I remind God of what He said in Romans 8:32 [“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”]. I remind Him that He did not withhold His own Son from me and that He promised not to withhold any good thing from me. I declare that I only ask for these things in the name of His Son.
In all my prayers, I try to say, "in Jesus' name." However, I know that the phrase means nothing without the heart attitude. I am nothing. Therefore, who I am makes no difference. But, when I come in the name of Jesus--that is authority and that is power!
One final word of warning: this is not a secret mystery or magical way to get your way with God. This is simply a reminder that the right we have to approach God is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The authority we have to ask requests from God is in the favor of the risen Christ. Many have had the attitude of humility and trust without the formula: “in Jesus’ name.” My concern is that many use the right formula without having the right attitude.