Why Pray in Jesus’ Name?
…and we pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Heard that one before? If you’ve been around Christians much at all, no doubt this is a phrase you are well acquainted with. But why do Christians pray “in Jesus’ name”, and what does it even really mean? Remember, we shouldn’t do something simply because it’s what we are used to or because we have seen other believers do it. Instead of tacking on a meaningless (to us) phrase at the end of our prayers, we should understand why we say it, and what it means. Otherwise, we’re not really being genuine. So let’s take a quick look at this habit from the Bible’s point of view.
The simplest answer to why we should pray in Jesus’ name is that Jesus said we should. Jesus says in John 14:13-14…
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
The context is clearly prayer. So, we see that it is right for believers to pray in Jesus’ name and that there is Biblical warrant for doing so. Still, even if Jesus says we should, it’s good to understand why Jesus says it. Part of the reason we pray in Jesus’ name is because we have no authority apart from him to pray to God at all. We are all sinners and God is holy. Who are we to approach his throne? It is only because of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf that we may come to God in prayer. Remember that Jesus is the way to God, and that no one comes to the Father but through him (John 14:6). When we pray in his name, we are stating the authority we have to come before God. God listens to our prayers because we are sinless through the blood of Christ.
Some suggest that we don’t need to actually say Jesus’ name when we pray as long as we know in our hearts that we are praying in his name. I think this to be true. The phrase “in Jesus’ name” is not a magic formula to make our prayers work. It is stating a reality that we are coming to God by the authority granted us in Christ. This is real whether we say it or not. So I don’t think that if someone fails to say “in Jesus’ name” while praying that their prayers are rendered less effective. Yet at the same time, there is power in Jesus’ name (Philippians 2:10, Acts 4:12) and so I personally think it is a good habit to actually pray in Jesus’ name verbally instead of making it an unspoken assumption.
Praying in Jesus’ Name = 100% of Prayers Answered?
Jesus said that if we pray in his name that he will do whatever we ask. Wow! Now there is a powerful statement. There are no other clauses or conditions listed other than praying in his name. This is a promise that should bolster our prayer life. But at the same time, we should be careful, because some have misused this promise to promote a false teaching.
Jesus does not mean that if you say “in Jesus’ name” at the end of your prayers, whatever you asked for before it would come to pass. That is the surface meaning of John 14:13-14, but it is good to link together concepts in the Bible to get a bigger picture. Many other passages could be brought up here, but the one I’ll mention is 1 John 5:14-15…
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
Notice first that the author of both of these passages of Scripture is John, so we must rule out that these passages could contradict each other. John is not contradicting here but rather clarifying. By placing these texts side by side it becomes clear that praying in Jesus’ name and praying according to the will of God are the same thing. Otherwise, what would happen if one prayed “in Jesus’ name” something that was not God’s will? God would be forced into keeping one promise at the expense of another. But prayer does not work that way!
Consider this illustration. Imagine a man praying “God, please get my girlfriend to sleep with me, in Jesus’ name, Amen”. Is God now obligated to answer that prayer, like Jesus suggests in John 14? Of course not! Why? Because that would not be the will of God. This is how 1 John 5 helps to clarify Jesus’ promise of answered prayer. To pray in Jesus’ name means that we are praying God’s will to be done. In a case like that, where our prayers line up with the will of God, Jesus guarantees that our prayers will be both heard and answered. Praise God! This is one reason it is good to seek the will of God diligently. Being confused on God’s will can hinder our prayer life, even if we think we are praying in Jesus’ name.
So, next time you go to pray, do so in Jesus’ name, but just make sure that you are praying the will of God. Prayer is powerful if we approach it with the mindset that God’s will is beautiful and wonderful and perfect. Jesus is more than happy to do the will of his Father.