Are You REALLY Praying in Jesus’ Name?
Strange as it sounds, many believers seem to invoke “Jesus’ name” in order to secure a prime parking place at the mall, a pay raise at work, or even the winning lottery ticket. Like me, maybe you have used “in Jesus’ name” as a prayer-concluding formula to persuade God to give you something you really wanted – or thought you needed.
Most of us know that the idea of praying “in Jesus’ name” is far beyond the routine of adding these three words at the end of our supplications. Yet, it is the traditional thing to do. In group or public prayers, it is a given that whoever prays better wrap it up “in Jesus’ name.” When they fail to do so, they may get a few raised eyebrows and expressions of doubt about the spiritual legitimacy of their prayers. After all, will God really hear their prayers if they fail to include this three-word add-on?
Jesus’ Name in Worship-Based Prayer
In recent years I have consistently begun my prayers with these words: “Father, in Jesus’ name, and by the Holy Spirit . . .” This affirmation actually changes the way I pray from the outset. “In Jesus’ name” was never designed to be a tack-on at the end of our superficial requests. Rather, praying in His name brings us into a reality that changes why, how, and what we pray, from the very opening moment of our communion with God.
In recent years I have consistently begun my prayers with these words: “Father, in Jesus’ name, and by the Holy Spirit . . .” This affirmation actually changes the way I pray from the outset. “In Jesus’ name” was never designed to be a tack-on at the end of our superficial requests.
One of the amazing benefits of a worship-based, gospel-focused approach to prayer is that it fundamentally takes our eyes off ourselves and fixes them on Christ. We establish our prayer experience on Him, not ourselves. We seek to pray His thoughts, not our own. As the Spirit takes the conductor’s wand of the Scriptures and orchestrates our praying, we cannot help but turn our eyes upon Jesus and “look full in His wonderful face.” Then, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”[i] At that moment of wonder and intimacy we are really in the place to truly pray in Jesus’ name, regardless of the final three words of the prayer.
Asking in Jesus’ Name
We all like guarantees. Advertisers tout “satisfaction guaranteed” and money-back guarantees on the products they want us to buy. Jesus, by the authority that only the Son of God can offer, makes a bold guarantee about prayer: “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). He keeps speaking of the power of His name in prayer in this upper room interaction.
Jesus, by the authority that only the Son of God can offer, makes a bold guarantee about prayer: “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
In John 15:16-17, Christ expands our understanding of the necessity and proper use of His name: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”
In John 16:23-24 He states, “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now, you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
In these verses we are confronted with a condition and result for all of our requests. The condition is that we ask in Jesus’ name. Samuel Chadwick explained, “To pray in the Name of Christ is to pray as one who is at one with Christ, whose mind is the mind of Christ, whose desires are the desires of Christ and whose purpose is one with that of Christ.” He further clarified, “Prayers offered in the Name of Christ are scrutinized and sanctified by His nature, His purpose, and His will. Prayer is endorsed by the Name when it is in harmony with the character, mind, desire, and purpose of the Name.”[ii]
In his excellent book, The God Who Hears, W. Bingham Hunter summarizes the New Testament teaching about praying “in Jesus’ name” with these four truths:
- It seeks the Glory of God.
- Its foundation is the death, resurrection, and intercession of Jesus.
- It is offered by Jesus’ obedient disciples (Hunter points out that praying in Jesus’ name is virtually synonymous with obedience to Jesus).
- It asks what Jesus Himself would pray for.[iii]
Hunter goes on to summarize, “The shortest and perhaps the best answer is simply: Jesus prayed according to the will of God. And that, ultimately, is what it means for you and me to pray in Jesus’ name – to pray according to the will of God.”[iv] This explains why Jesus was so emphatic that whatever we ask in His name, we will receive.
“Jesus prayed according to the will of God. And that, ultimately, is what it means for you and me to pray in Jesus’ name – to pray according to the will of God.” W. Bingham Hunter
Dr. Randal Roberts, of Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, says, “It is to pray in a manner consistent with His values and purposes . . . It is to pray with the glorification of God as the supreme motive; It is to pray as Jesus would pray were He in our circumstances; It is to pray as His followers who have been appointed as instruments of fruit-bearing in the outworking of His mission . . . It is learning to ask for the good things that He delights to give from the devoted heart that He delights to bless.”[v]
What happens when we pray in Jesus’ name? What is the ultimate purpose and result? According to Jesus’ multiple commands in this Upper Room Discourse, the outcomes of praying in His name are:
- The Father will be glorified in the Son.
- We bear fruit that remains.
- Our joy is full.
How many times have you been frustrated rather than fulfilled in prayer? Frustration comes from bombarding heaven with our self-styled ideas of what God should do to accomplish our will in heaven. Fulfillment comes from knowing that His will is being implemented on earth. Deep reward is found in knowing that the Father is glorified by our prayers, and that our relationship with Him is producing the lasting fruit of deep character and spiritual impact. Joy comes from this deep fulfillment. So let’s really start praying “in Jesus’ name”!
How many times have you been frustrated rather than fulfilled in prayer? Frustration comes from bombarding heaven with our self-styled ideas of what God should do to accomplish our will in heaven. Fulfillment comes from knowing that His will is being implemented on earth.
Copyright © 2020 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.
This devotional is adapted from Daniel Henderson’s book, Transforming Prayer: How Everything Changes When You Seek God’s Face.
You can order your copy HERE.
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For additional insight on praying “in Jesus’ name”, check out another one of our Monday Motivators HERE.
[i] Helen H. Lemmel, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, 1922, Public Domain
[ii] Samuel Chadwick, The Path of Prayer (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1936), 52
[iii] W. Bingham Hunter, The God Who Hears (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 198
[iv] Ibid, 198
[v] Randal Roberts, Praying in the Name of Jesus from the book Giving Ourselves to Prayer – An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Terre Haute, IN, PrayerShop Publishing, 2008), 47