In the Bible it is written, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (Jn 14:14)
When we pray, why do we end our prayers with the phrase, “in Jesus’ name?” What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name?
In the text above, Jesus said He would do anything that we ask in His name. That is a promise we can take to the bank. Certainly, that must be why we pray the way we do. But what does it really mean to ask something in Jesus’ name? Are we fulfilling the requirement for answered prayer by adding these three words on at the end?
If praying in Jesus’ name means tacking the phrase, “In Jesus’ name, Amen,” on at the end of a prayer, then every prayer ending with this phrase obligates Jesus Christ to fulfill His promise and do as we ask. This is certainly what we want Him to do, and it is what He has actually promised in John 14 above. Testing this kind of thinking is very easy: have you seen such a prayer go unanswered? I certainly have. So … we have our answer: praying in Jesus’ name either means something else or Jesus Christ does not keep His Word. Take your pick.
It is interesting to note that nothing like the phrase “In Jesus’ Name” ever occurs in the Bible in the context of a prayer … not once. We do find people saying, “in the name of Jesus Christ” a few times in the context of healing and other miracles, but never in a spoken prayer.
Clearly, this is not Christ’s intent, tacking on such a phrase at the end of our prayers. He means something else.
Let’s really think about this for a moment. What could it possibly mean to ask for something in the name of Jesus Christ?
Suppose we ask for something in the name of our father, our earthly father. Might it mean to ask on his behalf, as if it were he himself asking for what we ask? Might it be as his representative, and in accordance with his will, and for His pleasure? Certainly, this is a reasonable meaning to perceive.
This is consistent with other sufficient conditions of answered prayer, such as, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1Jn 5:14-15) Asking in Jesus’ name is asking in accordance with His will. Also, we have, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (Jn 15:7) If we are walking in fellowship with Christ, if we are abiding in Him and His commands and revelations have become part of the very fabric of our souls, then we can ask anything we want … anything … and it might as well be in His name … because He will do it. We are talking about the same thing.
Only that which is according to God’s will can be done on His behalf. Only a divine purpose can be asked in Jesus’ name. When you pray, first stop to think about what is pleasing to Jesus Christ. Do not pray just to please men, or to please yourself. What is His pleasure? Ask Him to show you His way in the matter before you pray, as you pray.
The concept of applying Jesus’ name extends well beyond prayer. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Col 3:17) We are really talking about an entire manner of life here, not merely about the mechanics of effectual prayer. As an example of what it means to walk like this, consider how Paul, as he was trying to give the gospel to Sergius Paulus, the deputy of Paphos, dealt with Elymas the Sorcerer. Paul, perceiving God’s will in the conflict, simply declared, “The hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season.” Paul did not cause Elymas to be blind on his own initiative, trying to get his own will done by employing the name of Christ as some sort of magic formula. Paul perceived that this was something God was pleased to do, and Paul simply declared it to be so, that God’s hand of judgement was on Elymas … and so it was. This is no different than Elisha praying, “Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness.” (2Ki 6:18)
In both Paul and Elisha we have powerful examples showing us how to live in the name of Jesus Christ. We see men walking in such communion with God that they can ask God to do what God already wants to do, and see it happen right in front of them.
Living in the name of Christ like this is so much different than trying to use spiritual mechanics to get our own way, tacking on Jesus’ precious name to our own will and pleasure as if it were some kind of incantation. Such behavior is actually the very definition of witchcraft … mechanically manipulating spiritual devices in order to achieve our own ends. This is deep wickedness and we must never indulge in it.
In ignorant presumption, so many in our day are trying to use God to satisfy their whims, and God will eventually call them out on it in a most horrifying manner. In the end, Jesus Christ will say to so many who have engaged in witchcraft in His name, thinking they are casting out devils with their rituals and doing great things for Him, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Mt 7:22-23) What may look to us like spiritual warfare may indeed be just another form of witchcraft. How careful we must be not to walk in presumption in spiritual things … but to walk in wisdom, obedience and humility.
Everything we say must be said in Jesus’ name. Everything we do must be done in Jesus’ name. We must only speak as He would speak, we must only do as He would do. This is His command. Nothing else is acceptable. Everything else is sin. We are not our own. we are bought with a price. Therefore let us glorify God in our body, and in our spirit, which are God’s. (1Co 6:19-20)