If you pray as a Christian, you probably use the phrase “in Jesus’ name” multiple times a day. But be honest with yourself: don’t you tend to slur these words together as the transition from your prayer to whatever comes next? (I know I do.) Do you ever even think about what they mean? (Until today, I never really did.)
What does it mean to pray “in Jesus’ name”?
True Christian prayers are always in Jesus’ name, even if that phrase is not used. John 14:13-14 says: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (see also John 15:16, 16:23-26).
Doing something in someone else’s name means that you 1) come in the other person’s stead, and 2) come by his authority. When you pray in Jesus’ name, you are approaching God the Father with a prayer that Jesus himself would pray. In a sense you are saying: “Jesus told me to pray this prayer.”
How do I genuinely pray “in Jesus’ name”?
To genuinely pray in Jesus’ name, you must pray based on who Jesus is. Because you are claiming his authority, you had better be praying for what he would authorize. Your requests must be focused on bringing glory to him, not yourself.
If your prayers are sinful, you are not genuinely praying in Jesus’ name. This is not to be taken lightly: It is spiritual forgery to sign Jesus’ name to prayers he would not approve.
When I say “in Jesus’ name”, what am I really saying?
First, you are confessing that Jesus is the only way to God. Hebrews 10:19-20 says: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (see also I Timothy 2:5). If Jesus had not died for us, God would ignore any prayers we might offer. By saying “in Jesus’ name” we are clinging to our salvation through Christ and the promise that through him we have the right to communion with God.
Second, you are acknowledging the superiority of Jesus’ name to your own — or anyone else’s. You depend on Jesus alone (and the salvation he has brought to you) to be heard by Almighty God. Acts 4:12 says: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Third, you are submitting your will to Jesus’, asking that God be glorified through the answers to your prayers. Jesus himself prayed: “Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You” (John 17:1). Note: When you genuinely pray “thy will be done”, you are saying: “God, I believe that my requests align with what Jesus would ask of You. But I am only human, and am often mistaken. Please ignore the requests that I wouldn’t have made if I could see everything from Your perspective.”
How should understanding this transform my prayer life?
Take your prayers more seriously. Pray for God’s glory, not your own gratification. Ask yourself whether you truly want what Jesus wants. Finally, be confident — God promises to hear you! 🙂