START Your Prayers “In Jesus’ Name” (1 of 2)

Somehow, over the almost 2 millennia since the Lord Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, most Christians have come to understand the phrase “in Jesus’ name” merely as a sanctified sign-off. The phrase as we use it might rightly be translated in a number of ways:

  • “Sincerely,”
  • “Ten-four. Over-and-out.”
  • “Thanks for listening.”
  • “I’m done now. It’s someone else’s turn.”

Although this may be somewhat comical, it reveals a truth that is no laughing matter: we have taken what Jesus provided as a great privilege backed by glorious doctrinal truths and turned it into a mindless phrase—the very sort of vain repetition which He explicitly forbade (Matt 6:7). How ironic and tragic! Besides repeating the phrase like magic words or a religious mantra, many a believer takes offense when a brother ends a prayer with a simple “Amen,” rather than with “in Jesus’ name.” Friends, we’re missing the point.

What Jesus intended to teach us the night before His betrayal and crucifixion (John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24, 26)—and what the epistles continue to emphasize—is that we have access into the presence of the Father on the merits of Jesus Christ alone. Hebrews 10:19-22 puts it this way:

“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

The point of praying in Jesus’ name is that we are able to claim the privileges which rightly belong to Him alone. We are able to “come boldly to the throne of grace” (Heb 4:14-16) because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, the blood of Christ shed for us, and the High Priesthood of Christ whereby He represents us. What an amazing thought! Whereas even the godliest of OT saints were excluded from the holy of holies under the Old Covenant, the NT believer is able to come directly into the presence of the thrice holy God with boldness—not because of our own righteousness, but because of Christ! That is precisely what it means to pray “in Jesus’ name,” whether or not we utter the phrase. Indeed, it is far more important that we understand the truth behind the words than that we actually say them, especially when most of us say them thoughtlessly.

Let me end with a practical suggestion, then: rather than ending your prayers with an “in Jesus’ name” sign-off, start your prayers in Jesus’ name! Remind yourself and confess to God these great truths:

“Father, I’m not coming to you because of any righteousness of my own, for I have none. I’m painfully aware of my sin, and in myself I have no right to stand before You or be heard by You. Nevertheless, I do come, and I do so boldly and with thanksgiving because of the blood and righteousness of Christ. He is worthy to be heard by You and to commune with You, and He has granted me those same privileges. So I pray ‘in Jesus’ name,’ rejoicing in my salvation through Christ.”

Start your prayers in Jesus’ name. Doing so will help eliminate two errors to which we all are prone…and which I’ll cover in the next post.

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6 Responses

  1. Chris,
    It is sad to think that we treat this phrase so lightly in our prayers. It is the only means by which we can come to the Father and yet it truly has become our “magic phrase” that will help cause my requests to be answered. This is a good reminder for me too. I am all too often haphazard with this idea. I am looking forward to part 2.
    Kevin

  2. Hey Chris,
    thanks for the post. As I preached John 16:16 – 24, I dealt with the “ask of the Father in my name” aspect of it. Somehow, in light of 14:13 – 14, we need to interpret “in my name” and come away with a genuine hope from His promise.

    As I compared the “ask in my name” passages, there was a John passage that connected prayer to the Father with our abiding and remaining. And, I think a good interpretation is to come away with this: To ask in His name is not a use of His name to only gain favorable access to the Father, because the access is already granted to Christians. “In my name” in regard to petitioning in prayer has more to do with asking ‘for the sake’ of the Son. The implication of Christ seems to be that if we ask things of the Father which are in line with, or are for His sake, then we are asking for things which are in line with the Son’s purposes. Some admittedly incomplete thoughts, but I think this goes in line with Jesus’ work to get the disciples to pray and to pray in an effective way.

    BTW, we are profiting greatly from your songs/hymns. A man in our church, and I will be doing a shortened version of I Love Your Church (to the tune I sent you a couple months back…) That man’s daughter will be singing “My Jesus Fair” soon in our morning service here at Westside Baptist…

  3. BTW,
    my login doesn’t give my name–this is Sam Hendrickson, Pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Jenison. And the “wink” at the end of the last post is not supposed to be there…good ole default emoticons…

  4. Hey, Sam.

    Thanks for the comment(s). :) BTW, I turned off the emoticon option. Drives me nuts.

    I’ll think on your “in His name” comment. I think the idea of “access” is paramount in John 14-16, but perhaps the concept of “for the sake of His name” is included as well. It’s certainly a theme that is prominent throughout both the Testaments.

    Finally, I’m glad to hear that the Lord is using those hymns at Westside. Praise the Lord!

  5. […] Prayers “In Jesus’ Name” (2 of 2) Posted on July 2, 2008 by Chris In the previous post (which you should read prior to this one), I touched on the wonderful theology that is encapsulated […]

  6. […] by His merit that we approach the Father (Hebrews 10:19-22; John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24). (See this article for more information on our constant approach of God through […]

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