Why Do Christians Pray “in Jesus’ Name”?

Winfred Neely
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On the night that He was betrayed, Jesus instructed His disciples—and by implication His people throughout history—to pray in His name. To see how Jesus emphasized this point, read John 14:13–24.

Praying in the name of Jesus generally is interpreted to mean that we simply add the words “in the name of Jesus” or “for Jesus’ sake” at the end of our prayers. These precious encouragements to pray in the name of Jesus are understood in this way because today people in the Western world do not think of names the way people thought of them in the ancient world. Today we give people names to distinguish them from one another, whereas in the ancient world a name represented a person—his character, nature, all that he was. In the Scriptures, the name of God stands for the totality—a summary representation—of God’s person, nature, and character.

To pray in Jesus’ name does not mean that we just add the words “in Jesus’ name” at the end of our prayers. Praying in this way reduces prayer to a formula. To pray in Jesus’ name means that we pray in a way that is in harmony with Jesus’ character, person, and nature. It means that we pray with attitudes and a heart disposition that are consistent with the attitudes and heart disposition of Jesus—faith in God the Father, reverence for God’s person, and willingness to submit to God’s will. Of course, it is okay to add “in the name of Jesus” at the end of our prayers as long as we know what we are doing and understand the implications of the words. Still, we can pray in Jesus’ name without tacking the words on as some kind of spiritual formula at the end of our prayers. The Lord is concerned with the condition of our heart and the quality of our attitudes in prayer (Ps. 66:18–19; James 4:3).

For Further Reading:

Do Angels Really Have Wings?

by Today in the Word

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