Why do we always end our prayers in Jesus’ name? What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name?
The command to pray in Jesus’ name is taught in John 14:13-14: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” This command to pray in Jesus’ name is repeated in John 15:16 and 16:23-24.
Some seem to think that as long as they say the magic words “In Jesus’ name we pray”, God WILL grant them their requests: “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you” (John 26:23). And, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14).
They will be disappointed. Paul prayed three times that the thorn in his flesh might be removed, but it stayed with him (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Even our Lord prayed for the cup of suffering to be removed, but God did not grant Him His request (Matthew 26:39).
James 4:3 says some would be disappointed when they did not receive what they asked for: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
What does it mean “to ask amiss?” Thayer defines the word as “improperly, wrongly.” It means the person has asked for the wrong thing, or a thing that is improper. Perhaps, he is asking to fulfil his self-indulgence and carnal gratification. Perhaps his request is against the will of God. 1 John 5:4 explains it: “If we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us.” It implies that if a thing asked is not according to God’s will, He will not hear us.
What Does It Mean to Pray In Jesus’ Name?
Simply put, praying in Jesus’ name means praying by His authority, and asking God the Father to act upon our prayers because we come in the name of His Son, Jesus.
Well, who gives us this authority to come to the Father in Jesus’ name? The answer: JESUS! He said it in John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24.
Does He give that authority to everyone? No, He only gives it to those who are His disciples: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
How can anyone address God as their Father in heaven when they have not become sons of God? How does one become a child of God? “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26, 27).
Notice the three-letter word “for”. The word “for” means “because”. The Galatians were children of God because their faith led them to baptism. In baptism, one is baptized INTO the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). The word “INTO’ means the person is baptised into the fellowship of the Godhead; he now has a relationship with the members of the Godhead: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).
As Christians, we are children of God, and therefore, we have the “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19). The Father knows it and He will love us just as He loves His Son: “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God” (John 16:27).
When we pray in Jesus’ name, we are proclaiming these things:
1. His Authority.
A policeman can come knocking on your door and demand you open it for him because he comes “in the name of the law.” He has authority from the law. So, when we come knocking on God’s door to make a request, we say we have Christ’s authority. Christians approach God in their prayers in the name of Christ Jesus; non-Christians do not have the same access.
2. He is our Intercessor.
When Jesus ascended to heaven after His resurrection, He became our intercessor and our advocate to the Father (Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1; Hebrews 7:25). When we pray in Jesus’ name, we are acknowledging that Christ is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). The Father will love us, and thus listen to us, for His Son’s sake (John 16:27).
3. Our faith in Jesus Christ
We proclaim our faith in Jesus when we invoke His name in our prayers (Matthew 10:32). In doing so, we tell the unbelievers in our midst about our Lord Jesus.
Is It Necessary to End Every Prayer with “in Jesus’ Name”? What if a person forgets to utter it?
From the day we were converted, we were taught that we must always end our prayers in Jesus’ name. We have been taught so well that it has become a ritual with no meaning other than it’s what we have always been taught. Hence, when a prayer leader forgets to end his prayer in Jesus’ name, we get a shock. We even think the prayer is unscriptural. We even think God is not going to hear that prayer.
Colossians 3:17 says: “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.”
We know by now that doing things in the name of Jesus means doing them by His authority. Yet, we do many things “in Jesus’ name” without vocalizing that phrase. Did you hear the song leader or the speaker utter it before he started leading the hymns or delivering his sermon?
Christ says in Mark 9:41 “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” Have you heard anyone saying this: “Here is a cup of water. I am giving it to you in Jesus’ name?” We do many things in Jesus’ name without vocalizing it.
Do not get me wrong. I am not advocating we should not end the prayer in Jesus’ name. What is important is that we acknowledge in our hearts that our access to God in prayer is only through the “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Yes, someone who is a new convert or new to leading a prayer in public may fumble and forget to utter it, but it does not make the prayer unscriptural.
The phrase, “in Jesus’ name” at the conclusion of the prayer is not some “magic formula”. No sin is committed if the phrase is not uttered, so long as the individual is aware of Christ’s mediation.
However, it is expedient to use this phrase or something similar during public prayer. It gets the members’ attention that the prayer is coming to an end. I had been in situations where either the prayer was too soft and I did not know it had ended, or the prayer was in a foreign language. As Paul says: “How shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?” (1 Corinthians 14:16).
“In Jesus’ name” can be uttered at the beginning, middle, or end of the prayer. However, it has become a tradition to end the prayer with “in Jesus’ name.”
It is right and wise to say the words “in Jesus’ name” when we pray. It shows our understanding of prayers. It acknowledges our submission to Christ’s authority and His interceding work for us. It is a show of our faith in Christ Jesus. It tells the unbelievers in our midst about the Person we are coming together to pray. Thus, we honour our Lord when we pray “in Jesus’ name.”
Remember this: The words are not the most important. As John Bunyan in his classic book, The Pilgrim Progress, wrote: “In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” The condition of our hearts is the most important aspect of talking to the living God: “Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth” (John 9:31).
Is your heart right with God when you pray?