ESSAY: Praying in Jesus’ Name
John 13-17 is a five-chapter long account of one meal, Jesus’ last supper with His disciples before He went to be crucified. And SEVEN TIMES during this last supper, Jesus instructed His disciples to ask “in His name.” In John 14:13 Jesus told them, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Then, in John 14:14 He reiterated His instruction, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. Later in the meal, in John 14:26, Jesus repeated the emphasis on the power of his name, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Still later, Jesus again emphasizes, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”
Still later the Lord yet again implores His disciples, “Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” And two more times during this Last Supper, Jesus emphasizes this principle: “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. In that day you will ask in my name. (John 16:24-26).
So, we see that there is power when we ask God for something “in Jesus’ name.” In John 14:12, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these….” Jesus is telling this first group of called out believers that through prayer in Jesus name they will be able to do even greater works than we see Jesus do in scripture. And you could make a case that this is so. Jesus left the world with around 120 who believed in Him, but now around the world about three and a half billion people in some way name Jesus as central to their faith. Jesus healed, but around our nation a majority of the hospitals in our land, if you look at their original name was Baptist Hospital, Presbyterian Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, Methodist Hospital. These hospitals continue Jesus healing ministry.
And prayer in Jesus name is the way to achieve these greater works. But, I want to suggest to you that prayer itself to the Father in Jesus name IS the greater work as we pray for God’s will to be done and His kingdom to be established here on earth. The Lord’s Prayer says it this way, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Everything significant for God is always conceived in prayer, bathed in prayer, established by prayer, and fueled by prayer every step of the way. In fact there is a good chance that every failure we ever had in life is actually a failure…in prayer!
Seven times in the last meal before the crucifixion Jesus tells his disciples to pray “in His name.” We talk a lot about Jesus’ seven last sayings from the cross, but sometimes do not notice these seven last commands of Jesus before the Cross. And all seven of these commands were the same, “Ask in my name.”
Notice that in John 16:24 Jesus told his disciples that, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.” Imagine that. Maybe it’s because Jesus was already with them, but that he was about to go to the Father, and Jesus kind of become our advocate. Pleading for our salvation and paying the penalty we owed for our sin with His own blood. On this night of the last supper Jesus knew that there soon would be power in His name. Why? Because in Philippians 2:5-11 we read a description of how Jesus humbled Himself unto the death of the Cross. But then as you know, God highly exalted Jesus and gave him a name that is above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. And thus, we now can pray and call upon that powerful name!
Jesus knew His name was about to be glorified and imbued with power, so he instructed His disciples seven times to call on His name, ask in His name, and pray in Jesus’ name. There is POWER when we ask, “in Jesus’ name.”
But this is not a superstitious phrase. Some pray and say “in Jesus’ name” at the end of a prayer like “abracadabra,” thinking of this phrase as a formula somehow magically give them what they seek. And it is not a formulaic phrase, just thinking that the command to pray in Jesus name is a ritualistic formula tagged to the end of your prayer. Some people end every prayer flippantly with the words, “in Jesus’ name,” but their prayer is not anywhere close to expressing the heart of God, reflecting the character of God, or connecting with the power of God.
When you truly pray “in Jesus name” you are accepting Jesus’ dare to pursue Him fully. You accept God’s challenge to take on the promise of praying with a reckless, radical, adventurous attitude of plunging headlong into the flood of His will and character. You begin an epic journey to pray big prayers to a big God who has big answers. And, you want His will and His answers…not yours. This gives you the boldness and the freedom to pray for strongholds to be removed from that loved ones’ life, for God to stop the violence in our cities, for God to break addictions and heal sicknesses and rid the world of pandemics, and for the Lord establish revival and peace in our nation, and for the Lord to transform our world “in His name” and in His power.
What if a group of Christians really got together in unity and believed in praying in Jesus’ name? We actually have an example in scripture. After the ascension of Jesus, the Bible says in Acts 2 that they were all in an upper room praying “in one accord.” And the Holy Spirit came, and 3000 were saved, and the church was established.
In Acts chapter 4 the Bible says that again they were praying “in one accord” and the place they were praying in was shaken and then great things begin to happen and things began to break. Racial barriers were broken, regional barriers were broken, spiritual barriers were broken. The church was storming the gates of hell and within a generation the message of Jesus had permeated the entire known world. So, in the Bible, the prayer meeting seemed to be the heartbeat of the church. What if churches today asked in one accord and “in Jesus’ powerful name” for God to heal the big issues we face today? One can only imagine the results.
So, what does it mean to pray “in Jesus’ Name?” This is important to know, or you may be taking His name in vain, which does not just refer to cursing, but also means using God’s name in an empty and ineffective way. Here are a few answers:
1_ First, when you pray “in Jesus name” you are acknowledging your need for a mediator. In 1 Timothy 2:5, the apostle Paul writes that there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” And when you pray in Jesus name you are acknowledging that you are not worthy to come to God in your own merits. When you pray “in Jesus name” you are saying, “I need a go-between; someone to advocate for me before the throne of God.” Your confidence is not in yourself, or how much you know the Bible, or how long you have been a follower of Jesus, or how eloquent an pray-er you are, or how righteous you are. Your confidence is in the righteousness of your mediator…Jesus Christ.
2_ Also, when you pray “in Jesus’ name” you are acknowledging your need for an intercessor. You are asking the Lord to redeem your stammering prayer into the right prayer, for the right time, with the right power, for the right things, and for the right results. By the way, did you know that while you pray in Jesus’ name, Jesus is also praying and interceding for your? Look at Hebrews 7:25, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” And in Roman 8:34 we read, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” And when you pray “in Jesus name” you are confessing your need and your acceptance of that intercession.
3_ Thirdly, when you pray “in Jesus’ Name” you are acknowledging that “He is.” You are acknowledging that, not only is there a God that exists, but that He is active in your life and in the world. Hebrews 11:6 says it this way, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” So you must truly believe that He is. And, if you truly believed the facts about Jesus, no one could ever keep you from praying. If you really believed all that’s in the Bible about Jesus…that He’s the way, the truth, and the life…that He is the Lord of all…that He is God incarnate…that He is the resurrected King of Kings, no one could drag you from the place of prayer. You cannnot truly pray in Jesus name if He is just a hopeful Savior…you must know that He is YOUR Savior…your loving and merciful Lord…the resurrected King of Kings. And if you believe HE IS all that, wild horses would not be able to drag you from your place of prayer each day to pray in Jesus’ Name.
A name represents the person. And it’s the same with Jesus Christ. All of his character and identity are wrapped up in His name. And this name represents a real person…Jesus Christ…not some metaphysical concept…but a real and living Lord with real attributes that call you to pray. When you see his goodness, you must pray with thanksgiving. When you see his holiness, you must pray with confession. When you see his glory, you must pray with adoration and the list goes on and on.
4_ But not only do you pursue his attributes. When you pray “in Jesus name” it means you are pursuing his promises. There are around 7500 promises from God in the Bible. And, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.” And…“in His Name” can you truly apprehend all the promises of God. But some are not pursuing them and as a result are living a defeated and mediocre spiritual lives. So, I want to issue a challenge to you to get a highlighter, and mark every time you read a promise from God in the Bible…and then claim that promise and pursue that promise in prayer, claiming that promise in Jesus’ Name.
5_ Fifth, when you pray “in Jesus Name” it means you are standing before God in prayer with a pure conscience. The Bible says in Psalm 66 that, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” So, if you are trying to pray but still cherish sin in your heart, it’s not really praying in Jesus name, and it’s not really even prayer at all…it’s just mumbo jumbo. In fact, the Lord says in Proverbs 28:9, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable.” So, if your heart is wrong, your prayer is wrong!
This is why it’s so important for confession of sin to be a major part of your prayer in Jesus name. Because we all have sin in our lives. Repeat…we ALL have sin in our lives. The Bible says it this way in First John 1:8 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
But, the Bible also says in 1 John 1:6 that, “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet continue to walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.” Many come to church looking for some little prayer hint or little technique to make prayer work better when the greatest hint may be just to get alone by yourself without any distractions and confess known sin to the Lord. And get rid of the bitterness, unforgiveness, addictions, and ask the Lord to change your viewing habits, and your speech patterns, and your lust and your habits, and just ask God to take out the trash in your life, and just become reacquainted with “holiness” (what a strange word that is these days), and just enjoy being clean again. And then your prayer life in Jesus name will grow in power and effectiveness because you and God are walking back in harmony again!
6_ Finally, when you pray in Jesus’ name it means you are standing in His authority. You are praying in His power. This is illustrated in Matthew 8 in the story of the centurion who came to Jesus, pleading with Him, saying “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed and dreadfully tormented.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But then the centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, and I have soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” In verse 10 of Matthew 8 the Bible says when Jesus heard that, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.
You see, this soldier understood authority. This centurion said, “Hey, I’m a pretty powerful guy and when I bark an order, people obey. But when it comes to healing and casting out evil, you are the boss. You have the authority. You actually don’t need to come all the way over to my house to heal my servant. You can say it here and the spiritual forces will jump at your command and my servant will be delivered and healed.” And Jesus marveled and the servant was healed that hour.
And when you pray in Jesus’ name you can see marvelous things happen for God’s glory. This why a little, skinny, weak guy like Barney Fife can flash a badge and people will do what he says. Because he has the authority of the law behind him. And, the name of Jesus is your badge of authority. If someone comes to your house and 3:00 AM and says, “Open up,” you probably won’t answer the door. But if they say “open up in the name of the law” and flash a badge you had better open that door. And in the spiritual realm, the name of Jesus is that badge that opens the door. But only if you possess that badge, and use that badge in the right way.
Let me ask you some questions: 1_ First, do you have Jesus as your mediator? Then you can pray in Jesus’ name. 2_ Second, do you acknowledge your need for an intercessor; for the Lord to redeem your stammering prayer into the right prayer, for the right time, with the right power, for the right things, and for the right results. Then you can pray in Jesus’ name.
3_ Thirdly, do you TRULY believe that He is. And if you truly believe the facts about Jesus, no one could ever keep you from praying in Jesus name. 4_ Fourth, are you standing on God’s 7500 promises in the Bible as you pray in Jesus’ name? Because if you really believe God’s promises no one would be able to keep you from praying in Jesus’ name!
5_ Fifth, are you standing before God in prayer with a pure conscience. Because if you are nursing sin in your heart there is no way under heaven that you are praying in Jesus’ name, you are just saying words. So, repent and ask God to take the trash out of your life and get back on God’s team, and your prayers in Jesus name will be powerful. 6_ And sixth, are you standing in God’s authority as you pray? Because when you pray in Jesus name…that name of Jesus is your badge that opens the doors. How about you? Will you make Jesus your badge of identity and source of power by praying in Jesus’ Name?