When we pray in Christ’s name, we are saying, “I have no confidence in my own name, my own character, my own merits.” We are saying, “We have complete confidence in Christ’s name to give us access and authority in prayer.” “In Jesus name” is more than a full stop or a comma. It’s a phrase freighted with significance and power.
Jesus said, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14).
That cannot mean that if we attach “in Jesus name” to any prayer request we are guaranteed to get it — it’s not a magic spell.
Neither can it mean that if we neglect to say “in Jesus name” our prayers will not be answered — no prayer in the Bible contains these specific words.
So what does it mean? We use it often enough at the close of most of our prayers, and yet do we know what we’re saying?
1. It is to pray as a believer in Christ’s name
The words immediately preceding the promises in verses 13-14 are addressed to believers:
“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me, or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves” (v. 11)
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also( v. 12).
Jesus gives the promises of verses 13-14 to those who believe in His name, who see His name as the only one under heaven that can save them.
2. It is to pray as someone who honors Christ’s name
The sons of Sceva used Christ’s name without loving Christ’s name. They used it in a careless and irreverent way, and suffered painful and embarrassing consequences (Acts 19:11-20). To me it’s a miracle we don’t see today’s “Prosperity Gospel” preachers stripped bare before their churches as they abuse Christ’ name for their own gain.
Those who truly pray in Christ’s name, count it more valuable and worthy than any other name in the world.
3. It is to pray for what would increase Christ’s fame
“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).
To pray in Christ’s name is to pray for whatever would increase the fame of Christ.
4. It is to pray in communion with Christ
The words that follow the promises of John 14:13-14 describe those who are living in communion with Christ – He in them and they in Him. In the next chapter the need for living communion with Christ is again underlined in connection with prayer:
“If you abide in Me….you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).
5. It is to pray as if Christ was doing the asking
“…if my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).
What’s envisaged here is that Christ’s words have percolated so deeply into the soul, that they become the believers words. The believer is so conditioned and controlled by Christ’s Word that he or she can hardly help but pray Christ’s words back to Him. Praying in Christ’s name is coming to Christ with Christ’s own desires.
6. It is to pray with confidence in Christ’s name
When we pray in Christ’s name, we are saying, “I have no confidence in my own name, my own character, my own merits.” We are saying, “We have complete confidence in Christ’s name to give us access and authority in prayer.”
“In Jesus name” is more than a full stop or a comma. It’s a phrase freighted with significance and power. Let’s use it more knowledgeably, reverently, and confidently.
David Murray is Professor of Old Testament & Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on his blog, Head Heart Hand, and is used with permission.