Christianity 201

January 24, 2015

Praying In Jesus’ Name

Praying In Jesus Name

Clark Bunch at the blog The Masters Table brought back this topic a few days ago. It may seem elementary to most of us that we pray “in the name of Jesus,” but in a church climate where traditions are often being reconstructed, this review of the basics is needful.

Why Pray In Jesus’ Name?

In the company I keep (Baptist churches in the Southeastern United States) it is a common feature of every pray to end with the words “in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.” Whether you invoke the name of Jesus at the beginning or the end of prayer, it’s probably something you do or have heard done even if you are not fully aware of the reasons behind it. We should address our prayers to the heavenly Father in the name of Jesus, but it is important to understand why and not just keep repeating words because we’re supposed to.

1) God hears and answers prayer. I like to thank God from time to time simply for listening to us when we pray. Jesus himself said that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and further that “no man comes to the Father but by me.” John 14:6 God is infinitely holy (consider these passages in Isaiah and Revelation) and only what it is holy can come into his presence. Our access to God the Father is only through his Son Jesus. We receive the credit for his righteousness, he took the due penalty for our transgression. Jesus is the door, the bridge, the path or whatever analogy you want to use to describe him as the only way we have access to the Father.

2) Jesus is our Great High Priest. Unlike the Levitical priests in the Old Testament, Jesus is continually in the Holy Places. He sits at the Father’s right hand, and is our advocate with the Father. Hebrews 7:25 says he ever lives to make intercession. Look at the High Priestly prayer in John 17. We pray in Jesus’ name, and even when we are not praying he is praying for us!

3) Perhaps the most obvious reason we pray in Jesus’ name is because he told us to. “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14:13 He repeats this instruction in chapters 15 and 16. Anything Jesus says three times…

Jesus stands at the intersection between the old and new covenants, between the Law and the Gospel, between Heaven and Earth, and most importantly between God and man. He is our contact point, our advocate with the Father, and in him our life is hidden. We have been washed in his blood and according to Paul have put on Christ. Praying in Jesus’ name gives us an audience in Heaven.

I really like the simplicity of this approach, but realizing some of you would want to add more, at the blog All About Prayer I located this more detailed listing of the supporting scriptures.

What does it mean to pray in the name of Jesus?

Praying in the name of Jesus is not just a magical incantation that is tacked on to the end of prayers. People end their prayers with “in the name of Jesus” without understanding all that it entails. The word “in” is a preposition of position and it carries with it a doctrinal truth that all believers need to know. The book of Ephesians could be called the “position book” and the word “in” brings our position into focus. This doctrinal truth is called our “ascension privilege” and it is our position in Jesus Christ. Therefore, our standing before God rests in Jesus Christ and praying in the name of Jesus is the way our prayers are heard.

In the name of Jesus, is an acknowledgment of the believer’s position in Jesus Christ and an understanding that our prayers are heard as we approach the throne of grace. It is in obedience to the command of Jesus, for we cannot pray in our own standing but we pray in His. “God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and he gave himself to purchase our freedom” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

Praying in Jesus’ name means praying according to God’s will, “And we can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will. And if we know he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for” (1 John 5:14-15). Praying in Jesus’ name is praying for things that will honor and glorify Jesus.

“You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father. Yes, ask anything in my name, and I will do it!” (John 14:13-14).

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony” (John 17:20).

“For ‘Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Romans 10:13).

“We are writing to the church of God in Corinth, you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did all Christians everywhere–whoever calls upon the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and theirs” (1 Corinthians 1:2).

“And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

“And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).

“Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14).

“I am writing to you, my dear children, because your sins have been forgiven because of Jesus” (1 John 2:12).

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

click the titles of the respective articles to read at source


  1. I have been working the basic outline into a sermon. I am adding Acts 4:12 (there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved) and Philippians 2:10-11 (So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord). Now add a personal anecdote about how “it’s not what you know but who you know” and have your conclusion come full circle to the introduction.

    Comment by Clark Bunch — January 25, 2015 @ 7:07 am | Reply

    • I just totally appreciated being reminded of this. In an environment where much of the formality has been stripped from many church services, really only two things remain, the “words of institution” spoken before the communion elements are passed, and the use of the phrase “in Jesus name we pray” at the end of prayers. Sometimes we just assume that new people know why we say this, but as you and the other author showed, there is strong theological underpinning for doing so.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 25, 2015 @ 1:42 pm | Reply

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