John 14:13, 14
“In Jesus’ name, Amen.” These words of
Jesus contain a remarkable promise. They tell
us that whatever we ask—anything at all—
if we ask it in the name of Jesus, He will do
it for us. It would be hard to find a promise
broader than that. “Whatever you ask . . . in
my name . . . I will do it.”
Our problem is not with the promise but
with the condition. What does it mean to pray
“in Jesus’ name?” Praying in Jesus’ name refers
to a certain formula we add at the end of
our prayers. So there is a sense in which every
prayer we pray should always be offered
in the name of Jesus.
But that still doesn’t tell us what it means
to pray “in Jesus’ name.” Perhaps the best
way to attack that question is to consider first
what it doesn’t mean.
I. What it doesn’t mean
Praying in Jesus’ name means more than
simply adding a phrase to the end of a prayer.
Here’s a bit of Bible trivia that may surprise
you. Go back and read all the prayers in the
New Testament. Not a single one ends with
the phrase “in Jesus’ name, Amen.” Yet surely
those prayers were being offered according
to the promise of this text. That tells us that
this promise deals with much more than saying
a few words and then saying Amen.
II. The importance of names in the
Let’s spend a few moments thinking
about the meaning of names in the Bible. In
our day, names don’t have an intrinsic meaning.
You might be Joe or Jack or Mary or
Susan, but those names don’t automatically
convey any particular message about who
you are. But it was different in Bible times.
First, names in the Bible often represent
the character, personality, origin, or destiny of
different people. Jacob means cheater, Nabal
means fool, and Peter means rock. What
about the name of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Lord means Master, Jesus means Savior, and
Christ means the Anointed One sent from God.
When you call out to the Lord Jesus Christ,
you are declaring that He is your Master, your
Savior, and the Anointed One sent from God.
Second, names also represent authority. We see this principle at work in the great confrontation between David and Goliath. Just before the battle begins, David boldly tells Goliath where his power is coming from (1 Sam. 17:45).
Third, names represent a person’s reputation.
We see this clearly in reference to the
name of the Lord. The very first petition of the
Lord’s Prayer is “Hallowed be your name.” To
“hallow” something is to treat it as being of
great worth. You hallow God’s name when
you treat it with the respect it deserves.
To pray in Jesus’ name is to pray based
on who He is, with His authority, in order
that His reputation might be enhanced in the
III. Praying “in Jesus’ name”
What does it mean to pray “in Jesus’ name”? Here are six answers to that question.
A. When you pray in Jesus’ name, you are confessing your faith that Jesus Christ is the only way to God. Hebrews 10:19-20 tells us that we now have confidence (the Greek word means “boldness” or “freedom”) to come into the very presence of God by virtue of the blood of Jesus. The only One who can bring you into God’s presence is the Lord Jesus Christ. “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). If you do not come to God through Him, you cannot come at all.
B. When you pray in Jesus’ name, you are acknowledging that His name is the supreme name in the universe (Phil. 2:9-11). By virtue of His victorious resurrection and ascension into heaven, God has exalted Jesus to the very highest place in the universe. He has the greatest name in the universe.
C. When you pray in Jesus’ name, you are admitting that there is no power to answer your prayers in any other name, including your own. The whole point of prayer is to admit our total dependence on God. And we come to God in Jesus’ name because “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
D. When you pray in Jesus’ name, you are asking that God’s reputation be enhanced through the answer to your prayer (John 14:13). The purpose of our prayers should be to bring glory to the Father. After all, this is why Jesus came to the earth (John 17:1). Jesus came to glorify God through His obedient life, His sacrificial death, and His victorious resurrection. To glorify God means many things, not the least of which is to enhance God’s reputation in the world. When our requests will glorify God, we may be sure that they will be answered.
E. When you pray in Jesus’ name, you
are asking that everything you ask for be consistent
with God’s character, will, and Word
(Rom. 10:13). Calling on the name of the
Lord means asking for that which is consistent
with all that Jesus is, all that He says, and
all that He wants to accomplish in the world.
Think of it this way: You cannot lie or steal
in Jesus’ name. You cannot ask God to bless
adultery in Jesus’ name. You cannot ask God
to bless your sin in Jesus’ name. You cannot
swear in Jesus’ name. You cannot ask God to
bless your anger in Jesus’ name.
What difference should it make to pray in
Jesus’ name? It should deepen our sense of
total dependence on Christ. We pray in Jesus’
name precisely because our own name carries
no weight with the Almighty. On our own,
we stand before God wrapped in the filthy
rags of our own self-righteousness.
Finally, there is a clear gospel call that
should be made. If you need to be saved, I
know the name of the One who can save you.
If you want to be forgiven, I know a name that
can wash away your sins. If you want a new
life, I know a name that can give you new life
here and now.
There is no name like the name of Jesus.
It is the only name “by which we must
be saved” (Acts 4:12). It is the name that is
above every other name. One day all creation
will bow down before that great name. And in
that name we may bring our requests to God,
knowing that whatever we ask in His name,
He will do for us. This is the promise of the
Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.