OPINION. The name of Jesus is powerful and praying though it means we are admitting that there is nothing we can do by ourselves, writes MSGR JOHN WYNAND KATENDE.
The Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name (John 15:16). This assurance has led many to end their prayers with the phrase “In Jesus’ name” or “Through Christ our Lord” before they say “Amen.”
If we think that simply using the phrase is what it means to pray in Jesus’ name, or is some sort of magical formula that ensures God will hear our prayers, then we are wrong.
What Jesus’s name means
In Hebrew, the word ‘name’ means nature, character or essence. When we pray according to the nature of Christ, the Holy Spirit will teach us to pray the way Christ prayed and those prayers receive their fulfilment in God. Prayer becomes a means to connect with the Father, through the Son according to the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit reveals more of Christ to us, we learn to pray and to have Christ’s life formed in us according to the revelation of Scripture, so that our will becomes one with His will.
Praying in the name of Jesus is not just a magical charm that is attached onto the end of prayers. The word ‘in’ is a preposition that carries with it a doctrinal truth that our standing before God rests in Jesus Christ and that praying in the name of Jesus is the way our prayers are heard.
When we pray in Jesus’ name we are admitting the bankruptcy of our own name. By commending that we pray in his name, Jesus has literally given us his name. We identify with the person of Jesus Christ. We submit to His will. We are representing him and his interests here on earth. We pray fervently and persistently with confidence.
Under the authority of Jesus
Praying in Jesus’ name means that we approach God under the authority of Jesus. Because of our sin, no one has standing to speak with God as a personal friend. Only “in Jesus’ name” can anyone bridge the infinite gap between a Holy God and sinful humanity. Though sin once separated us from Him, we have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). Jesus is the only One who intercedes on our behalf before the Father because He is perfect God and perfect man; He is without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
Often, we pray because we want something from God. We ask for physical healing, or a certain job, house, career and the like. But we do not pray according to Christ’s nature and ask to be filled with the love of God or to spread the Gospel. Prayers that ask for things contrary to the will of God will never be answered. Satan often tempts us into making bad prayers and has them answered to distract us from true faith and from the mission that God has for us (Matthew 4:1-10, 26:39).
Jesus taught that only those who know and love Him can have fellowship with the Father through prayer. If we are to pray in Jesus’ name, we must approach God with Jesus’ own values and desires. Jesus always desired to do the will of God. We must set aside times of quiet to attend to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit of Jesus, praying in us (Romans 8:26).
The powerful name of Jesus
Like the Lord’s Prayer, praying in Jesus’ name is not an obligation. However, it may, for example, not apply at an interfaith or civic prayer gathering, when everybody is expected to respond with “Amen”.
The name of Jesus is powerful indeed. We are justified in Jesus’ name. Demons are powerless and are cast out because of his name. Healing occurs in Jesus’ name. Salvation comes in his name. Baptisms are done in Jesus’ name. Christians must, consequently, endeavour to do and say everything in Jesus’ name (Col. 3:17).
The name of Jesus
God placed more than 100 names in the Bible that tell us about Jesus. Take time to ask what the names represent. For instance, why is Jesus called Immanuel, “God with us?” Jesus is often called the Messiah. What does it mean that He is your saviour?