Have you ever wondered why we do some of the things we do? (Why do we… say bless you when someone sneezes? Yell at ballgames? At a concert reply to the person on stage with screams?…)
There’s things in life that we don’t always know why we do them, but we just do. It’s also true with our faith. There are a lot of things we do, and we always have done them, but we probably don’t know why. We’re going to be looking at one of those tonight.
Why do we pray in Jesus’ name?
John 14:13-14 – 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
John 16:24 – 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
What exactly is Jesus saying here? Is he saying that if you add his name to the end of a prayer, like it’s the magic potion that makes your prayer come true? It’s saying the name of Jesus is like rubbing the magic lamp to make the Jesus genie come out to grant you your wishes.
Well, that can’t be what it is meaning. I would be a billionaire, there would be world peace, and my sister would still be alive if that was the case. That’s not what Jesus is saying. We don’t pray in his name as a tack on to get what we want. So, what does he mean?
We’re going to see two things here about Jesus and prayer.
First, we’re going to see that we pray in Jesus’ name, because He has authority.
Tell me what comes next… *sing* “Stop! In the name of _____________.” In the name of love is the phrase. A similar phrase is…if you are running from the cops, they might yell out something… “Stop! In the name of ____________.” In the name of the law. You see, even if you can’t see the officer, the offender understands who is telling them to stop—and by whose authority. This officer is there to enforce the law not under his own authority, but under the authorization of the law and government.
It’s very similar to the experience that Peter and John have before the rulers, elders, and scribes in Jerusalem.
Acts 4:5–10 – 5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.
In the days when powerful people couldn’t send an email or make a phone call, they sent their orders through people who were given the authority to speak in their name. When those ambassadors gave orders, they did so with the authority of the person in charge.
When Jesus gave the disciples the Great Commission, He began by establishing his authority.
Matthew 28:18-20 – “18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Why is it important for Jesus to let the disciples know that universal authority now belongs to Him? Because He has come back from the dead and established that He is God. He’s now transferring that authority to them as they’re being sent around the world to speak on His behalf. They are now ambassadors empowered to speak for Christ (2 Cor 5:20).
But remember, he points out that he has authority on earth and in heaven. And he invites us to use that authority in prayer!
When you need to take out a bank loan but don’t make enough money to be able to pay it all, what do you do? The bank needs to know that you’re going to cover the loan, so they demand a co-signer. This is a person who provides security for the loan in case you can’t pay it back. It’s very similar to the role Jesus plays in our prayers.
I can’t come into God’s throne room and start asking for things based on my own authority and righteousness, but Jesus co-signs my prayers. The authority He’s earned is extended to those He has redeemed. It’s not necessarily something we invoke by saying the words “in Jesus’ name,” but it’s ours through faith when we are His.
Secondly, we pray in Jesus’ name, because we seek his will.
If we are praying in Jesus’ name and not our own, we are ultimately saying what Jesus did when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Matthew 26:39 – “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
Hear what one of Jesus’ disciples, John, had to say about this.
1 John 5:14-15 – “14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
Praying in Jesus’ name is praying for things that will honor and glorify Jesus. It’s praying for what He Himself would ask for.
I don’t say to someone, in the name of Sara, my wife, will you dispose of all chocolate in the world? Even if she had authority to do that, I would not say that. Why? Because that is completely against her will!
Saying “in Jesus’ name” at the end of a prayer is not a magic formula. If what we ask for or say in prayer is not for God’s glory and according to His will, saying “in Jesus’ name” is meaningless. Genuinely praying in Jesus’ name and for His glory is what is important. It is not the words in the prayer that matter, but the purpose behind the prayer. Praying for things that are in agreement with God’s will and with the authority that only Christ has is what it means to pray in Jesus’ name.
Much of this came from two sources: