When I was a teenager, I remember my brother suggesting to me that if I asked for something in Jesus’ name, it would be given to me. My eldest brother was schooled in theology and regularly attended church and youth group activities. I believed what he told me but didn’t quite understand.
At first, I kind of thought it was like finding a genie’s lamp. You had to rub it firmly before the genie would appear. I thought that asking for something in Jesus’ name was similar to rubbing the lamp. It was a pre-requisite required for my Lord to hear my prayer.
However, as I learned more about my faith this youthful misunderstanding was replaced with a more ritualistic assumption. I heard other people ending their prayers, “In Jesus’ name” and assumed this was to announce the ending of the prayer – something like “Amen.”
But again, I was wrong. More recently, I have learned the significance of saying, “In Jesus’ name” at the end of my prayers. In Hebrew, a person’s name depicted the whole character of the individual. So to pray in Jesus’ name, suggests that I pray within the character of God. I pray that the Lord hears me, not because of me, but because of Jesus. It suggests that I am in agreement with the Spirit of Christ. I am a Christian.
In further study, I learned that the word “Christian” derives from the Greek work christianos, which means “belonging to Christ” like a slave, or “of Christ’s family” like a sibling. In the Bible study, “The Coach in Your Corner” it reads, “In the Roman Empire there were slaves who were so trusted that they were empowered to act legally in business in the name of their masters.” This might give us insight about praying in the name of Jesus. As a Christian, we belong to Christ and so as His slave we can represent Jesus just as Joseph the slave represented his master Potipher in Egypt. Paul starts his letter to the Romans with, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1 NIV) and James starts his letter to Jewish Christians with, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1 NIV.)
When we say, “In Jesus’ name” it is as if Jesus Himself said it. When we pray in Jesus’ name, we pray in the Spirit and our wishes and God’s wishes are the same, so that we only pray and ask for what it is that God desires to give us, which of course is the very best for us. It is not part of a superstition or an ending to be tacked on to a prayer. As His servants, God tells us to pray in His will for us and in His oneness He will give us what we ask.
“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16:24 NIV.)