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 Praying in Jesus' Name

John Hoole September 05, 2004



One of the most incredible things in the Bible are the promises made to those who will pray. Both Old and New Testaments abound in examples of answers to prayers. Deliverance and help, guidance and grace were assured to those who called upon God and committed their way unto Him. Nothing was too hard for the Lord, and, thus, nothing was impossible to those who prayed.

Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV

3 'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'

There is no limit to the possibilities of prayer, and the Old Testament confirms and promises a demonstration of God's power. A few chapters earlier, in Jeremiah 29:12-13, (NKJV) we read:

12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

The same demonstration of God's power is promised in the New Testament.

Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV

7. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

But, when we research prayer in the New Testament, we find instructions that God's people were to pray in a new way.

CAN YOU THINK OF WAYS IN WHICH PRAYER IS DIFFERENT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT WHEN COMPARRED TO THE OLD TESTAMENT?

A moment ago we read from Matthew 7:7-8 about asking, seeking and knocking. Three verses later we find these words:

Matthew 7:11 NKJV

11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Jesus was giving us a new basis for praying - a new confidence. In what we have just read, He emphasizes that God is our heavenly Father, and prayer is the child's petitions of their Father.

Another major change is Emphasized by Christ late in his earthly ministry. The promises He attaches to one's prayers reach a climax in the Upper Room (Luke 22:12). Here is a picture of what is believed to be the Upper Room mentioned in Acts 1 when the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 that were praying there. We don't know if this Upper Room is the same at that mentioned in Luke 22. Here we have Jesus observing the last supper on the very night of his betrayal. After Judas has left the group, and they have finished partaking in the Lord's Supper, Jesus teaches they some very important things.

As we read in John 14, He begins this time of teaching by telling them that He was about to leave them. But, to comfort them, He tells them He is going to prepare a place for them, and will be returning to them some day. And He end this time with them by praying for them (John 17). Between telling his followers that He was about to leave them and praying for them, Jesus instructs them to pray in a new way. In John 14:13-14 (NKJV), we read;

13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

Did you notice the difference? Christ declares Himself to be the basis of their prayers. When they came to the Father, as one of his children, they were to pray in Christ's name, and they would be heard for His sake, not our own.

Just as there are "7 last words" of Jesus while on the Cross, there are also 7 words, or instructions, concerning prayer spoken by Christ during their fellowship in the Upper Room. In six of those words concerning prayer, Jesus tells them to pray in his name. Two of those statements were in the verses we just read a moment ago. Let's read them again.

In John 14:13-14 (NKJV), we read

13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

John 15:7 NKJV

7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

This time, as Jesus mentions prayer, He doesn't speak of praying in Jesus name. But I hope before today is over, you will see that it means the same thing. He says, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you," Let's read the rest of the 7 statements.

John 15:16 NKJV

16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

John 16:22-26NKJV

22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.
23 And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.
24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
25 These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father.
26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you;

These are extraordinary promises for those who pray in the name of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Prayer reaches its highest when offered in the Name which is above every name. We must identify with the Son when we come to the Father.

"Whatever you ask the Father in My name, I will do it." Our problem is not with the promise but with the condition. Just what does it mean to "pray in Jesus' name?"

First of all, I think it would be good to start our answer to this question by answering what praying in Jesus' name does NOT mean. I will tell you right up front that I believe it means much more than we have assumed. In our tradition, praying in Jesus' name refers to a certain formula we add at the end of our prayers. Have you ever listened to someone pray and they didn't use that phrase at the end, and you wondered if they were really finished. We are so used to hearing "in Jesus' name, Amen," that we feel uncomfortable if we don't hear it when someone prays. It feels a little awkward. Or have you listened to someone pray, and they used the phrase "in the name of Jesus," and you thought they were about finished, but they kept on praying? We sense that the prayer is a bit "illegal" if it doesn't end the way we think it should.

One part of that insight is absolutely correct. True Christian praying is always "in the name of Jesus." We do not have access to the Father except through our Savior. So there is a sense in which every prayer we pray should be offered in the name of Jesus.

But that still doesn't tell us what it means to pray "in Jesus name." Prayer in Jesus' name means more than simply adding a phrase at the end of your prayers like would write, "Sincerely" at the end of every letter. No. That cannot be it. For one thing, if that is all it means to us, then the holy name of Jesus becomes nothing but vain repetition.

Here is a bit of biblical trivia. Go back and read all the prayers in the New Testament. Not a single one ends with the phrase "in Jesus' name, Amen." And yet, surely those prayers that are recorded were being offered appropriately. That tells me that offering a prayer in Jesus' name probably means something different that using it as a formula to end a prayer. For many of us "in Jesus' name, Amen" means that the prayer is almost over and we can now go on to something else, or we can begin eating our meal.

Am I saying it is wrong to pray that way. No, as long as we remember what it really means to pray in Jesus' name. So, what does it really mean? In order to get to the bottom of praying in the name of Jesus, we need to consider three things.

1. The biblical concept of a name

2. The importance of God's name

3. What it means to act in someone else's name.

Then we will be ready to look at praying in Jesus' name.

1. The biblical concept of a person's name

It will help us to spend a few moment 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 Mike or Bob or Bill, or Jane or Carol or Judy or Cathy. But those names don't automatically convey any particular message about who you are.

But it was very different in Bible times. A name in the Bible was much more than identified a specific person, and distinguished him or her from other people.

WHAT IS THERE ABOUT NAMES IN THE BIBLE THAT IS DIFFERENT THAN TODAY?

This first point about the biblical concept of a person's name can be further broken down into at least three thoughts. Some of these are not completely different than what we see in a name today. But some of them are.

A. Names in the Bible often represent the character, personality, origin or destiny of different people.

FOR INSTANCE, WHAT DOES THE NAME JACOB MEAN?

Actually, the name Jacob has several meanings. Probably the most common definitions is "cheater, deceiver, supplanter (usurper), claim-jumper."

o He usurped his brother's birthright (Genesis 25:29-34).

o He cheated in gaining his father's blessing (Genesis 27:1-29).

o He conned his father-in-law out of flocks and herds (Genesis 30:25-43, 31:1).

But in the Bible the name "Jacob" also means "heel-catcher" (Genesis 25:26, Hosea 12:2-4). So, we have Jacob meaning "deceiver. When Jacob's name was changed to Israel, it meant "God's fighter." Nabal means "fool." Abraham means "father of many." Daniel means "God is my Judge." Peter means "rock." Nathaniel means "God has given."

WHAT ABOUT THE NAME LORD JESUS CHRIST?

WHAT DOES THAT NAME MEAN?

Before going further in this definition, let me ask an additional question. HOW MAY OF YOU KNOW WHAT AN "ICHTHUS" IS?

An ichthus is the symbol of a fish with 5 Greek letters inside its body. Those five Greek letters spell the acronym ICHTHUS. The 5 Greek letters are: Iota, Chi, Theta, Upsilon and Sigma. The reason I call it an acronym is because each of these 5 letters is the first letter of 5 Greek words which refer to Christ.

o Iota - I - Iesos - Jesus

o Chi - CH - Christos - Christ

o Theta - TH - Theou - God

o Upsilon - U - Uios - Son

o Sigma - S - Soter - Savior

Together, ICHTHUS represents: Jesus Christ God's Son & Savior. It is also true that ICHTHUS is not just an acronym. ICHTHUS is also an actual Greek word, meaning "fish."

Now, back to the meaning of "Lord Jesus Christ."

Lord means "master."
Jesus means "Savior."
Christ means "Anoint One sent from God."

In biblical times, names had greater meanings than they may have now. 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.

B. Names in the Bible also represent authority

Do you remember the old crime movies where the police officers knock on the door and say, "Open up in the name of the law." Why did they say that? Because the individual officer had no authority in themselves, nor were they an authority to themselves. By making that statement, they were claiming the full authority of the U.S. government. The authority of that government stood behind the police officers and backed them up.

In the Bible, we see this principle at work in the great confrontation between David and Goliath. Just before the battle between these two begins, David boldly tells Goliath where his power is coming from.

1 Samuel 17:45 NKJV

45 Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

David was saying to Goliath, "I'm not impressed with your weapons or your great size. The Lord God is on my side and he's about to lay your body down on the ground." And that's exactly what happened. David claimed God's authority on his side, and armed with God plus smooth stones, he killed the mighty Goliath.

So, a name in the Bible represented

o a person's character and personality

o a person's authority

C. Names in the Bible also represent a person's reputation

While the name "Bill" might not speak today of a persons personality or authority, it can represent a person's reputation. This is especially true when you add a last name. When I mention Bill Dolleman, you visualize the kind of person he is. If I were to change that to Bill Gates, another image comes to mind and this person has a different reputation. Names like Al Capone, Donald Trump, Billy Graham brings to mind the reputation of each of these men. These names also help us understand the value of a good name.

Proverbs 22:1 NKJV

1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.

Ecclesiastes 7:1 NKJV

1 A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one's birth;

Besides a man's soul, this may be the most important possession a man has. We should cherish a good name because it refers to virtue and integrity. It must be nurtured and respected as a very precious possession.

So, as I said earlier, the concept of a name in scriptures involves much more than a tag that identifies a person. Although it does do that, it also has a much deeper meaning. A person's name in Scripture represents the very essence of the person. That person's personality, reputation and authority are all wrapped up in his name.

This is also very true in reference to the name of the Lord. So, to pray in Jesus' name is to pray based on who He is, and with His authority, in order that His reputation might be enhanced in the world.

2. The importance of God's Name

The next thing we need to come to grips with, as it relates to praying in Jesus' name, is to understand the importance of God's name. Consider these verses:

Psalms 8:1 NKJV

1 O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens!

Psalms 103:1 NKJV

Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Psalms 113:1-3 NKJV

1 Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD!
2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forevermore!
3 From the rising of the sun to its going down the LORD's name is to be praised.

Psalms 148:13 NKJV

13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven.

Because God's name is excellent, we are to exalt it in our prayer and in our praise. The very first petition of the Lord's Prayer, which Jesus taught us, is "Hallowed be thy 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.

In the Scriptures, we find dozens of passages exalting God's name . God's name is a declaration of the greatness of His person. One day every knee shall bow at the feet of Jesus (Romans 14:11). WHY? Philippians 2 helps answer that question.

Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV

9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

It is because of His great exalted name that people will bring their praise and worship.

3. Acting in the name of another

So now we understand the importance of a name in scripture. We also know that God's name is exalted above all other names.

NOW, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DO SOMETHING IN THE NAME OF SOMEONE ELSE?

Doing something in the name of another has two implication:

1. You come by the authority of the other person.

2. You come in the other person's place.

Let's look at these two thoughts. First, you come by the authority of the other person. You are not coming in your own authority. Someone else has authorized you to take these actions.

"In Jesus' name" is ambassador language. You are representing Jesus Christ as His ambassador. It implies that:

1. I have a relationship with Jesus.

2. I am acting as His representative on His behalf.

3. and that what I am asking for is truly the desire of Jesus (1 John 5:14).

If these things are true, then I believe God will grant the request.

Earlier, I mentioned David coming against Goliath. David was not coming in his own power or authority but in that which belonged to God alone. This gave David the authority and ability to fight against the giant, and win.

Secondly, when you come in someone's name, you come in their stead. The person to whom you are going is expected to react to you, not on the basis of who you are, but as if the person who sent you was there themselves. They are to treat you as they would treat the one who authorized you to come.

In 1 Samuel 25:9, David sent servants to Nabal to ask for food. It says, "they spoke to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David." So when Nabal insulted David's servants - who came in David's name, he insulted David just as directly as if he had spoken to him to his face.

To pray then in the name of Christ is to pray on the ground, not on my credit, but His. That means I need to renounce any thought that I have any claim on God whatever, and approach Him on the ground of God's claims.

Praying in the name of Christ is not merely adding the phrase "I ask these things in Jesus' name," to my prayer. It is possible to put that phrase in my prayer and really be resting in my own merit all the time. But when I really do approach God, not on the ground of my merit, but on the ground of Christ's merit, not on the ground of my goodness, but on the ground of His atoning blood (Hebrews 10:19), then God will hear me!

Let's summarize what we have learned thus far.

1. The biblical concept of a name includes:
a. person's character and personality
b. their authority
c. and reputation.

2. The name of God is very important and should be hallowed

3. When you act in the name of another person,..

a. You come in the authority of that person
b. You come in the other person's place

Now, let's see how all this applies to praying in the name of Jesus.

WITH WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED THUS FAR, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO PRAY IN JESUS' NAME?

I want to share with you six answers to that question.

1. When you pray in Jesus' name, you are confessing your faith that Jesus Christ is the only way to God.

It means that you come to the Father with the knowledge that your only right in approaching Him is that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and that He Himself has sent you to the Father. It means that you know that you are totally unworthy of receiving anything from God, and that the only reason God should grant your requests is that you come in Jesus' name. It is not a magic formula but a heart attitude.

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. By the offering of his own body, he has made a way past the veil into the throne room of God. In the Old Testament a thick curtain separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. The High Priest, and only he, could enter the Most Holy Place (the Holy of Holies), and he could do that only on one day a year on the Day of Atonement.

That thick curtain constantly reminded the people that they could not approach God directly but only through the high priestly mediator. But now, in the death of Jesus Christ, the thick curtain has been torn asunder, and there is no longer a separation between us and the Most Holy Place. Christ has entered God's presence, and because we are united with him by faith, wherever he goes, we go with him.

It is precisely in this sense that every Christian prayer is offered in Jesus' name for it is only by virtue of what Jesus has accomplished that any of us may come into the presence of God. To approach God apart from Jesus Christ is to guarantee that we will be turned away. You may pray in the name of Krishna, Buddha or Confucius, or you may claim that your faith in Mohammed somehow ensures that God will hear you. You may come to God in the name of Joseph Smith or Mary Baker Eddy or Sun Myung Moon, but it will do you no good. 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 Timothy 2:5). If you do not come to God through him, you cannot come at all.

Rather than waiting to add the words "in Jesus' name" to the end of our prayer, maybe it would be well to begin our prayers in that manner. Sometimes in my private prayers, I say something like this: "Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son and my Savior. I claim no merit of my own and I acknowledge that I cannot stand in your presence apart from the merits of my Redeemer who shed his blood for me. I claim nothing but the blood of Jesus as the ground for my prayer to you." By starting a prayer this way, you are establishing up front the fact that it is only by virtue of Jesus Christ that you are able to pray at all.

2. When you pray in Jesus' name, you are acknowledging that his name is the supreme name in the universe.

Philippians 2:9-11 (NKJV) is very clear on this point: We read these verses earlier - let's read them again.

9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

How important is the name of Jesus? By virtue of his victorious resurrection and ascension into heaven, God has exalted him to the very highest place in the universe. He has the greatest name in the universe. No one can be compared to him. He is Number One and there is no Number Two. It's not as if Jesus is at the top of the heap and everyone else is at the bottom. No! He stand alone. He is a category unto himself. His name is the greatest name of all.

3. When you pray in Jesus' name, you are admitting there is no power to answer your prayers in any other name, including your own.

After all, if you could answer your own prayers, why bother praying at all? 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."

When we respond to the command to pray in Jesus' name, we are admitting the utter bankruptcy of our own name. We are renouncing our own worth and merit at the throne of Grace. Doctor Tony Evans, noted pastor, author, and radio speaker from Dallas, was asked to give the opening prayer for the Texas State Legislature in Austin. Before he prayed, he was asked not to mention the name of Jesus, because it might offend the non-Christians who were in attendance.

Dr. Evans replied that when he prayed to God, he was praying to Jesus and in Jesus' name because Jesus Christ is indeed God incarnate. He also pointed out that he was about to ask God to do some specific things in the legislature and in the state of Texas. He asked, "Who's gonna answer that prayer if I don't pray in Jesus name? He's the only One with the power to do what I ask." Tony Evans was exactly right. If we don't pray in the name of Jesus, why bother praying at all?

He who rejects the Father's Son has no access to the Father, and the prayers uttered will not be answered. Our prayers cannot find their way to the Father except we come to Him through Christ. Deny the Son, and we have denied the Father.

Ephesians 2:18 NKJV

18 For through Him (through Jesus Christ) we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

In all my prayers, I try to say, "in Jesus name." However, I know the phrase means nothing without the proper heart attitude. I am nothing, therefore, who I am makes no difference. But when I come in the name of Jesus, that is authority and that is power.

If you were to go to Chicago and visit the United Center, where the Chicago Bulls play basketball, you would see, near the north entrance, an inspiring bronze recreation of Michael Jordan dunking the ball over several defenders. As you study it, he seems almost like a Greek god suspended in mid-air. Around the base of the statue, MJ's many basketball achievements are engraved in stone. As you walk up to the statue, the caption at the bottom reads, simply, "The greatest there ever was. The greatest there ever will be."

But as magnificent as Michael Jordan was, he has already retired from basketball. Who's to say that someone won't come along in a few years to shatter the records he set? Human heroes come and go, .but only one name lives on forever. Ten thousand times ten thousand years from now, the greatest name in the universe will still be the name of Jesus Christ.

A name stands for the total character and resources of an individual. My name is all that I am - your name is all that you are. Whatever you are, that is what your name means to others.

When Paula took my name in marriage, she literally took me for all I had. It wasn't much, but it was all I had. Whenever I sign my name, "John E. Hoole," the whole Hoole fortune - all $35 of it - is laid on the line. If, for example, I should go to U.S. Bank and present a check which I had signed for $10,000, the teller would say to me, "I'm sorry, Mr. Hoole, we cannot cash that check, you don't have that much money in your account." But if I should go to the same bank with a $10,000 check made payable to me from Boeing, they would not ask whether I had money in that bank or in any bank. They would honor the check at once.

It is like going to the bank of Heaven when I go to God in prayer. I have absolutely no credit there and I cannot go in my own name. But, Jesus Christ has unlimited credit in Heaven, and He has granted to me and you the privilege of going to the bank with His name on our checks.

To pray, then, in the name of Christ, is to pray on the ground not of my own credit - but His. And it is to renounce any thought I have any claims on God whatsoever, but to approach Him on the grounds of Christ's claims.

So, when you pray in Jesus name,

1. You are confessing your faith that Jesus Christ is the only way to God.

2. You are acknowledging that His name is the supreme name in the universe.

3. You are admitting there is no power to answer your prayers in any other name, including your own.

4. When you pray in Jesus' name, you are submitting your will to his will because he knows what is best.

At the beginning of our lesson today, we read the promises Jesus gave in the Upper Room, if we were to pray in His name. A few hours after those words, we find Him agonizing in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Three times he prayed that the cup of suffering might be removed from him. Three times God said "no." Each time the Lord submitted by saying, "not my will but yours be done." If Jesus had to pray this way,.how much more do we?

Sometimes our prayers are like little children rushing in to see their father. "Daddy, gimme, gimme, gimme!" And we wonder why our prayers seem to have so little effect. To pray in Jesus name means that you submit your will to the will of Christ in the same manner as Christ submitted his will to His Heavenly Father. After pouring out our hearts to God, we should say, "LORD Jesus, I want what you want."

5. When you pray in Jesus' name, you are asking that God's reputation be enhanced through the answer to your prayer.

John 14:13 (NKJV) very clearly says:

13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

We need to ask ourselves, "Is the answer I am seeking going to glorify God?" Our chief end is to glorify God. Jesus taught His disciples that the requests made in His name would be fulfilled so that "The Father will be glorified in the Son." When that is our primary concern, we can be confident that He will answer our prayers according to his perfect will.

The bottom-line purpose of all our prayers should be to bring glory to the Father. After all, that is why Jesus came to the earth. That same night in the upper room, knowing that His death was less than 24 hours away, Jesus prayed this way: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you." (John 17:1) Jesus came to glorify God in his obedient life, his sacrificial death, and his victorious resurrection.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GLORIFY GOD?

To glorify God means many things, not the least of which is to enhance God's reputation in the world. When we pray, we should be able to pose ourselves this question, "Does what I am asking for only serve to make me happy and ease my pain, or is the basis of my request so that God's glory may be enhanced?" Am I willing to say, "If what I am asking does not bring glory to God, I will be willing to withdraw my request?" When the uppermost reason for our prayer is that God's name is exalted and enhanced in the world, then you can be assured our requests will be answered. To say that is to say that we should seek first the kingdom of God, knowing that when we do, everything else we need will be given to us (Matthew 6:33). When we truly want to glorify him, we can rest easy knowing that the "details" of life that consume us will be taken care of by our Heavenly Father.

6. When you pray in Jesus' name, you are asking that everything you ask for be consistent with God's character, God's will, and God's Word.

There have, over the year, been a number of methods offered to explain God's plan of salvation. One of those is called the Roman Road. These are a sequence of Scriptures from the Book of Romans, and the first step is taken from Romans 3:10, which says "There is none righteous, no not one." The last step in the Roman Road is found in Romans 10:13, which tells us "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." And, indeed, millions of people are going to heaven because they called upon Jesus to save them, and they have found that the Lord was as good as his word.

But this is more than a salvation verse. It is an invocation and an invitation to participate in truly Christian prayer. Calling on the name of the Lord means asking for that which is consistent with all that Jesus is, all that he say, and all that he wants to accomplish in the world.

We can say 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 use God's name in vain in Jesus' name.

You cannot ask God to bless your rage in Jesus' name.

To make myself clear, you can utter the words "in Jesus' name" and then add them to any prayer you like, but if your prayer is not consistent with God's character, God's will, and God's Word, you are not really praying "in Jesus' name" no matter what words you use.

Let's come to the bottom line. To pray in Jesus' name means to pray with his authority, according to His will, with His approval, consistent with who He is. Since that may sound a bit academic and perhaps is hard to apply, there is a simpler way to say it. To pray in Jesus' name is to pray exactly what Jesus would pray in any particular situation.

Our Lord never explained what was meant by praying "in His name." The meaning was plain enough to every Israelite. The very person of God was in His name. He had made them an elect people, that they might be interpreters, custodians and witnesses of His name. When they dishonored the name of God in their own land, and degraded it among the Gentiles, we are told that God restored them and redeemed them for His name's sake.

Ezekiel 36:22-23 NIV

22 Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone.
23 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.

To pray in Christ's name means something more than adding "for Christ's sake, Amen" to the end of our petitions. The name expresses God's personality, character, and being. The person of God is in His name. Prayer in Christ's name is prayer according to the character of His mind, and according to the purpose of His will. To pray in the name of Christ is to pray as one who has the same purpose as Christ.

Our prayer is tested in the Name. Our motives are judged by the Name. Prayer is proved in the Name. Prayer is sanctified in the Name. Prayer is indorsed by the Name, when it is in harmony with the character, mind, desire and purpose of the Name. Prayers offered in the name of Christ are scrutinized and sanctified by His nature, His purpose, and His will. They are indorsed by Him.

We are not heard for our much loud shouting. Neither are we heard for our fine phrasing. And we are not heard because of our much weeping. Neither are we heard for our good works, nor for our self-denials. Prayer in the name of Jesus is heard for His name's sake.

In the sacred chambers we ask, seek, and knock in His holy name, presenting our prayers in the sure confidence of His wonderful and glorious Word, which say, "You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, He will give it to you." "Ask, and ye shall receive."

It's time to wrap up this lesson. Before we do, let's think about what this means in a practical sense. What is the use to be made of Jesus' name? If we really understand what it really means, this truth should do at least five things for us.

1. It should fill our prayers with praise.

Instead of always praying "gimme" prayers (which, by the way, are not wrong in themselves), we should focus on praise and thanksgiving to God. Why? Because through Christ we have access to the throne room of the universe. By grace, and grace alone, we have been brought into God's presence. If that doesn't make us grateful when we pray, we need to go back and think about it some more.

2. It should drive us back to the Word

After all, where will we learn who Christ is and what he wants to do if not in the written Word of God? Without exception, the greatest pray-ers are always men and women who know the Word of God. Fill your heart with God's Word and your prayers will soon reflect God's priorities.

Isn't this the true meaning of Psalm 37:4? Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Do you want Him to give you the desires of your heart? Of course! It comes by delighting in your Lord.

3. It should deepen our sense of total dependence on Christ

We pray in Jesus' name precisely because our name carries no weight with the Almighty. On our own, we stand before God wrapped in the filthy rags of our own self-righteousness. If we come to God that way, our prayers won't get past the front door of heaven. It is good to remember that apart from God, there is nothing good in any of us to commend ourselves to God. Only in Christ do we have any merit at all. And even that is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God lest anyone should boast.

4. It should cause us to ask, "Lord, what do you want to do in this situation?"

I find this the most personally challenging application. Sometimes (all to often, I fear) I rush into God's presence as if I have all the answers. I have my list and I want to deliver it quickly and get on with my day. But most human situations are very confusing and we can't be sure what the Lord want to do. Here I am not speaking about praying that a lost person will be saved (See 2 Peter 3:9) Rather, I am speaking about such things as seeking a new job, buying a new house, making business decisions, and deciding where to go to college. Matters such as these occupy a huge percentage of each day, and if we are honest, we must say that often we simply don't know what God's will is. Perhaps we would be better off to ask the Lord to show us what he wants to do. And then pray that his will might be done in your life.

5. It should cause us to pray more for God's glory and less for our own gratification.

In this we have the Lord's Prayer as a good model. In this well-known prayer, we find 6 petitions. The first 3 deal with the Father - His name, His kingdom, and His will. The last 3 deal with our needs - our provision, our pardon, and our protection.

It is never wrong to pray for our own needs, but if we follow the Lord's Prayer, we will begin our prayers with a focus on God and his glory. And that focus will help put our own needs - which are very legitimate into the proper perspective.

CONCLUSION

We have focused in this lesson on Praying in the Name of Jesus. But, the fact of the matter is, we do other things in the Name of our Lord as well.

1. We gather as a church in His name (Matthew 18:20).

2. We baptize in His name (Matthew 28:19; Acts 19:5).

3. Healing is accomplished in His name (Acts 3:6, 16).

4. Preaching is done in His name (Acts 4:17-18).

5. Total redemption is in His name (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Colossians 3:17 (NKJV) sums up the scope of what we are to do in His name.

17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

The phrase "in Jesus' name" is not a rabbits foot, magic formula, or any other such thing. To pray in Jesus' Name is more than a declaration from our lips. It is a disposition of the heart.

In Acts 3, we find Peter and John going to the temple to pray at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Outside the gate called Beautiful, they are confronted by a lame man asking for alms. Then in Verse 6 (NKJV), we read, Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." When the crowd saw this man walking and leaping and praising God, they knew it was the one who sat at the Temple Gate (verse 10). People came running to see what had happened (verse 11). Peter took this as an occasion to speak to the people.

Acts 3:12-16 NKJV

12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?
13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go.
14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,
15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.
16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

In Acts 4, we find Peter and John arrested and put in prison. What is it that makes the Sanhedrin so nervous? For one thing, we are told, in verse 4, that about 5,000 men were converted. In verse 7 (NKJV), we find these words from the priests: "By what power or by what name have you done this?"

Here we have two fishermen from the hill country up north, who didn't have the education that these religious leaders had. They never filled out a doctrinal questionnaire. They didn't talk to the religious leaders before they beginning their ministry. The only credentials they have to offer at this moment would be the well-known paralytic who had never walked in his approximately 40-years.

In Acts 4:8-12 (NKJV), we find Peter's response.

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:
9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, and by what means he has been made well,
10 let it be known to you all, 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 stands here before you whole.
11 This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'
12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Maybe it wasn't Peter and John that made them nervous. Rather, they noted that these men had been with someone.

Acts 4:13 NIV

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

It was obvious that these men had been with Jesus.

Jesus has given us the power in His name just as was in the apostles. In whose name do we find salvation? In whose name do we offer salvation? In whose name do we offer healing, mercy, service and aid? So we act and speak in the name of Jesus as plainly as Peter and John did? Do we speak the name of Jesus as if He is still able to speak and act for himself? Or do we get distracted by the reputation and influence of our own name?

Closing

There is a clear gospel call that should be made. If you need to be saved, I know a name that can save you. If you want to be forgiven, I know a name that can wash away all your sins. If you want a new life, I know a name that can give you new life right here and now. If you want to go to heaven when you die, I know a name that can give you peace when you sleep tonight, and take you to heaven when you die.

That name is the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Call upon His name and you will be saved. Run to the cross. Lay your sins on Jesus. Cry out to him with all your heart. Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

There is no name like the name of Jesus. It is the name that is above every other name. One day all creation will bow down before that great name. And, today, in that name, we may bring our requests to God, knowing that whatever we ask in his name, he will do it for us. That is the promise of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He always keeps His promises.

   
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Last Updated: Thursday September 08 2011
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