“In Jesus’ Name, Amen”
Ending a prayer with the words “in Jesus’ name” has become common practice in most evangelical circles. But have you ever thought about why it’s done or what it means? Or maybe you’ve read John 14:13 and wondered why prayers prayed ‘in Jesus’ name’ seem to go unanswered?
Why We Pray in Jesus’ Name
This practice comes from John 14:12-14 where Jesus says, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” This is an incredible statement. Whatever we pray in Jesus’ name He will do. Sometimes people assume this means that God will give you whatever you want if you pray the right way. In reality though, most of us know from experience that that isn’t quite how it works. Our prayers don’t all get answered the way we hope—even if we end them saying “in Jesus’ name.” God doesn’t work that way.
If a simple formula was all it took to get whatever you wanted then Jesus would be more like a genie than God, granting whatever wish entered your fancy. In reality though, there are no magic words, party tricks or loopholes to manipulate God into giving us exactly what we ask for. This is actually a good thing. After all, God knows what we need better than we do ourselves. He’s not going to give us something just because we used the right words, which means that we can trust Him to do what’s really best, not just what we think is best in the moment.
What Does “In Jesus’ Name” Mean?
So what does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name? It’s more than just saying it—it’s actually doing it. It’s praying in Jesus’ name.
Chances are you already understand the concept, but maybe you’ve never specifically applied it to prayer. Just think about what it means to do anything in someone or something’s name. You may be familiar with the idea from old western or cop shows. If a sheriff knocks on someone’s door and says “open up, in the name of the law!” what does that mean? When the sheriff uses the phrase “in the name of” it indicates that he is acting on the authority of the law. He is a representative of the law upholding the law.
Praying in Jesus’ name is coming before God and making requests on the authority of Jesus as His representative.
Praying with Authority
Because of this, it’s not just about the words we use. Imagine an old western show where the sheriff is corrupt. Maybe a stranger comes to town and he isn’t well-liked. Perhaps he gets into some kind of altercation with the sheriff who decides to let him know how things work in that town. He says, “in this town, I’m the law.” If the sheriff acts with this mentality and goes around enforcing his own will he isn’t acting in the name of the law. It doesn’t matter if he says he’s doing it “in the name of the law,” because he isn’t acting on the law’s authority—he’s acting on his own.
We can pray and close by saying “in Jesus’ name,” but that doesn’t mean that we’re acting on Jesus’ authority. It isn’t about the words we’re saying, it’s about the authority behind them. Simply saying that we’re speaking with authority doesn’t make it true.
So if we ask for something that we want but that isn’t in God’s will for us, even if we say “in Jesus’ name,” there isn’t any authority behind our words. Just as the sheriff only represents the law when he is acting in accordance with it, we only represent Jesus when we act in accordance with His will.
Jesus Speaks on the Father’s Authority
This makes perfect sense! If we pray something that is in accordance with His will then He will do it. In fact, if we look at John 14:10, we will see that Jesus speaks on the authority of the Father, as the representative of the Father. Praying in Jesus’ name is the same; it’s speaking on the authority of Jesus as His representative just as Jesus speaks on the authority of the Father as His representative.
Praying What Jesus Would Pray
We can think of these prayers as a representation of what Jesus would say if He were in your situation. Praying in Jesus’ name involves looking at our situation and praying God’s will for our lives. It means asking ‘what would Jesus pray?’ It’s an acknowledgement that we are changing our desires and putting our trust in God’s will. We let go of what we want and choose to align our will with God’s.
That’s a hard thing to do. To come before God’s throne with all our concerns, hurts, and anxieties, with all our hopes and wants and lay them all down, instead trusting that God’s plan is better than our own. In prayer, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our hearts can change and our perspectives adjust so that we can more clearly see the goodness of God’s sovereign plan.
The Blessing of Praying in Jesus’ Name
But the blessing that comes along with it is knowing that God’s will will be done. God acts in accordance with His will, so if we pray for His will to be done He will do it. Our trust in Him, that He is in control of our situation, is rewarded by God acting on His will for us.
This is good news because His will is good, acceptable, and perfect. We know that He works everything for good for those who love Him. His plan is for the good of His kingdom and for His glory.
Praying in Jesus’ Name Glorifies God
Whatever we ask in Jesus’ Name, as His representative, acting under His authority, God will do so that the Father will be glorified. When God fulfills His promises, when He acts according to His will, when He works out His good plan, it brings Him glory. When our prayers are in accordance with God’s will, and He therefore answers them, it brings Him glory. Jesus will do whatever we ask of Him in His name so that the Father will be glorified in Him (John 14:13).
Praying in Jesus’ Name is a Privilege
So when we pray in Jesus’ name, we shouldn’t do so out of a desire to strong-arm God into giving us whatever we want, but with the desire to see His will done and Him glorified. We shouldn’t haphazardly tack on this phrase to the end of our prayer to make it more spiritual, we should recognize the privilege it is to pray in Jesus’ name, and do so humbly and respectfully. If you seek to know God more, study the Bible, and pray, you will become “transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
We’ve been given such an incredible freedom to be able to boldly approach the throne of God, but we should not forget the privilege it is to pray in Jesus’ name.
How does a proper understanding of praying in Jesus’ name affect the way we pray? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.