How often have you ended a prayer with “in Jesus’ name”?

We say it so often, it has almost become a tagline. But how did this practice begin?

Several verses in the New Testament tell us to pray in Jesus’ name, including:

  • “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified
    in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John
    14:13-14 NIV).
  • “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)

However, this phrase may not mean what most of us think it does!

In ancient times before planes, trains, and automobiles, rulers did not have the
convenience of making a phone call or sending a telegram to convey their orders.
Instead, the king would send his emissary to a distant location. And the emissary would
say, “I come in the name of the king.” The emissary might not have possessed his own
independent authority, but the message carried the full weight of the sender. The
emissary spoke as if the king himself were speaking and those who received the
message understood the authority behind it.

So when you and I pray in Jesus’ name, we are saying our prayer is what Jesus would
pray if He were speaking. We’re coming to the Father in the authority the name of Jesus

When I realized the true weight of this phrase, it changed the way I pray. I knew there
were times when my prayer was not what Jesus would have prayed for me. And 1 John
5:14 adds an additional layer of importance to praying in Jesus’ name. The apostle John
wrote, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything
according to his will, he hears us” (NIV).

But how can we know His will if we do not intimately know His nature and His ways?

When I wrote Reflections on the Names of God: 180 Devotions to Know God More
Fully, my goal was to cultivate intimacy with God by learning what He revealed about
Himself in His Word. Each name and attribute provides additional reasons to trust Him.
And that trust enables me to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that
we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16 NIV).

While we cannot fully understand who God is on this side of heaven, His names and
attributes give us glimpses into His divine nature. And that will always change how we
pray “in His name.”

Ava Pennington

Ava Pennington is an author, speaker, freelance editor, and certified writing and speaking coach. She also teaches a weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. Ava is the author of Reflections on the Names of God: 180 Devotions to Know God More Fully (Revell Books). She has also been published in numerous magazines and more than 35+ anthologies, including 30 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

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