Why Do We Pray… In Jesus’ Name?

26 Mar

Prayer (Photo credit: Chris Yarzab)

If you’ve been around the Christian faith and prayer, you’ve probably heard that phrase, “…in Jesus name,” at the end of the prayer.  But have you ever wondered why?

I say it myself, and have done so for years.  But over the last decade, my understanding of that phrase and the meaning behind it has taken on a whole new significance in my life.  It has caused me to reexamine my motives and my priorities.  It has made me more humble… yet more happy.

It has increased the number of answered prayers in my life.  How?

Jesus’ Promise

The phrase, “…in Jesus’ name” comes from Jesus himself:

“At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.” (John 16:23–24 NLT)

This is almost too good to be true!  If I ask in Jesus’ name, God will grant my request?  That’s like having the most powerful genie in the universe at my disposal!   Oh… the power!!! (insert evil laugh….).

And as a young(er) man, I was sure to tack on that phrase as I “wished” for all kinds of things: material wealth, sucess, status, and power.  And since I’m a little thick, it took me some time to realize:

Those prayers weren’t “working.”

I had to face the hard facts: either Jesus was wrong (and so was the Bible), or I didn’t have the full story on what it meant to pray in Jesus’ name.

Thus, the search began… to discover what praying in Jesus name was… and was not.

What Praying in Jesus’ Name is NOT:

It’s not an incantation.  It’s not the magic ingredient that commands a cosmic genie.  In fact, if that’s how I treat God, then I have misidentified which one of us is God in our relationship.

It’s a humbling but important question to ask regularly: “Who works for whom?”

That also means it doesn’t guarantee that I’ll get what I want if I use those words.  And to be honest, that’s a good thing!  I can ask for some pretty crazy things.

Now, before we give God a bad rap for not answering our every prayer because we tack on the magic words, consider the perspective of a parent.

What parent would grant this request from their 8 year old?  “Hey Mom/Dad, can I eat all the candy I got at the Easter Egg hunt right now?”  Unless your child is a terrible gatherer and has very little candy, the typical parent is going to say “No!”  (even if they ask in the name of Jesus!).


Because getting what you want isn’t always what’s best for you.  Any good parent knows that… and so does God.

So what is praying in Jesus’ name about?

What Praying in Jesus’ Name IS

In the ancient world, a name represented what that person was like.  It was a reflection of their character, and their will.

So… if we are to pray “…in Jesus’ name,” our prayers should also be a reflection of Jesus’ character… and Jesus’ will.

Well, that would certainly explain why many of my earlier prayers didn’t happen.  As I look back, they had very little to do with Jesus’ character… or will.  They were about me.

I shudder to think what might have happened if some of those prayers had been answered!  Fortunately, God is good, and too loving to let me eat that whole bag of candy!

If we want a “successful” prayer life, we must first ask:

  • in alignment with Jesus’ character
  • in acknowledgement of Jesus’ will

As a wise person once said, “The purpose of prayer is not to bend God to our will.  Rather, it is to bend us to God’s perfect will.”

Once I realized the real meaning behind praying in Jesus’ name, I noticed a couple of things.  I didn’t always get what I wanted…

… I got something even better.

What has been your experience with praying “in Jesus name?”  Where do you struggle with this idea?

1 Comment

Posted by on March 26, 2013 in Group Discussion


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