Praying in the Name of Jesus
As Christians when we pray, we usually end our prayers by saying, “in the name of Jesus.” Or “in Jesus’ name. But the phrase, “In the name of Jesus” or “In Jesus’ name” has to be one of the most misunderstood phrases in Christianity.
For most of us Christians, when we say “in the name of Jesus,” we mean “by the authority of Jesus.” Or better yet, “by the seal of approval of Jesus Christ,” to make God act on our behalf, no matter what the prayer is or how ridiculous the request or petition is.
So, it’s not unusual that when we pray, we say “in the name of Jesus” at the end of every prayer, even prayers that have nothing to do with Jesus Christ.
So, all kinds of selfish prayers for blessings, wealth, healing, etc., end “in the name of Jesus.” Even prayers against our enemies -- perceived and real.
I’ll be honest, until now I thought praying in the name of Jesus meant sealing my prayer with the seal of approval of Jesus. So, I’ve had my fair share of prayers that had nothing to do with Christ, but which still ended, “in Jesus’ name.”
Like me, most Christians believe that once they end their prayers “in the name of Jesus,” or its variation, “in Jesus’ name,” the prayers are automatically sealed to be answered. Or that God is bound to move because they prayed, “in the name of Jesus.”
What is in the name of Jesus?
If the phrase, “in the name of Jesus,” does not mean to certify or ratify any and all kinds of prayers, what does it then mean? Or when can or should someone use the phrase, “in the name of Jesus?” Or better yet, who should use the phrase?
To understand the phrase, “in the name of Jesus,” one needs to understand the preposition, “in.” The word “in” is perhaps the most important word in the phrase, yet the most overlooked word. The word “in” means “to be located and situated in something or someone.” So, when someone prays in the name of Jesus, what the person is saying is that he or she is located and situated in Jesus Christ. And when you are located and situated in something or someone, you can only ask what’s in where you are located.
Another way of looking at this is that when a person is located and situated in Christ Jesus, the person is located and situated in His Kingdom. Therefore, when a person prays or asks for anything, it would only be for something that’s in the Kingdom, not outside the Kingdom. What’s in God’s Kingdom is only in God’s Kingdom, and what’s in the world system is only in the world system.
What is in is in, and what is out is out. So, what’s in (or who is in) only seeks what’s in, not what’s out. That is, what’s in only seeks what’s in the Kingdom, and not what’s in the world. And because you are asking for what’s in the Kingdom, you have no choice but get what you ask for. Why? Because you already have access to it.
Now, interestingly one can be a Christian and not be located and situated in Christ, especially in prayer. Being a Christian is one thing, and being located and situated in Christ is another. And God is not obligated to answer prayers prayed outside of Christ, even if the person mouths, “in Jesus name,” at the end of the prayer.
So, to pray in Jesus’ name is to pray located and situated in Jesus Christ. To pray located and situated in Jesus Christ is to pray according to His will, i.e., to pray what He desires, that His Kingdom comes. To pray according to His will is to pray unselfishly. I John 5: 14 says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
For instance, if you are in a house, you already have access to whatever is in the house. And if there’s a part of the house that’s locked or inaccessible to you, if it is something you can have, all you have to do is ask the owner of the house, and he’ll give it to you. That’s why Jesus said, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” – John 14:14.
Therefore, it’s very important that when we pray or ask anything in Jesus’ name, we ought to make sure that it’s something that’s in the Kingdom, and not in the world! He has no obligation to give you what’s in the world, but only what’s in His Kingdom. After all, those in the world have what’s in the world. So, that shouldn’t be what you ask the Father for. To get what’s in the world, all you have to do is do what the world does to get it, like getting a job to get it.
Now, if you are truly in Christ, you have no choice but pray in Christ. Jesus in John 15:7 went on to say that, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” Why? Because His words abide in you. And if His words abide in you, when you pray, you will pray His words. That is, His desires are your desires, and vice versa. That is, your prayers are all about pleasing Him, seeking first His Kingdom.
So, what’s in the name? Simply, what’s not in the world! Salvation. Healing. Love – unconditional love. Joy – unspeakable joy. Peace – that passes all understanding. Simply put, if it’s in the world, it’s not in the name. And if it’s in the name, it’s not in the world.
Contrary to what you may believe or have been taught, money or wealth is not in the name. It’s in the world. Finding a spouse is not in the name, (I know it sounds like it is). But it’s not in the name, it’s in the world. Houses are not in the name, but in the world.
What’s in the name? What money cannot buy; what eyes cannot see; what ears cannot hear. Simply put, what’s above and beyond what we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). That’s what’s in the name of Jesus Christ. If money can buy it, eyes can see it, ears can hear it, hands can touch it, it’s not in the name of Jesus Christ.
Now, let me say that even things that are in the name are not automatic. Some things that are in the name are either subject to God’s will or discretion; or man’s will or doing – that is it’s dependent on man, and not God to make it happen, even though it’s in the name of Jesus Christ . For our examples of things that in the name of Jesus Christ, but subject to God’s discretion and man’s own doing, let’s look at peace and healing.
Take peace, for instance. Peace is not automatic for a believer. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Even though peace is in the name, and Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, we can only have peace if our mind is stayed on Him, not on our situation or condition.
Jesus in John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Key words: may and will. That is, tribulation is guaranteed; peace is not. Peace is conditional, if your mind is stayed on Him.
Also, take healing for instance. Even though healing is in the name, it’s not available to every believer; depending on God’s will for the person.
Just because healing is in the name of Jesus Christ, doesn’t mean that every sick Christian is going to be healed. A person may be healed, if that’s God’s will concerning the person. But a person may not be healed if that’s not God’s will concerning the person. God’s will for a sick person may be for the person to glorify Him, even in sickness. Yes! Contrary to Charismatic belief, you can glorify God in sickness.
What is certain is that God’s will for us Christians is that we show forth His excellence whether in sickness or in health. However, most Christians have been taught wrongly to think that we can only glorify God when we are healthy or healed.
For instance, a few months ago I was talking to a friend who told me that when he had just joined our church, that he was at a ministry meeting one day, and they decided to pray for another ministry member who was very sick in the hospital. He said that the person leading the prayer ended the prayer by saying something like, “Father, if it’s your will that you heal this person.”
My friend said that he had a problem with that prayer because, how could you be praying for someone who was sick and said if it was God’s will to heal him. After all, it has to be God’s will to heal that person.
I explained to my friend that that’s how we ought to pray – we ought to always pray that God’s will be done in our lives, even when it’s not what we want. I told him that while there’s nothing wrong in praying that a person be healed; we still ought to pray that God’s will be done eventually. I explained to him that a prayer like that is a perfect example of a New Testament prayer, as evidenced by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in the Garden of Gethsemane, when faced with death on the Cross (Luke 22:42). And also by Paul about the “thorn in his flesh.” (2 Corinthian 12:7-10)
When we pray, truly pray in the name of Jesus Christ, we are able to pray that God’s will be done. And we are able to accept whatever His will is concerning the situation we pray about. Now, often times when we pray for someone or our own healing from a sickness, it’s because we don’t want to die. At least not at the time we pray. See the article: Heaven: Anyone? Eventhough, one thing that’s certain for us all is death.
Now, there’s this misconception in the Body of Christ, especially in the Charismatic Movement, that when a person prays that God’s will be done, it’s a sign of spiritual immaturity or lack of a strong faith. That is, having a big faith means getting God to do whatever you ask, whenever you ask. But I say rather on the contrary, that having a big faith or being spiritually mature is praying that God’s will be done concerning a particular situation.
And that’s why Apostle Paul could say that, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -- I Thessalonians 5:18. Notice the phrase, in Christ Jesus. Whatever happens to a believer in Christ Jesus is a good thing. Even when it doesn’t look good in the ordinary.
That’s why Apostle James could also say in James 1:2-4, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
As a Christian, when you are able to pray that God’s will be done in any situation, you are able to say as Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9b-10, “…Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
So, to say that when a person prays that God’s will be done is a sign of little or no faith is to say that Apostle Paul and Jesus Christ had little or no faith. And if that’s the qualification of little or no faith, then I think I’m in good company.
Nevertheless, before you ask why God didn’t answer your prayer, first ask yourself, “was it in His name?” And if it was, then you just have to rest in the fact that you prayed in His name – even if the answer was a “No.” By the way, “No” is an answer!
May the LORD strengthen us all by His Spirit to truly pray in His Name, that His will be done. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!