light-handsHave you ever noticed that The Model Prayer does not end with “in Jesus’ name”? It is interesting to me that the only time I remember praying, or hearing someone else pray, without that closing phrase, is when The Model Prayer was prayed… and when I purposely tried to close my prayer without it.

Yes, I have tried to close my prayers without “in Jesus’ name”. You may wonder, “Why would you do such a thing?” I will attempt to explain; but first, let me ask you: Why do you add “in Jesus’ name” to the end of your prayers? What does it mean to you?

Based on a small survey of my Christian family and friends, I have discovered five general motivations for this practice:

  1. It is the way they learned to pray (not that they were taught what it means).
  2. They are handing the prayer off to Jesus; to be the mediator of their prayer, with the Father.
  3. They are submitting their prayer to Jesus’ will; in essence praying, “your will be done”.
  4. They believe there is power in the name of Jesus; power necessary for the accomplishment of their prayer.
  5. They believe their prayer has been offered in alignment with Jesus’ will (and that of His Father).

I believe there are several good reasons for praying in Jesus’ name. Some are better than others; and some are only good to a point. Speaking of points, the point of this article is to encourage everyone that uses this phrase, to consider what it means and why they are using it – if for no other reason than to avoid disobeying the third commandment.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. Exodus 20:7

It should give us pause that coming to Jesus, in His name, does not mean He know us; and that many will prophesy, cast out demons, and do many wonders, in His name – and still not enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 7:21-23). So, let’s pause and consider the motivations listed above.

  1. Most close their prayer with “in Jesus’ name” because that is how prayer was modeled for them (myself included). This is the reason why I have tried to pray without “in Jesus’ name” – to see if it was something I was just saying; and to force myself to think about my motivation. If corrections are needed, this is the place to start. As disciple makers, we are responsible for helping others pray with understanding and purpose – particularly when something as important as Jesus’ name is concerned.
  2. While I find it harsh to say this is wrong, it just doesn’t seem right to me. Jesus instructed us to pray to the Father (Matthew 6:6; Luke 11:2). In John 16:26, Jesus specifically said, “and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you”. There are times when the Holy Spirit prays for us. However, this is something different.
  3. Recognizing our frailty in prayer – and our propensity to pray out of our own will – it is good practice to submit our prayers to the will of the Father. However, this is a limited use of praying in Jesus’ name. In fact, praying in Jesus’ name is praying His will. That is, at least in part, what “in His name” means (more on this later).
  4. Many of my Christian friends believe “there is power in the name of Jesus”. There is a popular Christian song with that title. I agree, with one caution. With all due respect and love, I wonder how many times we throw in Jesus’ name like a vending machine token – to get what we want. The phrase “in Jesus’ name” does not have power in itself. It is the authority of Jesus, in His name, that has power.
  5. Praying out of the will of Jesus (and His Father) is the heart of praying “in His name”. “In His name” in founded on (i.e., centered in) our having subjected ourselves to His reign. When we are praying in His name, we are praying with His agenda in mind. It is only in this position of subjection, that we have any authority to approach His throne; much less, ask or claim anything.

Let me conclude with this suggestion: “In Jesus’ name” should be the first thing we offer in our prayer to the Father (not just the last). It is a way of saying, “I come to submit and request only that which is in my Master’s interest. By your Holy Spirit, guide my prayer.” If we begin our prayer in this manner, we can confidently close with the same; knowing that the Father has heard us, and that we will receive our petitions (1John 5:14-15).

Humbly yours and forever His,