In 2001, President-elect George W. Bush invited two men to pray for him during the inauguration ceremonies in Washington D.C. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, and Kirbyjon Caldwell, a leading Methodist pastor from Houston, accepted the invitation and did not hesitate to voice their prayers in Jesus’s name, which, not surprisingly, lit a political and cultural firestorm.

And yet, praying in His name is exactly what Jesus taught His disciples to do during His Upper Room discourse (John 14:13-14, 15:16, 16:23-24). How else would anyone expect two Christian clergymen to pray?

What does it mean to pray in Jesus’s name? Primarily, it means that our access to the Father in prayer comes only through Jesus. We are in the Lord's presence by Jesus's merits, not ours, and pray in His authority. Though not a perfect illustration, praying to the Father in Jesus’s name is sort of like calling the President of the United States and invoking the name of a former President who already set up the conversation so that the current leader of the free world is expecting your call.

Praying in Jesus’s name also acknowledges the trinitarian aspects of biblical prayer. Christians pray to the Father, in the name of the Son, and by the Holy Spirit. I hear a lot of theologically sloppy praying directed to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. However, Jesus precisely taught His disciples to pray to “Our Father” and “in my name.”

In John 14:13-14, Jesus said, “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.” Of course, the words “I will do” assume we have met all other prayer criteria, including praying according to the will of God (1 John 5:14).

Furthermore, as Christians, we need to be careful that we do not treat the words “in Jesus’s name” like the word “abracadabra,” which magicians use to signify the moment something magical happens. God the Father, who is all-powerful, is neither a genie nor a magician.

The Father generously grants His children access through prayer because of the mediatorial work of His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5). Thus, in Jesus’s name, “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Add a Comment

“Every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

Romans 8:28 MSG