Blog

What's in a name?

Like many of you, I guess, I ended my prayers this morning by saying, "And I ask it in Jesus name." Those words, or ones like them, are familiar as the way in which we, as Christians, close our prayers. But all too often they can end up as a mechanical formula, the 'done' way of ending a prayer. But they are as important as the content of the prayer itself, if not more. Why?

First, because in those words we are acknowledging that the only reason we, as sinful people, can present our petitions before a holy God is because we do so coming in the one who has secured for us our forgiveness and clothes us in his righteousness (his right standing with God).

Second, because in these words we see something of the reality that we, as Christians, are joined to Christ, united to him in the Holy Spirit, and that our prayers are a joining into the communion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In fact the primary purpose of our prayers ought to be about knowing and enjoying the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus. We only know in part, of course, but if our prayers do not have knowing God as their primary focus, then the thing or things that are the primary focus mean more to us than God himself.

They also, thirdly, remind us that we need to abide in Jesus for all that we do. Without him we can do nothing (John 15:5).

And fourth, because the words ought to be seen as words of power. Not coercive power, as though we could force the hand of God by their use; nor manipulative power; but a power none the less. Jesus tells us that what we ask for in his name we will receive (John 16:24). We should weigh carefully our requests when we understand that Jesus' name is surety for prayers prayed in it.

But his 'name' is not a magic spell that, if attached to the end of a prayer, means that any and all requests, no matter how self-serving, selfish, bizarre, or just plain world-centred, will be granted. In the Bible the name of God (and of Jesus) is more than just a title. It is who he is in himself, his character, his holiness, his justice and so on. You see that when God proclaims his name to Moses (Exodus 33:19; 34:5-7). When we pray in the name of Jesus we pray in accordance with his nature. We align our wills in accordance with his will. We seek to ascertain his purposes rather than simply our wishes.

Our prayers are precious means of communicating with the living God, seeking him for who he is in Christ Jesus, searching out his purposes and seeking to bring our desires into line with them. They are also, of course, open and honest expressions of our own felt needs and wishes but the granting of those will be in accordance with Jesus' name as well. If the things we think we need are also in tune with his purposes, then we will be granted them. But sometimes we assume we know what is best for us and we turn that desire from being simply a desire into being a thing we feel that we need, and we convince ourselves that God must see it that way also. But God may not see it that way at all. He who knows us better than we know ourselves may see that the thing we think so essential might actually be less than the best for us or even harmful.

Thus when we pray in the name of Jesus we ought to do so with humility, knowing that we are frail, ill-informed creatures and he is the all knowing Creator. We come in humble dependence on him, placing our circumstances before him and sharing our lives with him. We seek out his will and his ways and, ultimately, we seek out him.

There is more to praying "In Jesus name, amen" than simply the right way to end a prayer.

 

Subscribe to Blog

RSS Feed



Blog Posts

When our sorrow may be sinful
12 Sep 2016
Seeking more
09 Apr 2016
How do I work hard for fellow believers?
06 Jan 2016
Getting to the meat
05 Oct 2015
The beauty of God's choice of sinners
03 Aug 2015
Knowing it is for good
04 Jun 2015
Getting more from the Bible
08 Apr 2015
Seeing beyond the obvious
12 Jan 2015
Fully equipped
22 Nov 2014
The sweet longing
24 Sep 2014
Praying for a thankful heart
27 Aug 2014
A little naughtiness or something far, far worse?
22 Jul 2014
Coming to know God
21 Jun 2014
Hanging on the promises, hoping in God
03 Jun 2014
Pious limitations
13 May 2014
Reuniting the divided life
29 Apr 2014
God communicates to us when he shows us Christ
07 Apr 2014
A journey into beauty
01 Apr 2014
"The death of self-importance"
10 Mar 2014
Passion for Life
27 Feb 2014
Am I really a Christian?
10 Feb 2014
Christianity is not morality
20 Jan 2014
Are our devotions really devotional?
08 Jan 2014
Let us resolve to not be lukewarm
06 Jan 2014
A baby who is so much more than a baby
03 Dec 2013
"The gift of desire", what St Anselm saw
18 Nov 2013
I can get satisfaction
13 Nov 2013
What's in a biography?
26 Oct 2013
The beauty of God's way of salvation
26 Oct 2013
Why not, Mr Dawkins?
26 Oct 2013
What is the ultimate good of our hearts?
08 Oct 2013
Boasting in the offence of the cross
30 Sep 2013
Too heavenly minded to be of earthly use?
17 Sep 2013
What's in a name?
02 Sep 2013
Revival and building houses
27 Aug 2013
Do you delight in God even when he withholds?
20 Aug 2013
How much do we value God's presence?
01 Aug 2013
Why sincerity is not enough
24 Jul 2013
An invitation to true blessing
15 Jul 2013
When not being happy might be a sin
08 Jul 2013
"Created in Christ Jesus to do good works"
01 Jul 2013
The worst has already happened so that the best can
24 Jun 2013
A misplaced "Wow!"
04 Jun 2013
I know I am supposed to change, but how?
25 May 2013
God's delight in saving sinners
11 May 2013
"A God Entranced Vision of All Things"
07 May 2013
Our most fatal allergy; our most deadly addiction
23 Apr 2013
Wowed, urged on and imploring
15 Apr 2013
Responding to God's peace
08 Apr 2013
Which Jesus?
02 Apr 2013
When we mess up
02 Apr 2013
Image and Desires
28 Feb 2013