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Three times in his discussion with his friends while in the upper room before his death, Jesus underscored what he was saying by using the expression “Truly, truly, I say to you” (or, “Amen, amen,” depending on the translation). The words appear in John 14:12 and 14:20 (both passages which have been explored in previous posts) and in 14:23-24 (which was the focus of one prior post as well).

The third time it is recorded that Jesus used this expression, he is speaking about prayer.

“In that day you will not question me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”  (John 14:23-24)

Jesus clearly wants his followers–and that includes those of us who have entered into relationship with him who are alive today–to “ask the Father” and have those requested granted. For many contemporary followers of Jesus, that kind of praying seems a bit foreign.

We have experienced praying for something and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting only to conclude that nothing (apparently) is going to happen. We have also experienced asking the Father for something in prayer and seemingly getting something other than we have asked only to conclude that the Father has responded to the prayer by giving us something better for us although it was not what we specifically asked for.

But in this passage Jesus seems to be saying that there will come a time–for his followers in the upper room it was a day yet to come and for us it is the day in which we live–where we will ask the Father for specific things and he will grant those very things we ask.

Now before you go off and start insisting that Father grant you a girlfriend or boyfriend (or spouse!) to your liking, or begin making requests for new cars and a better job and straighter teeth and more hair, we have to listen to all that Jesus says about praying this way. And the critical piece seems to be that this kind of prayer that gets answered in such clear and positive ways is prayer that is offered “in Jesus’ name.”

That is not just a postscript tacked on to the end of our prayers. To pray “in Jesus’ name” does not mean we are supposed to add the phrase “in the name of Jesus” to our litany of requests. It is not a formula; it is not a “magic word” that guarantees we get our prayers answered the way we want.

To pray “in the name of Jesus” is about the way and the how and the why of our praying and not merely about the words we say.

Back in the Old Testament, in 1 Samuel 25:5, David the king of Israel, sent some soldiers to a man named Nabal and required of them to greet Nabal “in my name.” This could not have meant that David thought these soldiers would simply tack on the words “in David’s name” to their greeting when meeting Nabal (although, of course, they could have used those words). To greet Nabal in David’s name was to greet him as David’s representatives, standing before Nabal in David’s place, greeting him the way David himself would have had he been there, relating to Nabal the very way that David would have if he himself had been able to come.

And therein is a simple picture of what it means to pray “in Jesus name.”

If our praying–our requests raised to the Father–are a genuine outgrowth of our intimacy with Jesus and we ask for what we do as Jesus’ representatives, standing before the Father clothed in Jesus, speaking to the Father the way Jesus himself would, relating to the Father the way Jesus does (because Jesus made a way for us to do that!), and asking for the kinds of things that Jesus draws us to ask, then we can be assured that the Father will answer such prayers.

Praying “in Jesus’ name” is not about tacking on a postscript to our prayers but about praying as an expression of our deep and abiding intimacy with Jesus.

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One Comment

  1. Dear Lord Jesus, help me to be so in tune to the sound of Your voice that I may go to the Father with confidence that I am praying “in Your Name”!


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