John 16:24 “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
This verse (along with a few others) is the theological foundation for the almost universal practice of tacking “In Jesus’ name, amen” onto just about any prayer. However, in the majority of cases it has become strictly rote, with no thought or understanding to it, and as such becomes essentially meaningless. It’s kind of like typing a complex computer password and forgetting to capitalize some of the letters. It’s all there, but it doesn’t work. Asking in Jesus’ name isn’t complex, but it isn’t automatic and it isn’t necessarily easy, even. A good example is when Peter and John encountered the man begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple in Jerusalem. Peter famously healed him by saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6) He was able to do that because he was operating in the Spirit of Jesus. There have been many examples just as dramatic as that down through the centuries, and they haven’t always included the specific words, “In Jesus’ name.” Using the words as window dressing doesn’t cut it. There are countless prayers that use those words but essentially have nothing to do with Jesus! We need to line our hearts and our words up with the heart and Spirit of Jesus to use His name effectively.
I of course was raised with the practice of adding “In Jesus’ name, amen,” to my prayers, and despite my parents’ generally excellent faith and understanding of the Bible, didn’t receive particularly good teaching on the subject. As I have commented before, prayer was as natural as breathing in our house, but I wasn’t taught about it. In the many years since, I have learned a lot about prayer both from various teachers and especially from doing it. I’m personally a fan of what is called “conversational prayer,” that sounds to an observer like you’re simply talking to someone who doesn’t happen to be in eyesight. In such cases, “In Jesus’ name” rarely enters the picture. When I am praying out loud in a group setting I often say, “In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” Praying in Jesus’ name definitely requires submission to His Lordship! I find that is the key thing I need to be careful about in my praying, so I don’t go tacking His name onto a casual or fleshly wish-list. That said, Jesus explicitly told us to ask so that our joy would be complete. It is indeed a gloriously joyful thing to experience answered prayer! As I am trying to teach the believers here, growth in prayer comes most of all through praying, not through “dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s. It is very appropriate that we combine two Scriptures in one song we sing frequently: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” and “Ask and it shall be given unto you.” Asking doesn’t do a whole lot of good if we aren’t seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness.
Well, Father, the message You’ve given me for Sunday isn’t on prayer, but here You’ve given me another one that is! Thank You. I do pray that I would be effective in raising up a body of believers who truly know You and talk with You and praise You and serve You as You desire, for the sake of Your kingdom and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!