Praying in Jesus' Name

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Prayer isn’t magic – though it’s amazing how we fall into the trap of seeing it that way, especially when we want something.

‘And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.’ (John 14:13-14)

Prayer isn’t ‘magic’ – though it’s amazing how we fall into the trap of seeing it as such, especially when we want something.  In magic, saying the right formula brings the required result, and Acts tells us about some Jewish exorcists who saw Christian prayer in that way. ‘They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out”’ (Acts 19:13). But seven sons of Sceva tried it and found they had ‘bitten off more than they could chew’ when an evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?’ (v. 15), and promptly gave them a good beating. They certainly learned that praying ‘in Jesus name’ wasn’t some magic formula that achieved its required end just because you used it.

So what does it mean to pray ‘in Jesus’ name’? First, it’s about praying on the basis of who Jesus is. In Bible times, someone’s name summed up who they were and what they did. So praying ‘in Jesus’ name’ recognizes that, while we have no claims in our own right when we approach God, we are coming on the basis of who Jesus is.

Second, it’s about praying on the basis of what Jesus has done. We are remembering his death on the cross, where he defeated sin and Satan, and remembering that our sins have been dealt with and that the devil now has no grounds for accusing us as we pray.

Third it is about praying on the basis of what Jesus is like. The ‘anything’ that Jesus promised has first to get past the ‘everything’ that Jesus is. He is holy; so can we ask him to answer some unholy request? He is compassionate; so can we ask him to answer some unkind and uncaring prayer?

No, praying in Jesus’ name certainly isn’t magic – but it is powerful! And recalling who he is, what he has done and what he is like will always affect our prayers.

‘I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.’ (John 16:23)

Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont

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