Start Your Prayers in Jesus’ Name

Sound Words graphicMost Christians use the phrase “in Jesus’ name” merely as a sanctified sign-off to their prayers. The phrase as many use it might rightly be translated in a number of ways:

  • “Sincerely,”
  • “Ten-four. Over-and-out.”
  • “I’m done—someone else’s turn.”

Although this may be a comical  exaggeration, it contains a truth that is no laughing matter: we have taken what Jesus provided as a great privilege backed by glorious doctrinal truths and turned it into a mindless phrase—the very sort of vain repetition which He explicitly forbade (Matt 6:7). We treat the phrase like so many magic words. We get offended when a brother closes a prayer with a simple “Amen.” Friends, we’re missing the point.

The central lesson Jesus intended to teach us the night before His betrayal and crucifixion (John 14:13–14; 15:16; 16:23–24, 26) is that we have access into the presence of the Father on the merits of Jesus Christ. Hebrews
10:19–22 puts it this way:

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. . . .”

The point of praying in Jesus’ name is that we are able to claim the privilege of communion with God which rightly belongs to Christ alone. We are allowed to “come boldly to the throne of grace” (Heb 4:14–16) because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, the blood of Christ shed for us, and the High Priesthood of Christ whereby He represents us. Whereas even the godliest of Old Testament saints were excluded from the Holy of Holies under the Old Covenant, the New Testament believer is able to come directly into the presence of God with boldness. We’re not welcome because we’ve “been good,” nor are we excluded because we’ve “been bad.” We’re welcome because of Christ!

Let me end with a practical suggestion. Rather than ending your prayers with a thoughtless sign-off, start your prayers in Jesus’ name! Remind yourself and confess to God these great truths:

“Father, I’m not approaching You because of any righteousness of my own, for I have none. I’m painfully aware of my sin, and in myself I have no right be heard by You. Nevertheless, I do come, and I do so boldly and with thanksgiving because of the blood and righteousness of Christ. He is worthy to commune with You, and He has granted to me that same privilege. So I pray ‘in Jesus’ name,’ rejoicing in my salvation through Christ.”

August 2008

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