In John 13-18, at the last supper, we have an interesting snippet into the life of Jesus. Like a parent who is leaving his child at college for the first time, Jesus covers everything important His “kids” needed to know before leaving them on their own for the first time. In this talk, Jesus reveals something they had never heard before: “Ask in my name.” Pray in my name. It was so important that He comes back to that point three times.
They got it. In Acts four we seek a crippled man healed in the name of Jesus. Throughout Acts they continually call on the name of Jesus. We need to learn what that means to ask and pray in Jesus’ name.
For many of us, however, that phrase has become just a perfunctory tack on, to indicate the end of a prayer. “Okay, my prayer is over,” or “your turn to pray,” are more what it means in a prayer. Most believers—including myself—jump past that important theological truth like it means nothing.
A recent study on the topic in order to preach on it, really impacted me. I was struck by how much I had forgotten what it means to pray in Jesus’ name. While I can’t do justice to all that it means in a blog entry (books could be written on the topic), I hope this stimulus will encourage you to pray with more power and authority.
Three Types of Authority
Praying in Jesus name gives us a level of authority that no other created being in the universe possesses! We have three “types” of authority because of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
First we have a legal authority, very much like a business manager has been given by an owner. Whatever a manager decides is binding, because he was given that authority by the owner. We represent Christ as ambassadors Scripture says. An ambassador acts in the interest of a nation in a foreign nation. God has given us authority to act for Him on earth—to represent Him. When we pray in Jesus’ name, what we ask for needs to be in line with what we know He would do.
Second we have the authority and rights of a child-father relationship. We are co-heirs with Christ. This gives us access to the throne room. But because of who God is, we are given a huge level of authority as His heir. When we pray, we have confidence, because we know who our Father is. The more we know Him, the more we know what He would want to do in a situation—and we can declare that to be done.
Finally, we are in bride-bridegroom relationship, and have all the authority that comes to a bride when she gets married. When a couple joins, everything the one has now also belongs to the other. Everything Christ has is ours! But we also have to recognize that everything we have belongs to Him. That speaks of huge surrender. When this comes to prayer, it means that it can no longer be what I want . . . but what we want. I can only pray what is in sync with what my bridegroom also wants. That speaks of intimacy.
So the next time you tack on “in Jesus’ name, Amen” to the end of your prayer, consider what it implies. Better yet, it might be good to think of that even before you pray! Maybe it will change how you pray.
–Jonathan Graf is the president of the Church Prayer Leaders Network and the director of Love2Pray. His practical book on prayer is The Power of Personal Prayer. You can order it wherever you purchase Christian books. It is available in e-book and print formats. Save $2.00 with code love2pray at checkout at prayershop.org.