“In Jesus name” what’s that?

Jesus says, “Whatever you ask in my name I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13–14). He also says that he chose his disciples “so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give it to you” (John 15:16). Similarly, he says, “…if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name. Until now you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23–24). But what does this mean?

Clearly it does not simply mean adding the phrase “in Jesus’ name” after every prayer, because Jesus did not say, “If you ask anything and add the words “in Jesus’ name’ after your prayer, I will do it.” Jesus is not merely speaking about adding certain words as if these were a kind of magical formula that would give power to our prayers. In fact, none of the prayers recorded in Scripture have the phrase “in Jesus’ name” at the end of them (see Matt. 6:9–13; Acts 1:24–25; 4:24–30;2 7:59; 9:13–14; 10:14; Rev. 6:10; 22:20).

To come in the name of someone means that another person has authorized us to come on his authority, not on our own. In Acts 3:6, Peter commands the lame man, “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk”, he is speaking on the authority of Jesus, not on his own authority (see also Acts 16:18 and 1 Cor. 5:4). Praying in Jesus’ name is therefore a prayer made on his authority.

Does this mean that it is wrong to add “in Jesus’ name” to the end of our prayers? It is certainly not wrong, as long as we understand what is meant by it, and that it is not necessary to do so. There may be some danger, however, if we add this phrase to every public or private prayer we make, for very soon it will become to people simply a formula to which they attach very little meaning and say without thinking about it. (largely influenced by Grudem’s Systematic Theology)

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