“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do,” promised Jesus. And ever since that day, his followers have prayed in his name. Parents teach their children, pastors teach their parishioners, evangelists teach their new converts to close their prayers with the familiar words, “In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
But familiarity has its ways of breeding contempt, even in a task as sacred as prayer. And so it is wise for us, from time to time, to revisit even the simplest and most well-used phrases so we can remind ourselves of their importance and consider once again their sheer wonder. For we must know and must remember that it is no small thing, no small honor, no small privilege, to pray in the name of Jesus.
When we say, “In Jesus’ name,” we invoke the second person of the Trinity, the God who existed from before all time, the God who was present and active at creation, the God through whom all things were created and without whom nothing was made that has been made.
When we say, “In Jesus’ name,” we speak in the name of the one of whom all the scriptures speak, the one who is in some way present in every book, every chapter, every verse of the Bible. We bring our praises and petitions in the name of the one who is the fulfillment of the Bible’s very first promise of redemption, the one who is the ultimate fulfillment of all the types and pictures of the Old Testament, the one who is the ultimate prophet, priest, and king, the one whom all the prophets ultimately spoke of.
When we say, “In Jesus’ name,” we ask that our prayer may be granted for the sake of the one who laid aside the glory he had known for all of eternity, who took on mortal, finite, feeble human flesh, who was born into the world as a helpless baby, who grew up submissive to parents who had been created only by his own power, who took on the form of a lowly servant, who walked this world with dust on his sacred feet.
When we say, “In Jesus’ name,” we pray in the name of the one who suffered and died on our behalf, the one who humbled himself in obedience to God even to the point of death—death on a horrific cross. He is the one who faced the divine wrath of the Father against sin, who bore it and satisfied it, all for the sake of the ones he loved. He is the one who died not for his own sin (since he, after all, had committed none) but for the sins of those who love him and trust in his name.
When we say, “In Jesus’ name,” we pray in the name of the one who rose from the dead, who was triumphant over the grave, who proved that he had conquered death by being released from death’s grip, who appeared before hundreds, who ascended into the clouds.
When we say, “In Jesus’ name,” we pray in the name of the one who has been exalted to the highest place, the one who has had bestowed upon him the name that is above every name, the one before whom all of heaven and earth should bow and someday will bow. He is the one who is worshipped by the saints and angels and elders and martyrs, the one before whom the very rocks will cry out in praise.
When we say, “In Jesus’ name,” we pray in the name of the one who will soon return to judge the world, who will separate the sheep from the goats, who will welcome into paradise the ones who love him and usher into damnation the ones who have rejected him. He is the one who will reign over the new heavens and new earth, the one whose name will be forever on our lips.
And so when today that name passes over our lips, when we speak his name to close our prayers, when we obey him by uttering the precious phrase “In Jesus’ name,” far be it from us to do so lightly, to do so tritely, to do so without due honor, due worship, due reverence.