As we've been reading through the High Priestly Prayer in John 17, and marveling at Jesus’ prayer over His followers, it’s reminded me of a funny question my daughter, Julia, asked when she was still really little.
After praying as a family (over a meal or before bed), and ending the prayer with the normal “In Jesus’ name, Amen”, Julia asked “Dad, how does Jesus end HIS prayers? Does He say ‘In my name, Amen’?
We had a good laugh, not just because it was funny, but because it’s incredibly insightful. And it spurred a conversation about why WE say “In Jesus’ name” when we pray.
When I was a kid I thought it was just a customary send-off, like saying “10-4”, or “Roger that” on a walkie-talkie. Or that it was just the way we ended things, like Walter Cronkite’s “And that’s the way it is.”
But I think we can agree it means much more then that.
I heard a story that illustrates this concept well:
A man took his son to a carnival for his birthday, and told him he could invite three of his best friends to join them. The father purchased a roll of tickets, and every time his son wanted to go on a carnival ride, they’d line up and he’d pass out four tickets, one at a time, to each boy.
At some point during the night, as they lined up for more tickets, the father noticed a 4th friend in line, a kid he had never seen before and never met. When the new kid’s turn in line came up, the father asked “Who are you?” The boy replied, “I’m your son’s friend; he said you’d give me a ticket!” So the father gave him one.
Here’s the point: I don’t have any right to get answered prayers from God. I owe Him a lot, and He doesn’t owe me anything. But when I come and ask God for requests, I don’t ask on my own merit. I come on the merit of Christ. I just say, “Father, I’m coming to you because your Son said so. I’m coming because of what Jesus Christ has already done for me on the cross. He’s promised that I can ask in His name, so that’s what I’m doing right now.”
I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to say “in Jesus’ name” at the end of every prayer if you’ve got the right attitude, but I think it’s a good idea. Why? Because it reminds you why you have the right to pray — because Jesus is your mediator and has made a way for God to hear and answer your prayers.