“And we ask these things in Jesus’ name.” As a pastor, I’ve said those words at the close of prayers in church services countless times. Even more than that, I’ve said them at the close of scores of personal prayers during my alone times with the Lord. But what do they really mean? That’s what I’ve been exploring with my last couple of posts. Thus far we’ve established two things. First, praying in Jesus’ name is something only a true Christian can do. Second, it involves praying in submission to God’s will.
Now, the third thing I want to say about praying in Jesus’ name is this: To pray in Jesus’ name is to pray in the authority of Jesus. When a United States ambassador travels to a foreign country, he doesn’t greet people on the basis of his own authority. He greets them on the basis of the considerable authority of the President of the United States of America. This gives the ambassador much more clout than he has on his own. This is a concept that Jesus Himself understands perfectly. During his earthly life, He was always quick to say that He taught and did His miracles based upon the authority of His heavenly Father. Okay, in the same general way, when a Christian prays in Jesus’ name, that Christian evokes an authority greater than his own.
Imagine me taking my requests to God the Father through prayer and saying, “And you have to honor my requests, heavenly Father, because this is Russell talking.” If angels can be sarcastic, there would probably be one standing beside the Father’s heavenly throne saying, “Ooh, we’re so impressed.” I mean, think about it, there are times when I can’t even get my two boys to do what I ask them to do! That’s why I’d be well advised to do my praying in the authority of Jesus. You see, that kicks everything about my prayer into a much higher gear. Praying “in Jesus’ name” is as different from praying “in Russell’s name” as day and night.
Someone asks, “But just how much authority does Jesus have?” I’ll answer that with a Bible verse. Matthew 28:18 reads:
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
Well, you certainly can’t get any more authority than that, can you? Be sure to notice too that Christ’s authority covers not only the earth but also heaven. Remember, Christian, that heaven, God the Father’s throne, is where your prayers are headed. Understanding this helps us dive a little deeper into the infinite depths of Hebrews 4:16, which says to Christians:
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Far too often we Christians are needlessly timid when we talk to God the Father. We’re like the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz as he approaches the great Oz. And, truth be told, if we try to approach the Father’s throne on the basis of our own authority, we should be every bit as mousy as that lion. Ah, but when we approach His throne in the authority wrapped up in Jesus’ name that changes everything. That should turn our cowardice into courage and our bashfulness into boldness. Claim this great truth, Christian, and employ it the next time you pray.