We continue our study of the conditions of answered prayer by focusing on the often-misunderstood phrase “in my name”. During the last supper, Jesus told the Apostles: “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14 NIV)
Before we explore what this phrase means, let’s discuss what is does not mean, and you’ll see why I say this phrase is misunderstood by many Christians.
I don’t think Jesus is saying we must actually speak the words “in Jesus name” when we pray. As John MacArthur points out, this “does not mean to tack such an expression at the end of prayer as a mere formula.”
There is ample biblical evidence to support this statement. First, consider the fact that when Jesus taught his disciples to pray in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4, He did not include the words “in Jesus’ name” in these model prayers.
Second, actual prayers of New Testament Christians as recorded in the New Testament do not include the words “in Jesus’ name”. Two examples: the prayer of the Jerusalem church in Acts 4:24-30 does not use the phrase; and when Stephen prayed to Jesus while being stoned to death, the phrase “in Jesus’ name” isn’t used (Acts 7:59-60).
So what does it mean to pray “in Jesus’ name”? The answer is found in the last part of John 14:13 – “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” To pray in the name of Jesus means to pray in such a way that God is glorified by the prayer – with respect to the manner in which the prayer is offered as well as what is being requested. Jesus is saying that God promises to answer our prayers only if how we pray and what we are praying for result in the glory of God being displayed.
In other words, we could paraphrase John 14:14 like this: You may ask me for anything that glorifies Me, and I will do it.
This interpretation makes sense when you consider the meaning of the phrase “the name of God” throughout Scripture. In the book of Psalms there are numerous references to “the name of God” which are synonyms for “the glory of God.” Consider these examples:
Psalm 8:1 (NIV) O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
Psalm 148:13 (NASB) Let them praise the name of the Lord, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven.
Not only is “the name” of God synonymous with the glory of God, the psalmists also use the expression interchangeably with the person of God Himself. We are to: love the name (Psalm 5:11), praise the name (Psalm 7:17), know the name (Psalm 9:10), and trust the name (Psalm 20:7).
So, when we are commanded to pray “in Jesus’ name”, there’s much more at stake than reciting the words.
God is telling us to put our prayers to The Glory Test. Do your prayers pass the test?
Before asking God for something, ask yourself this question: “If God answers this prayer, will He be glorified?”