“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And 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 14:12-14, NIV).
When it comes to prayer, perhaps the first thing we learn after “Amen” is “in the name of Jesus.” Yet, it seems that very often, just as with Amen, the praying on behalf of Jesus is not completely understood by the believer. What does it mean to pray in the name of Jesus? Why do I have to pray this way, and what conditions are there to it?
In the context of the passage from John, Jesus is talking to his disciples about Him being the only way to the Father and His unity with Him. This is key to understanding the prayer in Jesus’ name because it establishes the foundation – the divine authority and power which is found in Jesus, and upon which we rely as we pray to Him.
At this point Jesus also gives the condition for prayer in His name – one’s faith in Him. When believers witness miracles and supernatural experiences, it is not by their power or abilities that they occur. It is through their faith in Christ that these thing happen. Faith is, thus, the door opener for God’s power in our lives.
In Luke 8:48 Jesus told the woman with the bleeding: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” Should she have had no faith, she would not have even come close to Jesus, not talking about touching him. Jesus makes it very clear here, that it is not due to the touch itself that the miracle happened, but because of the faith with which the touch was made. As Peter tried to explain to Jesus – the whole crows was pressing on him… far too many people were touching him. Yet, healing power was released only to the woman who touched him with faith that she will be healed.
Just a few moments later, the news of a dead girl reach Jesus’ ears. Observe carefully His response: “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed” (Luke 8:50, NIV).
In Matthew 8:10, as a response to the recognition of his authority and power in faith by the Roman military officer, Jesus replies “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” and later on continues, “It will be done just as you believed it would.” How liberating it is to know that God’s power in our lives is not dependent on our social status, knowledge, or physical abilities!
If you take the time to go through the miracles of Jesus recorded in the Gospels you will notice that on almost all occasions supernatural things happened only after a response of faith was given by the people in need.
Back in John 14, a powerful, yet very often misused statement is found: “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” Very often we are tempted to take the first half of this sentence and demand action from God, because He said it. Yet, the key part of this statement is in the second half – Jesus will only act on our behalf if we have faith in Him, AND what we are asking for will result in glorifying God. Thus, once cannot expect that Jesus will be our miracle puppet and do all kind of things for us, none of which is within God’s will. Therefore, seek God’s will too, and in your prayers – stay within it.
Lastly, as you pray properly in the name of Jesus, know that an ever-present and all-powerful God is after your need. Jesus said that He Himself will do what you ask Him for! The beauty of this statement is not only in the intimacy it speaks about (that Jesus is personally concerned with your needs), but also in the assurance it provides. Just as Jesus never failed in healing or raising people from the dead in the New Testament, he will not fail in healing and providing for you, so that you may live a life worthy of His presence.
Thus, next time you pray, don’t just rush over the phrase “In Jesus’ Name”, but mediate on it and allow the Spirit to encourage and strengthen you through the meaning of it, and the simple fact that you are allowed to use it.