Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Praying in the name of Jesus

Commonly, believers’ prayers are ended with “in the name of Jesus” (before the Amen); is praying in the name of Jesus, saying that we must end our prayer that way, “in the name of Jesus, Amen”?

A common text used to support our practice of praying in the name of Jesus is this:

John 14:13-14 - 13 And I {Jesus} will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

When we look at v14, we realize there is a case to say that there is meaning in the "in my name", otherwise, Jesus could have just said, "You may ask me for anything, and I will do it", making "in my name" superfluous.

What is praying (or asking) in the name of Jesus?

Praying in the name of Jesus is NOT about ending our prayer in the name of Jesus, as such!  But there is a place for ending our prayer in the name of Jesus.

What do I mean by praying in the name of Jesus is NOT about ending our prayer in the name of Jesus?

I often said Lordship is NOT blind, and by that I mean there is no such thing as calling somebody Lord when nobody is being addressed.  The Lord is NOT nobody, like “thin air”.  You don’t call “thin air”, Lord!  It is the same when it comes to prayer; you address your prayer to somebody.  The Christian faith is NOT “The Secret”.

“The Secret” is touted as the secret way to success, by its followers.  In this “The Secret”, the “theology” is that your thoughts attract the things you want; there is no God or Lord there; the universe will align itself to give you what you want if you keep thinking and wanting the thing that you want!  Subscribers purported no God (and so, believers CANNOT subscribe to this).  Well, if I may say, the subscriber himself is the “god”, and the universe is at his beck and call!

Coming back, we, believers, cannot be praying to “thin air” or the universe.  If an atheist still pray, maybe he prays to an unknown (body) {People of Athens, during the time of the Apostle Paul did pray to unknown god – Acts 17:23}, but we, believers, we have God (the Father, the Son [Jesus Christ], and the Holy Spirit).  So, when we pray, we are praying to our God.  There is only one (God), unless you have multiple ones, which of course, you are NOT supposed to have, if you are indeed a believer.  So, it goes without saying when we are praying, we are praying to our God.  And so, even if we mention NOT Jesus Christ in our prayer, if in your heart you are talking to the Lord, He knows. 

But of course, if you are talking to, say, your daddy or the President, it may be improper, NOT to address your daddy or the President?  And so, we don’t use “you” throughout our prayer or conversation with God.  For example, we would say, “Lord, I ask of you …..” (and NOT “You, I ask you ….”); or in emergency, you could straightaway say, “God, help me”.  The point is that there is the addressee, and NOT we address nobody or the universe. 

The concept of “unto” is important, but the issue is we, men, are often the ones who fail to do things as “unto the Lord”, but it is NOT the Lord does NOT know if you are praying to Him or NOT, or that, what you are doing, you are doing or NOT doing it, unto Him or in acknowledgment of Him.  But there is nothing wrong with us still naming Jesus, the Lord or God, in our own private prayers (praying alone, by yourself), even ending our prayers in Jesus’ name; I still do that, ending private prayers, sometimes, in the name of Jesus or “In your name” (when I have been addressing Jesus).  Again, I say, the point is NOT the Lord does NOT know if you are praying to Him or NOT.  Even, the one word prayer, “Jesus”, the Lord knows and would respond.  There are occasions where we are “choked” and only one word could be uttered, and that word, as testified by many (including myself), is the word, “Jesus”, and God’s help can come immediate.

What about in public; should we end our prayer in the name of Jesus? Firstly, if it is still NOT obvious to you, if you, a believer, do NOT end your prayer in the name of Jesus, it does NOT mean your prayer is any less effective than one that has the ending of “in the name of Jesus”, when in fact, your inward posture has been right.  But it is good to end that way or in a similar way, why?

When we say, publicly, it means there are other people around.  Now, if you are like me, hold to the word of Jesus in Scripture (Matt 18:19), “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”, by ending with “in the name of Jesus”, we hope to achieve these ends: 

1.   It is firstly a sign that you are ending your prayer, so that other CHRISTIANS can indicate agreement with you, by saying “Amen” to what you have prayed.

2.   In a mixed setting when it is NOT apparent that you who are praying, are a Christian, and you use only NOT, Jesus, in the body of your prayer, by ending the prayer in Jesus’ name, you are letting the people (both Christians and non-Christians) to know if they want to agree with you.  For example, for a (civic) community meeting, if a Chinese is asked to pray, he is NOT necessarily a Christian, he could be a Buddhist, and there could other Buddhists in the meeting.  But if you, a Christian Chinese given the honor to pray, you have to pray to God (your God – the “Christian God”), and NOT to any generic god, or you try to “NOT to disclose your faith”.  Also, we do NOT need non-believers or other religious people to mistakenly agree with us.

I do NOT agree with some believers who say that their reason (which they think is valid) is that they are right to be inclusive, to get as many people to “amen” to the prayer.  In substance, if you are doing that with that thinking, you are holding up God to be the generic god or the god behind all religions is the same God; it is an unacceptable insinuation of God.

I would consider doing this, instead, to be sensitive to other people’s feeling: Before I begin, I will, if the setting is such that it is mixed or it is NOT obvious that I am a Christian, to say, “Before I begin to pray, I would like to let you know that I am a Christian and so, I will be praying to my Lord and God (or to Jesus)”.  I will follow it with, “Is that alright with you?  If there is objection, I can then turn to the “whoever” who put me up to pray for the occasion.  If there is no objection, then, really, whether or NOT, I end my prayer with “in the name of Jesus”, is no longer a matter of being inclusive or otherwise; or for that matter, whether or NOT, Jesus is mentioned at all, is no longer relevant (as the God I pray to, is already made known).

What if the “whoever” then ask if I could “pray generally”?  Now, if the context is such that it is referring to “if I could pray to a general god”, the answer is obvious - no.  I do have to be tactful, and so, one suggestion to resolve the impasse could be to suggest “we will have a minute of silence, and everyone can pray [each to pray to his own]”, so that I could get out of the situation of praying to a generic god or holding out that a Christian can “bend” to be praying to a generic god.  If there are other suggestions by others, it is then left to the “whoever” to decide.  The point is that we must NOT dishonour God, if it is up to us.  Other people, if they want to do whatever, that is up to them, but we cannot follow, if it is against our faith.


Then, there is this: That the prayer we utter or offer up, is offered with a certain posture, and so, we are NOT only looking for agreement of what we pray, we are also looking for agreement in the certain posture with which we are offering up the prayer and supplication, and so, it is in good order that we say it – “in the name of Jesus”.

What is this certain posture, and so, the embedded meaning, encapsulated in the “in the name of Jesus”?  For the context of prayer, it is that we are making supplication by faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ, trusting and depending on Him. 

In other words, we are petitioning with a humble heart, that we are posturing that the Lord is majestic, yet He is mindful of us and cares for us, when we are but works of His hands.  That we are saying we are relying on His authority, power and ways.  When we say “in his name or in the name of Jesus”, we are saying that we will hope against hope, and endure through troubles, meanwhile; that we are confident of His love towards us; that we trust His wisdom and ability, that He knows what is best, even though we are asking; that we do NOT doubt He is in control, and that He is dependable, for He changes NOT (of His character, key of which is holiness, and so, from that, righteousness and justice). 

It is in the same spirit of how Jesus prayed before he was captured to be crucified, Luke 22:42 - “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.  We make supplication concerning our situation, because we believe the Lord is mindful and cares for us, yet we submit to what He wants or wants NOT, to do, or His will, because we believe His will is prefect, even if it may NOT appear to be perfect from our personal standpoint; we trust that ultimately we will be comforted.

All believers can expect ultimately they will be comforted, if NOT in this life, in after-life, when they have conformed to who God is.

I said above that, even if you did NOT include “in the name of Jesus” at the end of your prayer, it is NOT less effective, if your inward posture has indeed been right.  And so, what is also important to note, therefore, is that it is the inward posture that must first be there. 

The inward posture can manifest in more than one way, outwardly, and so, it is NOT one reverent outward posture to look for, and it is NOT by the absence of that one reverent outward posture that we can conclude that someone is or is NOT praying with the right posture.  Examples of reverent outward praying posture included these: some people kneel/postrate (Luke 22:41; Matt 26:39), some stand and look upward (John 11:41), some may spread out their hands (Isaiah 1:15), etc. 

Is it necessarily to pray with eyes closed or head bowed? No, it is NOT a must.  I often prayed with eyes open, for people, so that when they fall (slain), I know or could “break” their fall.  Prayers with eyes open, is NOT less effective!  Had I closed my eyes when I prayed for the person who had his leg grown longer by the Lord, I would have missed seeing a miracle (by my hand) with my own eyes!  When I pray with eyes closed or head bowed, it is for reason of minimizing distractions.

Having said that it is the inward posture that is more important, yet we must remember, if nothing shows up at all, outwardly, you got to check yourself if indeed your inward posture has been right.  Don’t engage in self-deception.  Just as an illustration, are you sure you love the Lord, if you go NOT, to church to worship Him, and you also worship NOT, in (good) works, and you read NOT, His Word, pray NOT, and you obey NOT, His commands habitually?  I mean you can be, NOT doing one or more of the right things here, once in a while, but you cannot be engaging NOT, in all of the right things here, on a persistent basis, and still insist that you love the Lord.  Also, there are the obvious contrary things, like people in the pews are praying, and you are nail-cutting in the pew!; how is nail-cutting (or playing game on your hand-phone) a reverent outward manifestation of a right inward praying posture?   Don’t laugh, it happened.

In His name,
Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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