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« What Does It Mean to Pray in the Name of Jesus? Section 2 | Home | An Unsettling Price Tag »

Should Christians Say “In Jesus’ Name” at the End of Our Prayers?

By Mark D. Roberts | Friday, January 16, 2009

Part 4 of series: Rick Warren, the Obama Inauguration, and Praying in Jesus’ Name
Permalink for this post / Permalink for this series

In this series I intend to answer the question of whether or not Rick Warren should say “in Jesus’ name” at the end of his invocation in the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States. But, as is typical for my blog, I didn’t jump to a quick answer to that question. I began with looking at what the Bible teaches about praying in the name of Jesus. As it turns out, Jesus himself taught his followers to pray in his name. But that does not refer to the words they say at the end of their prayers. Rather, to pray in Jesus’ name is to pray in his authority and according to his mission. Jesus never taught his disciples to say “in Jesus’ name” at the end of their prayers, and this practice is not seen in the New Testament prayers of the early church.

The biblical material I’ve surveyed points to a question I’d like to address before finally getting to the issue of Warren’s inaugural prayer. Should we Christians say “in Jesus’ name” at the end of our prayers? Given that there is no biblical requirement for this, is it something we should do? Or is it some traditional practice that we should leave behind?

The danger of saying “in Jesus’ name” at the end of our prayers is thinking that somehow this practice makes our prayers more effective. The phrase “in Jesus’ name” becomes, for us, an incantation, magic words we use to produce a particular effect. I do think this danger exists, because I once believed that I had to say “in Jesus’ name” or something similar at the end of my prayers in order for God to hear them. I don’t remember whether I was taught this by one of my Sunday School teachers at church, or whether I thought it up by myself on the basis of what I observed at church. Nevertheless, for me, praying in Jesus’ name was no more or no less than saying “in Jesus’ name, Amen” before I opened my eyes and went about my business.

Is this really so bad? Well, there certainly are worse things than thinking of “in Jesus’ name” as magic words. But if Christians think they way, they may not realize the deeper and more wonderful meaning of “in Jesus’ name.” They may not understand and celebrate their access to God’s throne of grace through Jesus. And they may not realize that their prayers should reflect Jesus’ agenda, rather than their own selfish interests.

Perhaps a greater problem is that Christians might live under a legalistic interpretation of praying in Jesus’ name, whereby they think that the words “in Jesus’ name” must be used or God will not hear their prayers. Worse still, some Christians might judge other Christians who, for whatever reason, choose not to say “in Jesus’ name” before “Amen.” I have observed this kind of thing and it’s too bad. It misses the true meaning of Jesus’ teaching and it divides the body of Christ. Given what we have seen in Scripture, it’s clear that Christians are certainly free in Christ not to say “in Jesus’ name” when they pray. Judging those who omit this phrase is a mistake.

So, given the potential downside of saying “in Jesus’ name,” is there an upside? Yes, I think so. If I know what it actually means to pray in Jesus’ name, then saying the words “in Jesus’ name” could serve as a reminder to me, and to any who might hear me, of my standing before God as I pray. Moreover, it could also encourage me to pray according to Jesus’ mission. Additionally, if a praying community regularly says “in Jesus’ name” or some equivalent in their prayers, it potentially keeps their focus in the right place. It’s as if they are saying to each other: “We are here because of Jesus. We are able to approach God in prayer because of Jesus. We are seeking to pray that which honors and glorifies him. Let the will of Jesus be done here.”

But what should we do when we’re praying in a more open setting, in which many of those gathered are not Christians? This is the challenge facing Rick Warren next Tuesday. I’ll begin to offer my thoughts on Monday (too late to help our Rick, I’m afraid :)).

Topics: Praying in Jesus's Name |

13 Responses to “Should Christians Say “In Jesus’ Name” at the End of Our Prayers?”

  1. Quotidian Grace Says:
    January 16th, 2009 at 6:32 am

    Thank you for this interesting series! I wish I had it available to me last year when I was asked to give the invocation at a community gathering that included many non-Christian folks. I wrestled with this issue and finally closed the prayer in the name of God rather than Jesus.

  2. “Should Christians say ‘In Jesus’ Name’ at the end of our prayers?” | The Daily Scroll Says:
    January 16th, 2009 at 9:39 am

    […] “Should Christians say ‘In Jesus’ Name’ at the end of our prayers?” January 16, 2009 Mark D. Roberts […]

  3. e. barrett Says:
    January 16th, 2009 at 10:21 am

    If I were in a public setting making that prayer I would ask myself, “how will this be interpreted?” If I think it will offend more people (in a way that drives them away from God) I’d probably leave it off. Especially since there is no Biblical requirement.

    However if I thought it would clarify who I was talking to, and challenge people to examine their own beliefs, I’d end with “in Jesus’ name.”

    Frankly I’m not sure what Rick Warren should do. He’s in a unique situation. I would probably end with “in Jesus’ name” but if he doesn’t, I personally wouldn’t be upset, nor believe he missed out on some great evengelical opportunity.

  4. Wickle Says:
    January 16th, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    There will be huge segments of people who come down on Warren like a ton of bricks if he doesn’t say their “magic words,” as you put it.

    There’s this funny thing about Christianity — it isn’t about legalism, ritual, and following the proper steps in order to be pleasing to God.

  5. Some thoughts (that are other people’s) | Ground of Being Says:
    January 16th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    […] Should Christians Say “In Jesus’ Name” at the End of Our Prayers? […]

  6. RevK Says:
    January 16th, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Christian prayers should be Trinitarian.

    We should pray without ceasing.

    We don’t have a prayer unless we do :)

  7. dcwheel Says:
    January 17th, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Is this issue and issue because Christians increasingly are living in a hostile environment and we must choose between being liked or being faithful?

  8. Steve Says:
    January 17th, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    How about, “and I ask all this as one who is attempting to walk in the way the truth and the life”..

  9. Scott Says:
    January 26th, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Jesus says “And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
    (John 14:13-14 NKJV). He also said “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33). Then Christ goes on to say “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:38). I think Pastor Warren did a great job at letting this nation know that we, as a “Christian nation”, pray “in JESUS name”. Everyone who has a tough time saying that please watch “shocking youth message” by Paul Washer on you tube (58min. 58sec). Then I challenge you to come back here and comment on it.

  10. bipolar2 Says:
    February 16th, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I ask God that he rid me of God. Meister Eckhart

  11. Rose Says:
    December 3rd, 2009 at 11:54 am

    It is in Jesus name that every knee should bend. We need to acknowlege Jesus role in our lives and give credit to the one who died for us that we may gain everlasting life. We can only get our prayers to Jehovah thru Jesus. He is our mediator and pleads for us. Truth is truth and lies are lies and there are lots of lies in the Catholic religion. She will be among the first false religion to be destroyed when the Great Tribulation strikes.

  12. johnny mccollum Says:
    May 11th, 2011 at 4:52 am

    Very intresting comments on this subject.If you will read in the King James Verson of the Bible you will be instructed to say AFTER YOU PRAY TO GOD THAT HE wants US TO PRAY IN THE NAME OF THE SON JESUS. These instructions come to us in the book of JOHN:CHAPTER 14 VERSE 6 ALSO JOHN:CHAPTER 14 VERSE 13 AND 14.Its very clear in (black and white) what he wants us to do.We sould not be afraid to do this just to satisfy those who arn”t Christians or those who don’t believe Jusus is the son of GOD.

  13. LENRAY GANDY Says:
    August 2nd, 2011 at 8:13 am

    I don’t think this is an important topic whether we pray in Jesus name or not. It will not harm or hurt or kill you if you do or do not. If it causes someone to have greater faith and believe in the prayer because they say in his name, that is a good thing, don’t you think so?


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