Jesus repeatedly taught His disciples to pray in His name (John 14:13–14; 15:16; 16:23–24). To pray in Jesus’ name is to acknowledge that our access to God in prayer comes only through Jesus. As sinners, we are separated from God and have lost fellowship with Him. Through faith in Christ alone, our fellowship with God is restored. By grace, the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ and grants us entrance into the fellowship—the prayer life—that Jesus has with His heavenly Father such that, as God’s adopted children, we are able to call Jesus’ Father our Father and to experience intimate, life-giving communion with Him (Matt. 6:9; Rom. 8:15).
When we consider our sinfulness and God’s holiness, we can be discouraged from praying. We might believe that God doesn’t want to hear from us because of our failures or that He is tired of hearing us confess the same sins or make the same requests over and over again. The good news is that when believers call on the Father in prayer, we do so in the precious name of Jesus and covered in His righteousness. The Father delights to answer anyone who calls on Him in the name of His Son. Our prayers are “accepted in the Beloved” and are heard just as clearly as the prayers spoken by the interceding Christ (Eph. 1:6; Heb. 7:25).
Such wonderful truths sometimes lead Christians to ask, Is it necessary to end every prayer with “in Jesus’ name”? Or to put it another way, Do we need to say the words “in Jesus’ name” every time we pray? I do not believe we are required to say “in Jesus’ name” every time we pray. What is important is that we acknowledge in our hearts that our access to God in prayer is only through the “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).
With that said, it is right and wise to say the words “in Jesus’ name” when we pray. To do so honors the sole mediatorial work of Jesus and thus glorifies the Father who appointed Him to be the High Priest for His people (Heb. 5:5). It also honors and expresses the work of the Spirit who, as Benjamin Morgan Palmer put it, creates a “living sympathy” between the praying saints on earth and the interceding Christ in heaven, leading us to pray with Christ, “Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6). In addition, saying “in Jesus’ name” cultivates confidence in us and those with whom we pray to approach the throne of grace boldly, knowing that our Father delights to hear and answer all who pray in the name of His Son (Heb. 4:16).
Dr. Mantle A. Nance is pastor of Ballantyne Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, N.C.