I’ve spent most of my life ending my prayers with, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” It was what I was taught, and truth be told, I almost looked at it as a sort of magic formula. If I wanted God to hear me, I prayed “In Jesus’ name.” If I didn’t pray in his name, I couldn’t be sure God would honor my request.
After all, Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in my name I will do … ” (John 14:13). Somehow, though, I don’t think this is about merely saying the right words to end our prayers. I think it’s more about being in positive fellowship with Jesus.
Jesus told us when two or more are gathered in his name, he is present (Matthew 18:19-20); and “Whoever welcomes a child in my name, welcomes me.” I think that praying in Jesus’ name is praying in the same spirit and heart as Jesus would pray, that is, a heart of love, of kindness, forgiveness, mercy and hope.
I think it’s also acknowledging that we come to the throne of the Father because Jesus is the one who takes us there. It’s also acknowledging that we want God’s will to be done and not merely our own.
It’s never wrong to end a prayer, “In Jesus’ name,” of course. It’s a reminder that our lives, our worship and our requests are all centered on him. At the same time, it’s not essential to end a prayer by saying these exact words. What is essential is that our heart is oriented toward and centered on Jesus—on who he is for us and who we are to him.
Jesus is focused on us, even on all those who don’t even yet know him as the one who loves them, forgives them and reconciles them to the Father.
So now when I end my prayers with “in Jesus’ name,” I mean a whole lot more than just some little set of magic words. I’m reminding myself that Jesus is right there with me, taking up my feeble little prayers as his own, redeeming them and presenting them to the Father.
What peace, what rest, what certain hope! Jesus is my all in all, even in my prayers.
Rick Shallenberger, 2011