In Defense of the Faith |

Dave Hunt

“In the Name of Jesus”: What Does It Mean?

Question: Jesus said, “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John:14:14). I’ve heard thousands of prayers that were offered, in reliance upon that promise, “in the name of Jesus” or even “in the mighty name of Jesus,” sincere prayers from simple people that were never answered. Wouldn’t these many unanswered prayers offered “in the name of Jesus” prove that Christ doesn’t or can’t keep His word?

Response: “In the name of Jesus” is not a magic formula like “Open Sesame,” which merely had to be spoken once in order for the secret door to the thieves’ treasure to swing wide open. Merely repeating the words “in the name of Jesus” doesn’t make it so. For a prayer to be truly “in the name of Jesus,” it must be as He would express it if He were praying. It must be for the furtherance of His interests and to His glory. His name must be stamped on the character and engraved on the heart and life of the one praying “in His name.”

Many years ago I managed the affairs of a multimillionaire. In order to do so, I had been given the authority to act in His name. Powers of attorney giving me the right to sign his name and to conduct business in his name were registered in various counties and states. There was nothing on the face of the documents that would prevent me from making out a check for a million dollars, signing his name to it, and depositing it in my own bank account. Had I done so, however, he could have recovered from me in a court of equity.

Though the documents didn’t state it explicitly, it was understood that I had the power to use another person’s name only for his good and in his best interests, not my own. And so it is with our Lord. There are no restrictions stated in His promise that he will do whatever we ask in His name. It is understood, however, that to pray in His name is to ask as He would ask for His interests and glory.

Tragically, all too many Christians imagine that “in the name of Jesus” are magic words that, if added to a prayer, no matter how self-seeking, will enable a person to get from God whatever he or she desires. When the desired response doesn’t come from God there is often great confusion as to why earnest prayers aren’t answered, and even at times resentment against Christ for not keeping what is perceived to be His promise. James explained it well:

            Ye ask [in prayer] and receive not because ye ask amiss,

            [not to God’s glory, but] that ye may consume it upon your

            lusts (James:4:3).