by Mikel Berger
“… In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
If your eyes weren’t already open reading those words, you probably would have opened them. In our tradition, those are really common words at the end of a prayer.
A few months ago after a Connection Hour class that I had just finished teaching, a friend came up to me. I thought maybe he had a question about the lesson. Or maybe he just wanted to talk about how our weekends were going. Any of those things would have been fine and expected. But it wasn’t any of those things he wanted to discuss.
He said, “Mikel, I’ve noticed you don’t pray in Jesus’ name.”
I said, “Hey, you’re the first one to notice.”
Maybe nobody else noticed. Maybe some of you did and just didn’t say anything. For the last several years, when I have an opportunity to pray publicly, I’ve tried to not end my prayer with “In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Why would I do that?
Am I against praying in Jesus’ name? Absolutely not.
What I’m against is speaking to our Holy God in a mindless way. Whenever I get to the end of the prayer, I can easily just slap on a trite phrase to tell myself and all of you that I’m done. If I do that, I’ve turned “In Jesus’ name, Amen” into the equivalent of “Hey, I’m done here. You can open your eyes and raise your heads now.”
So I gave myself a challenge: pray in Jesus’ name without using the phrase. And see if anyone notices. It took a couple of years for someone to say something. But now that the cat is out of the bag, I want to make it clear that there are things I want you to notice about my prayers for you and on your behalf.
I want every prayer I pray, publically, in my home, or just between me and God, to be prayed in the example Christ gave us in the Lord’s Prayer. I want each prayer to be a communication between the children of God and their heavenly father. I want the prayer to be in accordance with the Bible. I want the prayer to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. And I want the prayer to be prayed in Jesus’ name. Because it is through Jesus, the holy God-man who is the perfect atonement for my sins, that I can ask anything of the God of the universe. So if I don’t pray in the name of Jesus, then I’m no better than the prophets of Baal crying out all morning and not receiving an answer (1 Kings 18:26—ask one of the kids at church if you need a refresher on the prophets of Baal). What I desire is what chapter 14 of John tells us:
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:13–14, ESV)
So I want the content of my whole prayer to convey that I am asking for these things in the name of Jesus. I don’t want that fact to be ignored by a phrase that when heard too often can be overlooked.
I pray the same thing for your prayers. Use the phrase. Or don’t. Regardless, ask your Heavenly Father to be glorified in His Son by the answers to your prayers.