Why pray in Jesus’ name?

One good reason for praying in Jesus’ name is John 14:13 when Jesus said, “I will do whatever you ask in my name.” But why did he say “ask in my name,” rather than “I’ll do whatever you ask of me”?

Because Jesus was a Jew, and in the Hebrew culture a person was defined by his name. It revealed his character, for instance (like Jacob the “heel grabber”). God also changed people’s names to describe his purpose for them (like changing Abram to Abraham), so when John says in 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God,” that name for Jesus jumps out as highly significant too, and especially when it’s tied in with “the assurance we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (verse 14).

The Father guarantees his instant and intimate attention when we believe in the name “Son of God” for Jesus. But why that name in particular? What does it mean?

To the Jews in Jesus’ day it meant the Messiah (Luke 4:41), the Anointed One (or Christ) that their scriptures predicted would rescue and restore them as a nation, bring them back into close relationship with him, and establish his worldwide kingdom through them. The name “Messiah,” therefore, was all the assurance the Jews needed that God had heard their prayers for deliverance and he would come through as promised. What kept them hanging on and trusting God was that name “Son of God” and what it meant.

But it meant a great deal more when God announced Jesus as “my Son, whom I love” (Mark 1:11). Suddenly the name “Son of God” meant Jesus was literally God’s Son, that God was a Father/Son relationship – and what’s more, that “The Father loves the Son” so much he “has placed everything in his hands,” John 3:35.

The name “Son of God” now stood for the Father’s total trust in his beloved Son to fulfill his purpose for humanity. And when we believe that, that our lives are utterly safe in Jesus’ hands, the Father loves us for it. “He who loves me,” Jesus said in John 14:21, “will be loved by my Father.” The Father loves us for trusting his Son. We can be absolutely assured, then, that when we approach the Father with that meaning of the “Son of God” in mind, the Father hears our prayers and he’ll come through as promised for us too.

So just like the Jews in Jesus’ day we too hang in there, knowing God hears our prayers, because of that name “Son of God” and what it means.

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