A person's name represents his or her character. To do something in a person's name means to do something that is in line with that person's character. When we do something in the name of someone else, we do it in his behalf or with her blessing. We express the person's will and rely on his authority. For instance, when an assistant calls "in the name of" his or her boss, the assistant is carrying out the boss's will (make the desired arrangements) with the boss's authority (the assistant has the right to make arrangements because of who the boss is). When we pray in Jesus' name, we do the same thing.
Praying in Jesus' name means to pray in accordance with His will based on our position in Him. We pray His will with His power. First John 5:14-15 says, "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him." We know that the will of Jesus is the same as the will of the Father (John 4:34; 5:19). Because we are praying for what God wants, it will be granted.
When we pray in Jesus' name we also pray with His blessing. Because we can claim Jesus' work on the cross for our salvation, we can approach God in prayer. Jesus is the sacrificial lamb that purifies us (John 1:29) and our high priest who represents us that we might approach God (see Hebrews 4:14-5:10). When we approach God in Jesus' name, we are claiming His redemption and therefore our worthiness to talk to God.
John 14:12-14 records Jesus saying, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 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." Some have interpreted this verse to mean that, if we end our prayers with the words "in Jesus' name," we will receive anything we want. However, this is clearly not biblical. We see from Jesus' words that praying in His name is not a magical formula; it is an expression of the posture of the heart and our position in Christ.
When we pray in Jesus' name, we pray based on our salvation in Him, according to His will, and therefore with His authority. Such a prayer brings glory to the Father.
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