Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Should I Pray in Jesus’ Name?

Do you remember learning how to pray? Perhaps your parents taught you to pray before you went to bed. “God, thank you for my brother even though I don’t like him. Thank you for my dog…” Maybe your parents or Sunday school teachers also taught you to pray “in Jesus’ name.” Did you know that none of the recorded prayers in the Bible include the phrase “in Jesus’ name”? Yet we often end every prayer in Jesus’ name.

Wayne Grudem explains praying “in Jesus’ name” aptly in his work Bible Doctrine. The following excerpt is taken from page 161 of his book.

“Does this mean that it is wrong to add ‘in Jesus’ name’ to the end of our prayers? It is certainly not wrong, as long as we understand what is meant by it and that it is not necessary to do so. There may be some danger, however, if we add this phrase to every public or private prayer we make, for very soon it will become to people simply a formula to which they attach very little meaning and say without thinking about it. It may even begin to be viewed, at least by younger believers, as sort of a magic formula that makes prayer more effective. To prevent such misunderstanding, it would probably be wise to decide not to use the formula frequently and to express the same thought in other words or simply in the overall attitude of and approach we take toward prayer. For example, prayers could begin, ‘Father, we come to you in the authority of our Lord Jesus, your son…’ or, ‘Father, we do not come on our own merits but on the merits of Jesus Christ, who has invited us to come before you…’ or, ‘Father, we thank you for forgiving our sins and giving us access to your throne by the work of Jesus your Son…’ At other times even these formal acknowledgments should not be thought necessary, so long as our hearts continually realize that it is our Savior who enables us to pray to the Father at all. Genuine prayer is conversation with a person whom we know well and who knows us. Such genuine conversation between persons who know each other never depends on the use of certain formulas or required words, but is a matter of sincerity in our speech and in our heart, a matter of right attitudes, and a matter of the condition of our spirit.”