“In Jesus’ Name”
Misquote: Using “In Jesus’ Name” to justify a ‘name it and claim it’ way of thinking or believing it’s a necessary closure to prayer. Here’s the misused reference:
Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so 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.
Let’s tackle the easy one first. We have a lot of habits that aren’t necessarily harmful but come about as a result of tradition or conditioning. For instance, we feel strangely compelled to say “God bless you!” when someone sneezes even though there’s no good reason to say it. The irresistible urge is born of conditioning. Although the source is believed to have been from the middle ages and related to the outbreak of plague in Europe, the truth is that it serves no useful purpose. It’s just habit.
The same holds true for closing our prayers with, “In Jesus’ Name.” The prayer of a righteous person said with the right motives needs no opening or closure as if it were a properly formatted letter crafted for God.
Taken completely and in context, the Bible teaches us these things about effective prayer:
– We must ask with the right motives (Luke 18:1-7; James 4:3)
– We must primarily seek the kingdom of heaven and the will of God (the reconciliation of Him with His creation) (Matthew 6:33; 1John 5:14)
– We must be actively involved in our covenant with our Christ, obedient, and, again, asking for the right things for the right reasons (1John 3:21-22 – we receive what we ask for because we’re obedient); John 15:7 (if you abide in me and me in you, you’ll receive . . .)
So why bring it up as a misquote? Education, really. Its use is nothing more than a harmless misunderstanding in this particular case. After all, a righteous prayer will be effective regardless of its formatting (i.e. James 5:16).
However, there’s a more serious abuse of this reference!
Before I go on, it might be good to explain what Jesus meant when He said, “. . . in My name.” Name, here, is defined by Strong’s as ‘authority’ or ‘character’. So, what Jesus said could well have been interpreted like, “Whatever you ask for on my authority – that will I do . . .” Our prayers should, therefore, represent the desires of our God and Christ.
In fact, the rest of John 14:13 reminds us that what we’re asking for, and what our Christ is giving us, is for the glorification of God and accomplishment of His will – desire – not ours! So, the abuse of this text to support a selfish name-it-and-claim-it doctrine is a travesty and a complete departure from Jesus’ intended message.
To sum up this misquote, our prayers don’t need any particular wording, format, or closure. They’re either righteous prayers . . . or not. And, a righteous prayer consists of components focused on our God and Christ and the pursuit of God’s will – not ours.
May our God richly bless you and answer your effective prayers because you seek Him first and are obedient out of your faith.