A woman who lives in Texas is also a friend on my Facebook. When she posts on Facebook, she writes things like, “My handsome husband and my handsome son and my beauty queen daughter and I visited my handsome daddy at his rest home on Father’s Day in the name of Jesus. Afterwards, we went to a steakhouse and had a delicious dinner in the name of Jesus. We had a wonderful time in the name of Jesus.” Almost every sentence ends with the phrase, “in the name of Jesus.” Why she does this, I don’t know. Many Christians would find this galling and maybe ridiculous. But at least she is being more consistent than they are.
Many Christians insist that we should end our prayers with the phrase, “in the name of Jesus,” because Jesus said, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14). They understand the command, “ask anything in My name,” to mean, “tack on the phrase, ‘in the name of Jesus,’ to the end of your prayer.”
Yet these same Christians overlook Paul’s command in Col. 3:17 – “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” If asking anything in the name of Jesus means that we must tack on the phrase, “in the name of Jesus,” to the end of our prayers, does not doing all in the name of Jesus mean that we must tack on the phrase, “in the name of Jesus,” to the end of everything that we do?
Can you imagine what that would be like? What if we said, “In the name of Jesus,” every time we took a step? Every time we took a breath? Every time we said something?
Can you imagine a conversation like this:
Clayton: “Hi, Billy, in the name of Jesus. How are you today in the name of Jesus?”
Billy: “Hey, Clayton, in the name of Jesus. I am good, in the name of Jesus. How are you in the name of Jesus?”
Clayton: “I am good, also, in the name of Jesus. Will I see you in church this Sunday in the name of Jesus?”
Can you imagine the pastor trying to give his sermon on Sunday? “Good morning, people, in the name of Jesus. Let’s open our Bibles today to Col. 3:17, in the name of Jesus. Today’s topic is, ‘Doing all in the name of Jesus,’ in the name of Jesus.” No one would be able to hear him because every time the congregation took a breath, they all would be muttering, “In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus….”
I still have not figured out how we would say “in the name of Jesus” while we are sleeping.
Everyone recognizes that muttering “in the name of Jesus” every time we did something would be ridiculous and maybe even blasphemous because it would quickly become vain repetition. Yet many people insist that we should end our prayers with this phrase. How inconsistent. This is why I say that the woman in Texas is more consistent than they are. If praying in the name of Jesus means that we must tack on the phrase, “in the name of Jesus,” to the end of our prayers, then we must tack on the phrase to the end of everything we do. It’s all or nothing.
Obviously Paul did not mean that we should tack the phrase, “in the name of Jesus,” to the end of everything we did. He certainly did not tack this phrase to the end of everything that he did. Nor is there a single prayer recorded in the Bible that ends with, “We pray this in the name of Jesus,” or something similar. Nor is there a single recorded prayer from the early Church that ends with that phrase. As far as anyone has been able to determine, the first recorded prayer that ends with that phrase is a Latin prayer from the 5th century.
So what did Jesus mean when he said, “Ask anything in my name”? And what did Paul mean when he said, “Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus”?
The only time the disciples used the phrase, “in the name of Jesus,” was when they were performing miracles or casting out demons. Peter said to the man who had been lame from birth, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 4:6). A demon possessed girl followed Paul in Philippi for several days before Paul said to the demon, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her” (Acts 16:18). The disciples knew that in and of themselves they did not have the authority to perform the miracles or cast out the demons. That authority had been delegated to them by Jesus (Matt. 10:1). The phrase, “in the name of Jesus,” means, “by the authority of Jesus,” or more correctly, “by the authority delegated to me by Jesus.” The disciples used this phrase at these times because the people around them needed to know that they were performing these acts not on their own authority but on the authority of Jesus Christ, thereby passing all of the credit and glory to him.
In the Old Testament, we find Mordecai writing a decree in the name of King Ahasuerus (Esther 8:10). Mordecai in and of himself did not have the authority to write the decree, but the king had delegated his authority to Mordecai so that he could write the decree. This decree was then sent out by couriers. Whenever Caesar issued a decree, he could not just get on the television or radio and announce the new decree. Copies were made and then sent out by slaves, who ran from town to town. When a slave arrived in a town square, a trumpet was blown to gather the townspeople, and then the slave would announce, “I come to you in the name of Caesar,” meaning, “I come to you by the authority of Caesar.” The townspeople then had to treat that slave as if he were Caesar himself. So the phrase, “in the name of,” also means, “in the character of.”
Therefore, to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus means to do all in the authority and character of the Lord Jesus. It means to do all as if you were Jesus himself. That includes praying. To pray in the name of Jesus means to pray in the authority and character of Jesus. It means to pray for whatever Jesus would pray for. It means to pray as if you were Jesus himself.
Jesus said that he came in his Father’s name (John 5:43) and he did his works in his Father’s name (John 10:25), yet he did not go around muttering, “in the name of the Father.” Even so, Jesus could tell Philip that when he saw Jesus, he also saw the Father (John 14:9). So, too, what Jesus and Paul are telling us is that to do all, including praying, in the name of Jesus is not to mutter “in the name of Jesus” but to live in such a way that when people see us they see Jesus. Granted, muttering a phrase is much easier to do, but it is not Biblical, and certainly not what we have been called to do. Let’s go live as if we were Jesus himself.
Thank you so much! Even this morning, our pastors repeated “in the name of Jesus” after every prayer. I think this will be difficult to change in our church!