Focal Passage: John 14:12-14; 15:14-16; 16:23-26
What’s in a name? I am named after my father and our son, Marcus, is named after my wife’s great-great grandfather who fought in the Civil War and was a member of one of local churches in the 1850’s. In Rwanda and Burundi (as well as other African nations) when an individual becomes a Christian, he or she receives a new name signifying the new birth they have experienced.
Names are more than identifying labels we place upon one another. They serve as a part of “who we are” — our personality marker. It implies an individual authority, character, rank, majesty, power, excellence and attributes. According to Hans Bietenhard, “The name carries will and power.”
Knowing His name is important. The Lord promises to respond when He is properly called upon. His very name is a gift of revelation and not an instrument of incantation (Bietenhard). Use of His name implies faith in Him and His power; it is a pledge of His saving presence and denotes His glory.
In the gospels, the name of Jesus denotes His divine purpose and mission. He is Immanuel — “God with us.” His name, Jesus, means “Yahweh is salvation, or Savior.” According to Bietenhard, to pray in His name (according to His will, on His commission, and with invocation of His name) is to believe that Jesus has come from the Father and that the Father hears each prayer for His sake. To pray in Jesus’ name is to become an active part of His mission.
To pray in Jesus’ name is to experience two important truths: first, it is to recognize that Jesus is present among the pray-ers. The works that He has done will be done and greater works still by those who abide in Him. Praying in His name recognizes His continuing presence among believers. Secondly, praying in His name recognizes that Jesus continues to powerfully intercede for those who pray. Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Him; Jesus is returning to the Father (John 14:12; 16:5) and now “anything you ask from the Father He will grant in my name” (16:23).
I was returning from teaching in Brazil and wanted to change my plane seat. When I spoke with the clerk I did not receive much help. But when I asked to check the status of my “Sky miles,” the clerk suddenly treated me differently — I was a part of the family and now better seating miraculously appeared. It was only when I asked in the name of that particular airline that I was empowered to enjoy and receive special attention.
When we pray in the name of Jesus, according to His will and His commission, we can expect an answer. As Barclay writes, “The prayer which can stand the test … in the end says, thy will be done, is always answered.”