What does it mean to pray in the name of Christ?
How many times do you hear tacked onto the end of a prayer the phrase, “In Jesus’s name we pray (or, ‘in the name of Christ’). Amen.”? How many times do we say it ourselves?
If we’re not careful, it’s easy for that phrase to just roll off our prayer tongues out of habit instead of feeling the deep inspiration the words signify.
There’s nothing wrong with these words and much that’s right, but does just repeating the words, “in the name of Jesus” or “in Christ’s name” mean we’re actually doing it?
What does it really mean to pray in Christ’s name?
The Greek word for “name,” onoma, means, literally or figuratively, authority or character.
It comes from the base of a root word that means “to know.”
So, to pray in the name of Jesus means you must know him. Not just know about him. It’s to pray with his authority, with his character, and as I like to say on The Bible Speaks to You Podcast, with his mindset. Paul said, “we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Praying with the mind of Christ
Do we use the mind of Christ when we pray or do we use our own self-oriented human minds? Do we pray with our own heart or the heart of Christ?
In the Bible, when you do something in someone’s name, you are doing it as the full representative of that person. For example, if the king sends a messenger in his name to give a command, it has the same authority and must be obeyed as if the king had delivered it in person.
When we pray in the name of Jesus, do we feel the same spiritual authority that Jesus would have felt if he had prayed that prayer? That’s the legacy he has given us. It is our heritage as children of God and “fellow heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:17)
To pray in Christ’s name, in Christ’s character and authority, is to subjugate your will to God’s will, to work for God’s glory not your own, to be conscious of and value your relationship with the Father as Jesus did.
In the Father’s name
Jesus knew God had sent him to preach and heal. He said,
For I have come to you in my Father’s name, John 5:43 NLT
Just as Jesus tells us to pray and do things in his name, he came and did all his mighty works in the Father’s name.
In other words, as God’s representative, everything Jesus did was with the full authority and character of God.
If we do everything in the name of Christ, and Jesus did everything in the name of the Father, then we too are doing everything in the name of the Father as well.
Looking through Jesus’s eyes
To pray, or act, or heal in the name of Jesus is to see the world through Jesus’s eyes. To love the world with Jesus’s heart. It means to see what is true in the kingdom of heaven here and now, even though we can’t see it with the five material senses.
To pray, or act, or heal in the name of Jesus is to see that sin and disease, misery and suffering, are not God’s will for His children.
It’s the absolute conviction that God will hear and answer your prayer.
The name Jesus
If we’re going to pray in Jesus’s name, what does the name Jesus actually mean?
It’s the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means “Jehovah is salvation.” Then, to pray in the name of Jesus means to pray with the full assurance and conviction that God saves us.
Sometimes we hear the similar phrase, “We ask this in Christ’s name.” The name Christ is Greek for the Hebrew word Messiah which means “anointed one.”
When you pray, is it with the anointing of Christ? Do you feel the power and inspiration of God’s anointing love for His Christ?
Do you feel God’s love for you? Are you moved beyond words with His love for all mankind? Do you feel deep, spiritual, healing compassion for the multitudes as Jesus did?
When you do, you will pray in the name of Christ. Everything you do will be in the name, the spirit, of Christ.
And when I say “Do you feel these things?”, I don’t mean an emotional feeling. I mean “Do you experience God’s love and presence in your life?”
Who do you pray to?
It’s also a matter of knowing who you pray to, Jesus or God? You may think it’s all the same thing. But Jesus is very specific in how he tells his followers to pray.
In the Lord’s Prayer, he instructs us to pray to “Our Father.” (Matthew 6:9) That’s who Jesus prayed to. If we are going to follow his example, then we need to pray to the Father.
But how often do you hear people praying to Jesus? How often do you pray directly to Jesus?
I know this may ruffle a few feathers here, but this is not what Jesus wanted us to do. He even said,
In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.
No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. John 16:23, 26, 27 NIV
If you really love Jesus and want to obey him, you won’t pray to him.
That may seem a little counterintuitive for some folks, doesn’t it?
Now, if you want to pray to Jesus, I’m not going to stop you. But he has a higher lesson for us to learn here in telling us to pray to the Father instead of him.
Praying in the name of Christ
To pray in the name of Jesus, with his authority and character, with “the mind of Christ,” is to go directly to the Father. That’s what Jesus did.
And he wants us to go directly to that same source of power, of love, of grace. Jesus makes it clear he is not that source, but the Way through which we reach it.
Jesus wants us to experience love directly from God just as he did: “the Father himself loves you.”
As far as praying in the name of Jesus the way he really intended, it may feel we have a long way to go on this. But I know you’ve probably had moments where your prayers truly have been in the name of Jesus, in the spirit and character and authority of Christ, with God’s love and your love flowing without measure. Cherish those moments. They are the milestones in our obedience to Jesus.
Healing in the name of Christ
Let’s look at an example from the Bible when the disciples prayed and acted in the name of Jesus and see how we can follow their example in our own lives.
When Peter and John were about to go into the Temple one day, a man who had never been able to walk was sitting at the doorway and asked them for money. Peter uttered that famous line
Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. Acts 3:6-8 NKJV
Here’s a beautiful healing done “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” Was it just saying the words, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, that healed this man?
No. I would imagine there were times when the Pharisees used Jesus’s name when they were plotting how to get rid of him. Did anyone get healed because the Pharisees said Jesus’s name out loud? I don’t think so!
Peter and John were not merely walking into the Temple wondering about what the weather was going to do, who was going to win the chariot race, or what was going to be for dinner that night. They were more likely deeply pondering, whether in conversation or quietly to themselves, the recent events of the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, not to mention what happened on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit brought thousands of people to Christ.
When Peter said, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk,” he was filled with the spirit of Christ. He was imbued with the authority of Christ, that with God all things are possible.
God’s will for healing
Peter did not pray, “God if it’s your will this man be healed…” He knew it was not God’s will for this man to suffer.
And he knew it was not his or John’s personal power or ability that healed the man.
When a crowd gathered after it was obvious that man was walking for the first time in his life,
Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness?
Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.” Acts 3:12, 16 NLT
When you think, speak, and pray in the name, the character, the mindset of Jesus, you will know who to talk to and what to say. The Holy Spirit will put the words in your mouth and the love in your heart. And you will bear witness to the power and presence of God’s love, the kingdom of heaven at hand.
Jesus told his disciples,
You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. John 14:13 NLT
People read this and think all they have to do is say Jesus’s name. But there’s so much more to it than that, as we’ve been talking about.
Jesus’s promise does not have an expiration date. His words still rush down the centuries to us.
Obviously, it’s not the words, “in the name of Jesus” that heal and bear fruit.
It’s the spirit of Christ lived in your own life. It’s humble obedience to Jesus’s commandments. It’s denying yourself, taking up your cross daily, and following the one you call Lord and Savior. (See Luke 9:23 below) It’s bearing witness to the kingdom of heaven at hand.
To pray in the name of Jesus is to pray with the mind of Christ, the love of Christ, the grace, compassion, and forgiveness of Christ. It’s to be Christ’s representative right here, right now, knowing you have full authority from God to preach and teach and heal as Jesus did.
The need of humility
You can’t do this on your own. Even Jesus realized this. He said in absolute humility, “I can do nothing on my own… the Father who dwells in me does his works.” (See John 5:30; 14:10 below)
Here is Jesus saying he can’t do anything without God’s help. Why do we think we can? To pray in the name of Jesus is to have this same spirit of humility, to realize that we are completely dependent on God for all we do.
In your prayers, be mindful when you use the phrase, “in the name of Jesus.” Ponder deeply what it means. Imbibe the spirit of Jesus’s name, his nature, his character, his love, his mindset. You don’t actually have to use those words when you pray if your heart is already there.
You are Christ’s ambassador. You have been authorized by Christ to go forth in his name to preach and heal. May God bless you on this sacred journey.
James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
1 Corinthians 2:16
16 we have the mind of Christ
Romans 8:17 NKJV
17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
John 5:43 NLT
43 For I have come to you in my Father’s name,
John 16:23, 26, 27 NIV
23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.
27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.
Acts 3:6-8, 12, 16 NKJV
6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.
12 Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness?
16 “Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.”
John 14:13 NLT
13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.
Luke 9:23 NIV
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
John 5:30 NIV
30 By myself I can do nothing;
John 14 :10 NIV
10 The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.