Praying in the Name of Christ
Praying in the name of Christ is not a bare faithless mentioning of His name in our prayers or finishing our prayers with it (Matt. 7:21). The saints use the words, “through Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 15:57), but often is that scabbard (sheath) produced while the sword of the Spirit is not in it. The words are said, but the faith is not exercised.
Praying at His command
To pray in the name of Christ is to pray, first, at His command – to go to God by His order:
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive.John 16:24
Christ as God commands all men to pray, to offer that piece of natural duty to God; but that is not the command meant. But Christ as Mediator sends His own to His Father to ask supply of their wants, and allows them to tell that He sent them, as one recommends a poor person to a friend. So to pray in the name of Christ is to go to God as sent by the poor man’s friend. It implies:
- The soul’s having come to Christ in the first place: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). He that would pray aright must do as those who made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend first, and then made their plea to their king (Acts 12:20).
- The soul’s taking its encouragement to pray from Jesus Christ: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).
The way to the throne in heaven is blocked up by our sins; sinners have no confidence to seek the Lord. Jesus Christ came down from heaven, died for the criminals, and gathers them to Himself by effectual calling. He, as having all interest with His Father, bids them go to His Father in His name and ask what they need, assuring them of acceptance. And from thence they take their encouragement, viz., from His promises in the Word. And He gives them His token with them, which the Father will own, and that is His own Spirit:
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Praying to God through Christ
Secondly, it is to direct our prayers to God through Jesus Christ: “Wherefore he is also able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Heb. 13:15). Praying in Christ’s name is depending wholly on Christ’s merit and intercession for access, acceptance, and a gracious return:
Depending on Christ for access to God: “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him” (Eph. 3:12). There is no access to God but through Him (John 14:6). They who attempt to come to God otherwise will get the door thrown in their face. But we must take hold of the Mediator, and come in at His side, who is the Secretary of heaven.
Depending on Him for acceptance of our prayers: “...he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:6). Our Lord Christ is the only altar that can sanctify our gift. If one lay the stress of the acceptance of his prayers on his attitude, feelings, tenderness, and so on, the prayer will not be accepted. A crucified Christ only can bear the weight of the acceptance of either our persons or performances.
Depending on Him for a gracious answer: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” (1 John 5:14). No prayers are heard and answered but for the Mediator’s sake; and whatever petitions agreeable to God’s will are put up to God, in this dependence, are heard.
Why must we pray in the Name of Christ?
The reason of this may be taken up in these two things:
- There is no access for a sinful creature to God without a Mediator. “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:2). “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Sin has set us at a distance from God and has bolted the door of our access to Him; it is beyond our power, or that of any creature, to open it for us. His justice rejects the criminal, His holiness the unclean creature, unless there be an acceptable person to go between Him and us. Our God is a consuming fire: there is no immediate access for a sinner to Him.
- And there is none appointed nor fit for that work but Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). It is He alone who is our great High Priest. None but He has satisfied justice for our sins. And as He is the only Mediator of redemption, so He is the only Mediator of intercession: “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). The sweet savor of His merit alone is capable to procure acceptance to our prayers, in themselves unworthy (Rev. 8:3-4).