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Your great name

One of my recent posts referenced names of God following the “Jehovah-” line. This theme of “names” keeps coming up for me, which typically means God is wanting me to look at something deeper.  First it was the sermon that got me started. Then, a song by Natalie Grant, that I absolutely LOVE titled, “Your Great Name” (click to see/hear a version w/lyrics). Today, I’m back on the name theme, but for slightly different reasons.

I was supposed to teach Sunday school for our class this week and the text was from John 14 and 15.I really hate that Rob and Em are sick and I can’t actually teach! In these passages, we find John 14:12-14 “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.

I sure have been doing a lot of praying lately. Apparently growing up, becoming a parent, having friends who are getting married and becoming parents, plus having a career and husband can be cause to pray, imagine that!  Being from the South, a lot of people claim to be Christians. They are serious about their faith and, typically, their denomination. Denominations (I believe) are one of the biggest obstacles to reaching people with the message of Christ. (But that’s another story for another day.)  However, no matter what denomination, there seem to be some people in every single one who believe you have to pray “in Jesus’ name”.  When I first heard this, as an adult who had been a Christian for years, I thought, “For real? I’m praying, to God, therefore am I not praying to Jesus?”  But, these people were very serious about it. They said that “it couldn’t hurt” and some said, “If you don’t pray in His name it won’t be heard as well by God.”  No joke. These are real statements from real people. Of course, no one could tell me where they got the scriptural basis. I had to go hunting.

The best I can tell, the scriptures above from John 14 are where this comes from. So, when I came across these scriptures again studying for the lesson, I decided to read the study notes in my NIV study Bible.  I found this note interesting (on v. 13): “Not simply prayer that mentions Jesus’ name but prayer in accordance with all that the person who bears the name is. It is prayer aimed at carrying forward the work Jesus did–prayer that He himself will answer.”

Following this line of thought, I don’t think we should end every prayer with “In Jesus’ name, Amen” or start every prayer with “Dear Lord Jesus”.  Even following the Lord’s prayer (see Matthew 6), there is no mention of having to direct every prayer to Jesus specifically and the Lord’s Prayer is the example Jesus gave us on how to pray! But, following this line of thought, I can see where there are many times where praying in Jesus’ name could be powerful—when praying for the lost, marriages on the rocks, health and healing, deliverance.  But, I don’t think I would pray in Jesus’ name to have an efficient day at work or for job opportunities, or for an item to still be on sale, etc. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t even pray for the latter things.

Oh, and along these lines, one of the study questions on the side of the leader’s book for this day’s lesson said, “Have you ever prayed to the Holy Spirit?” …. interesting… Have I? Would I? What circumstances might prompt such a prayer?… Thoughts for another day!!!

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts about anything above. I, like you, am a work in progress and love to hear new perspectives!

Natalie Grant (Your Great Name):

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