Friday, December 12, 2014

"...and in Jesus' name we pray..."

Kubota was home yesterday.  I got to listen to many movies being played on the DVD.

In one scene the Hollywood preacher finished his prayer, "...and in Jesus' name we pray..."

I want to play with three possible interpretations of that phrase.

Least sophisticated interpretation

Dude!  This is a prayer.  Shut-up.  Stop eating.  Pay attention.

A second interpretation

OK, God, listen-up.  The Bible says you gotta give this to me because Jesus promised:
And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.  - John 14:13,14  NAB Translation
Where I, personally, cough up a hairball with this interpretation is that it reduces Christianity to magic.  I can ask for anything and then God MUST deliver because I uttered the proper magical incantation at the end of the request.

Aside:  I believe in magic.  God's laws of physics, chemistry and interpersonal relationships give us magic all of the time.  I see magic in integrated circuits, photosynthesis, my loving family, my dogs, smokeless powder and so on. 

A third interpretation

Jesus was not using the phrase "my name" in the same way that Americans use it in 2014.

He was using "my name" as a declaration of membership in a family with all of the responsibilities and privileges incumbent upon that membership.

One of the responsibilities of family is to know "rightful place".  The child does not take the Patriarch's place at the table nor does the child short-stop the choicest bowls of food.

So requesting something "in Jesus's" name is an oath of loyalty.  An oath of membership in the family who follows Christ's teachings.

And if God is anything like my earthly father, then a request for "more strawberry shortcake" is likely to be met with the insight, "There would be more strawberry shortcake if you had picked more strawberries."


  1. I like your 3rd interpretation. We were meant to be "familial", to gather as a common group to love and support each other. I respect prayer, I believe it's always heard - I just think that most of the time we aren't open to the answer, and I think many folks throw in the "in Jesus's Name" as a bit of a "kicker".

    I have a fondness for asking . . . "What if He's at a Cubs game?" A puzzled look typically follows. My meaning is that He has given us the gift of reason, the gift of knowledge, the gifts of love and friendship, the gift of understanding . . . in other words I think many times He simply says "You got this!" because He fully knows we can handle it and will grow and learn from "it".

    And, for those times where "it" is some soul crushing event, He does what any loving parent does, wraps us in His arms and holds and loves us.

    He never offered a pain free life, never promised to remove fear or suffering . . . merely promised to love and forgive us. His love, His sacrifice, His forgiveness, the love of family, the forgiveness of family, the bond of family . . . that is a true miracle in our lives.

    I guess I'm saying we will always receive what we need . . . what we want is another matter . . . regardless how we ask.

    Enjoyed this post very much!

    1. Thank-you or the kind words.

      Honesty compels me to add that the third interpretation was inspired by a Scott Hahn CD on The Our Father. Hahn played that riff on "hallowed by thy name",

      I just borrowed the tune for a while. I am not smart. I just have a good memory.


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