Who do we pray to? And in whose name? I often hear people begin their prayers with “Our Father,” “Dear Lord,” or “Dear Jesus,” and then end with “in thy name.” Whose name do they mean? This practice, by the way, is not limited to members of any particular denomination.
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God (John 16:24, 26, 27).
These are Jesus parting instructions to His apostles and have generally been accepted by Christian believers as guidance in how we should make our petitions known: God himself loves us and is pleased to hear our prayers, yet those prayers should be wrapped with the name of Jesus, whose blood was shed for us and who is our advocate with the Father.
Thirty years ago, elderly deacon Lloyd Wohlgemuth (long since departed to his reward), made the introduction to a worship service in the congregation where we then lived. He asked whether those who ended their prayers with “in thy name” were ashamed to speak the name of Jesus. He said he did not believe that to be the case, yet someone could possibly make that inference if we do not clearly say whose name we mean.
Let me be clear, I do not believe that heaven has some heavy-handed bureaucracy that will reject our prayers if they are not submitted in the officially mandated format. God hears all our prayers, however they are formulated. I do wonder, though, if we are a little fearful of approaching the Father with our petitions, somehow fearing His disapproval. That could lead to a confusion as to whom it is that we are actually addressing our prayers. Perhaps there is some thought that it would be best for Jesus to receive our prayers and then pass them on to the Father.
Yet Jesus constantly reiterated the truth of God’s love. The love of Jesus does not stand as a buffer between us and the stern anger of God, it is a demonstration of how much God loves us.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).