What’s in a Name?

Scripture

John 14-16, specifically verses 14:13-14, 15:16, 16:23-24, 16:26

Study

Four times in Jesus’ final discourse recorded in John 14-16 does he tell his disciples that he will give them whatever they ask in his name.  (14:13-14, 15:16, 16:23-24, 16:26) There is obviously power in Jesus’ name.

A name is a symbol of power.  Upon hearing a name, you immediately associate that person with the name.  When you hear “President George W Bush” spoken, you immediately associate a person with the name as well as the power associated with the man even though you’ve never met him.

Praying in Christ’s name automatically associates the same power when we speak his name.

A Matter of Trust 

In telling his disciples to use his name in prayer, Jesus is telling them that he trusts them.  Consider a joint checking account – it is not a perfect analogy but it works for our purposes.  Two names are on the account and both people have access to it.  There is a lot of trust placed on the other person that they will handle the account properly.  If there wasn’t the trust, the account would never be opened.

When Jesus tells his disciples to pray in his name, he knows that they will not betray the trust that he has placed in them.

What do you think about the trust Jesus has placed in you by telling you to ask anything in his name?

Name and Nature 

There is a lot of responsibility that goes along with using someone’s name.  It may bring a lot of benefits but we also must be true to the character of the person’s name.  Consider Franklin Graham.  We know him as Billy Graham’s son.  Franklin Graham may do a lot of great things in his life, but he will always be Billy Graham’s son and that will open doors for him that other preachers and evangelists would not see opened.  But if Franklin Graham did something that was out of character with the Graham name he would quickly lose the privilege that was carried with that name.

When we use the name of Jesus, we carry a lot of responsibility on our shoulders.  We are expected to ask for things that are in Jesus’ nature; things that are selfless and loving.  To ask for things that are out of character with the name would be an abuse of the power surrounding that name.

Relationship to the Name 

The authority of a name is one of the most important things a person can give to another.  When a man and woman get married, the man gives his bride his name.  It is because of the trust he has placed in her that his name will not be sullied by something she does.  The same goes for children.  When a name is given, it is an act of adoption and acceptance into a family.  While Joseph was not Jesus’ earthly father, he legally adopted him by naming him.  The taking or giving of a name shows a relationship of trust between two people.

Once again, it all comes back to a matter of relationship.  If we expect to call on Jesus’ name, we better be in a proper relationship with him.  This doesn’t just mean paying lip service.  Andrew Murray writes, “God looks not to our lips to see what the name is to us, but to our hearts.”  Paul writes in Colossians 3:17, “We will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.”  If we are going to pray in Christ’s name, we better make sure our walk reflects the trust that he his placed on us.

Do our lives reflect the trust Christ has placed on us?

Do our prayers reflect this trust as well?

Adapted from With Christ in the School of Prayer

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