What’s In a Name?

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“Well my daddy left home when I was three and he didn’t leave much to Ma and me. Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze. Now, I don’t blame him ’cause he run and hid but the meanest thing that he ever did was before he left, he went and named me ‘Sue.’   Well, he must o’ thought that is quite a joke and it got a lot of laughs from a’ lots of folk. It seems I had to fight my whole life through. Some gal would giggle and I’d get red. And some guy’d laugh and I’d bust his head. I tell ya, life ain’t easy for a boy named ‘Sue.’”

These lyrics from Johnny Cash’s song “A Boy Named Sue” point to the importance of a name. Obviously a boy would prefer not to be named Sue.

Bingham Hunter dedicates his last chapter to the phrase that I often use when I pray in public. I often say “In Jesus name I pray” as I get ready to close my prayer.

Is it important to invoke the name of Jesus when we pray?

Some seem to think so. Hunter was told when he was a young Christian that the phrase “In Jesus name” was essential for God to hear our prayers.   Leave off the phrase and your prayers would not get through.   He encountered folks who prayed “In Jesus name” with drawn out words and emotional intonation.   Others seem to think that invoking Jesus name has direct power of its own.   You don’t even have to attach it to prayer.   And Hunter relates that he encountered a zealot who explained that praying “in Jesus name” would force The Father to give whatever he asked.

Where do people get this idea?

John 14-16.

Peppered throughout these three chapters are these statements. “ In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, He will give it to you.” “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” “In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf.”

Some may see this as merely the idea that Jesus is our advocate. If we pray to Him, He will be our intermediary with God, The Father.   But the second verse seems to indicate that praying directly to Jesus is the way to go.

Whatever the Bible is saying about praying with Jesus as advocate or Jesus as recipient, one thing is clear. The phrase “In Jesus name” is not just an afterthought we tack on to the end of a prayer.   It truly means something.

Hunter says the phrase “somehow conditions prayer offered to both The Father and the Lord Jesus.   It also apparently applies in some way to the answer as well.”

In upcoming concluding posts, we will explore other evidence in John that will help us understand the meaning of the phrase.

When Johnny Cash sang about being called “Sue,” he bemoaned the complexity of his life caused by the gender-bending name.

When we pray using the name of Jesus, there may be a different result, a good result…

Maybe communication with our Lord and Savior will be facilitated.

Who would not want that?

I don’t know about you, but I want it.

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