I was taught to close each and every prayer ever said, with the words, “in the name of Jesus”. Perhaps I thought of it like a special incantation that made the magic work. Or maybe it was more like dropping names with the “Big Guy” to get some VIP treatment. Or maybe Jesus was supposed to be more like a closing pitcher in a baseball game, the ace in the hole that is meant to pull out the win. Whatever the case, that’s what I said… “in the name of Jesus”. As a little girl and even now, I was not really sure what those words did for the prayer, but I wasn’t going to risk it. It was a good policy, come to find out, as Jesus himself had said, “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14). So I guess that is why the practice took hold in our tradition of Christian prayer.
And maybe for some other reasons. The disciples discovered there was power in Jesus’ name. What began timidly became bold, audacious proclamations in the name of a man who had been unjustly and cruelly killed, risen from the dead, appeared to them very much alive, and who had affirmed and fulfilled everything they knew about the God of Love and Mercy and Power and Greatness they had dared to believe in. They were bold because they discovered it worked. Not just the mention of Jesus’s name – which means God Saves – but the power living in them. Things happened when they prayed and acted in Jesus’ name. The Kingdom was active and alive in them, through a living power that Jesus said would come upon them. And the same is true for us.
God Saves. It is a proclamation. What if we prayed everything like that. “Lord… here is my prayer… my needs and my desires… and I turn it all over to you because I know only You Save. You Desire to Save… You Will Save, regardless of my own understanding. I trust You to Save, Lord.” We are proclaiming our faith in him. What if we prayed like that? Maybe what we are doing is not just saying a name but an action. Maybe we are calling on the power of the Spirit to act, when we pray in Jesus’ name. So, it is not the word itself, it is our invitation to release him into our lives. It is our “Yes” to God. And He always answers “Yes” back.
And what if we have come to a place in our circumstance when we have spent all our words. And we have nothing more to say in our prayers. I think if we could still just exhale that one word – Jesus, it would accomplish everything we could possibly ask or imagine. Jesus. God Saves. Maybe that is all we need to say. Maybe that is all our prayer has to be sometimes. Jesus.
Today the church liturgy celebrates the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ and begins with a teenage mother who can hardly comprehend the implications of her simple act of obedience. So on the eighth day, the day of his circumcision, she did not name him “Wonderful Counselor”, or “Prince of Peace”, or “Mighty God”… but Jesus. Those names will be needed later, but not to start. The only thing needed to go forward is understanding that God Saves.
So we begin our new year, not with great acclamations of what will be, or what the future holds, but who Jesus is and what he does in our lives today. May our new year begin with a “Yes” to God, and an invitation for his Power to work in our lives.
In the Name of Jesus….
“It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing.” Acts 3:16
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
“The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” – 1 Corinthians 4:20
“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” – Luke 1:35
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:20
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21