We often conclude our prayers with the words, "in Jesus' name". Why do we do this?
First, when teaching about prayer the Lord said: "You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it" (John 14:14) and "I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." (John 16:23) These and other scriptures give us our authority to pray in Jesus' name. However, a word of caution is in order here. We must not use the expression "in Jesus' name" as a religious mantra or as a kind of lucky charm that we attach to the end of our prayers in order to get the desired results. When we address a letter we put the post or zip code along with the address to ensure its safe arrival. "In Jesus' name" is not a religious postcode.
Jesus directed a strong rebuke to those who engaged in prayer with meaningless repetition. "And when you pray," Jesus said, "do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." (Matthew 6:7) I believe Jesus would give the same rebuke to those who recite the words "in Jesus' name" thinking it to be a required formula that brings results.
When we pray "in Jesus' name", we affirm that it is only through his atoning death that we have access into the presence of God the Father. There is nothing in ourselves that we can recommend to God; it is Jesus who makes our audience with the Father a reality. This is how the Hebrew epistle states this truth: "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter into the Most Holy Place [where the Father resides] by the blood of Jesus …let us draw near to God." (Hebrews 10:19-22) Through Jesus we enter into the holy presence of Almighty God, acknowledging that this honour, this privilege, is made possible through the Lamb of God, who has taken away our sin. Jesus is the one mediator between God and man and our great high priest, who continually lives to make intercession for us. Thus when we pray "in Jesus' name" we are acknowledging that it is only through Jesus – who he is and what he has done – that we can approach God our Father.