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Question:

If a person is sincere in their prayer, and it is a prayer that is to advance the will of God and not some worldly gain for themselves, and they don't ask it  or pray in the name of Jesus, is that prayer ignored? Secondly, working at home, I am alone an awful lot of the time. And I often find myself talking to God as though I am talking to someone that is physically there. Most of the time, I'm not asking for something per say. I'm just talking to him. Maybe I am asking for direction, or answers. So I guess I may be asking for something. I have to admit that these are the times I feel closest to him. I guess what I am wondering is that when I do this, I don't necessarily speak the words that are so often heard at the end of public prayers. I don't speak the words " I come to You in the name of Jesus", or something along that line. Are all these conversations going unheard? Any thoughts that you may have on this would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:

If I understand your question (s) right, you are really asking if you can pray in Jesus name without actually saying those words someplace in your prayer.  Here is my thinking: 

There are many prayers in the new testament and I can't think of one that has those words directly said in the prayer.  I realize that the "Lord's prayer" is a pattern prayer and not a rote prayer, but while it mentions reverence for the name of God, the prayer is not in Jesus name.  Better examples would be prayers in the epistles like Eph 1:17-23. or Eph 3:14-21.  In the latter prayer the name of Christ is mentioned several times but the prayer does not have the formal words "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."

I believe prayer is a conversation with God.  Sometimes it involves asking for something and sometimes it involves praise and sometimes it involves communion.  Praying "in the name of Jesus"  is praying in his authority.  That is, we should be praying to the Father in His name (or because of the authority He has given us to do this).  When we do what the Lord asks us to do, the way he asks us to do it, we are praying in His name whether we say the words formally or not. 

This same issue comes up with baptism.  Some want to baptize saying the words, "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."  I usually do this.  Some want to baptize "in the name of the Lord" or "in the name of Jesus" because that seems to be the wording of the Acts of the Apostles.  I think this is fiddle dee dee, fiddle dee dum.  When we baptize in the name of Jesus, we are baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  When we baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are baptizing in the name of Jesus.  They are One (or unified) remember?  If we do what the Lord asks us to do, the way He asks us to do it and make it clear that we are baptizing on confession of faith in the Lord Jesus to identify the new convert with the Lord Jesus and to profess that He now has a new life in Christ Jesus, I don't think we actually have to say any particular words to be doing this "in the name of the Lord Jesus". 

I sometimes wonder why people think that God doesn't hear us make a list at our prayer meetings but he does hear us when we repeat the list in a formal prayer.  I sometimes wonder why there is more power in having everyone have the opportunity to pray through that list in small groups, than to have one person just ask God to remember our requests on the list and then have the rest of us say "amen" to the prayer.  One prayer with a unified mind seems more in keeping with what I understand prayer to be than the confusion of all kinds of people around a room praying the same prayer.  But then I admit I don't think like other people do! 

When it comes to personal prayer, there is no formula.  If God is our friend (and He says He is) we should talk to Him like we would a friend.  That doesn't mean that we can be irreverent but it does mean that we can be informal.  Keep talking to God just like you do and be sure that He hears.  I am sure that He loves hearing you talk to Him.  It likely makes Him believe you think He is real.

Christian love,
Bruce

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