Praying in Jesus’ Name

When a bomb explodes, one question every investigator wants answered is how the suspects did it. In other words, what explosive, detonator, and trigger caused the blast? How did they learn to assemble such a device?

A spiritual bomb exploded during afternoon rush hour near the temple in Jerusalem. No one was killed or maimed. In fact, just the opposite—a lame beggar gained the strength to leap again. Because the man was a feature at that temple gate, the healing caused a mass disturbance. So, the authorities wanted to prevent trouble spreading. The incident investigators applied their best spiritual forensics to discover the power behind the troublesome healing.

Healings were not new to the Jews. The religious rulers understood that miracles happened when someone invoked a higher authority; their question was which one. Until recent years, healing power had been scarce, the secrets guarded and used mostly by their own authorized initiates. Now a new kind of power was at work and it was beyond their control. Hence the key question to Peter and John:

By what power, or in what name, have you done this? (Acts 4:7)

Peter, the spokesman for the defense, was consistent in his explanation. He had said the same thing to the man and to the crowd.1

Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:8-12)

Many Christians believe in God’s healing power. Typically, we operate with the understanding that prayer triggers healing, but Peter never used a special prayer formula. His simple command to walk detonated the healing because it carried the authority of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whose will is wholeness for all. In an instant, Peter and John’s faith in Jesus’ name must have reacted with a trace of faith in the lame man and exploded in healing.2

Peter and John already knew what Paul later expressed. The name of Jesus is the highest authority in the universe; the name above all names, for all time.3 It forms part of several prayer promises in the Bible. Praying in Jesus’ name is certainly not superficial, like using the name “Jesus” as a magic password. Seven naïve disciples tried that and failed in shame.4 Names in Bible times reflected character and reputation much more than they do today. The five hundred names of God in the Bible each express part of who He is or what He does. Praying in Jesus’ name means that we submit all we are to all of Him and that our lives are lining up with His character and will—we haven’t arrived, but we are on the right road.

The disciples hid nothing from their interrogators; the inquiry was brief. It ended with a lame attempt by the authorities to prevent further disturbances. They banned the disciples from using Jesus’ name publicly. But with such a powerful name in their hearts, why on earth would they stop using it? Would you?

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  1. Acts 3:6, 16 []
  2. Acts 3:16 []
  3. Eph. 1:20-21; Phil. 2:9-10 []
  4. Acts 19:13-17 []

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