Sunday, September 7, 2014

Public Prayer

A reader who generally appreciated my post on praying in the name of Jesus suggested that public prayer is different. I agree. In order for a Christian to be faithful to His Lord when he prays in public, it is necessary for him to audibly name the name of Jesus.

Most prayer, however, is not public. By far the greater portion of the prayers a true Christian prays are made in secret with no other hearer than God himself. In these private prayers, whether prayed in lengthy chunks during a time set apart for prayer or uttered quickly throughout the day, the name of Jesus will undoubtedly come up, but the one praying need not feel a compunction to end the prayer with any certain phrase.

Prayer with intimate friends will be the next most common type. Where there is a bond of fellowship around the Lord Jesus, His name will certainly come up, but there should be no need for a rule about placing it at the end of a prayer.

The one time when there may be a temptation to leave out the name of our Lord Jesus, when we are praying in public, is the one time when there is a call to be especially careful to verbally make it clear that the prayer is prayed in His name. This may be done throughout the prayer, but it is wisely added at the end as well, that at the close no scoffer or unbeliever can doubt that this was a Christian's prayer to the Christian's God. It is comparatively rare for a Christian to pray thus in public. Not many of us have frequent opportunities to pray at political assemblies, business conferences, family reunions, and the like, where the ungodly may be present. Nonetheless, when we do have that opportunity, let us make it very plain whose we are and in whose name we pray.

Preachers who cross circles and preach in unfamiliar places and who want to distinguish themselves from the man-pleasing, ear-tickling sort of preacher may find it useful to adopt the custom of adding a phrase to their prayers that intentionally includes the name of Jesus. Those who do may also want to make it clear that they are referring to
the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible
There are many "Jesus"es these days and many "lord"s. Saying "in Jesus' name" may distinguish a person from the liberal modernist of 100 years ago who spoke of "the Christ" as an idea, but who knew nothing of Him as a person. It may also distinguish them from the modern ecumenical who speaks of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, but who ignores the issues of sin and the cross and avoids the name of Jesus. But it will not distinguish you from the worldling who grew up saying, "What would Jesus do?" without the vaguest notion from the Bible of what He would do. Many people speak of "Jesus" without thinking of the fact that He is the Son of God, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords, and that He has a double claim on our lives: one for having created us, and a second for having redeemed us by His blood. Let our language reflect not only that we believe in Jesus, but that we know
who He is