During a recent password audit, it was found that a woman was using the following password:
When asked why she had such a long password, the woman said she was told, “Make your password at least eight characters long and include at least one capital.” LOL!
There are strong passwords and weak ones. The first 12 worst passwords of 2012 were, in descending order: password, 123456, 12345678, abc123, qwerty, monkey, letmein, dragon111111, baseball, iloveyou, and trustno1. “Jesus” made the list at number 21.
I don’t know about you, but one of my pet peeves is the need to make new passwords all the time – all of which I forget. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to reset mine. It’s password mania! We all devise “foolproof” systems to remember our passwords, don’t we? It’s the only way we can access our documents and other things we feel are important.
God has a “password” for access too. But that password might not be what you expect.
Most Christians believe the password is to say, “in Jesus’ name.” They quote Jesus in John 16:23-24: “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
Paul echoed his words in Colossians 3:17 – but it wasn’t about prayer; it was about life choices: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
So it seems, on the surface, that “in Jesus’ name” is a password for prayer and pleasing God.
There is considerable disagreement, however, about whether those exact words must be said at the end of a prayer. Some people say, “through Christ our Lord.” Still others say neither, believing Jesus wasn’t teaching us to say specific words, but rather to understand how we access the Father – through what Jesus accomplished for us.
But read the Savior’s exemplary prayers in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 and you’ll see Jesus didn’t end with “in Jesus’ name” or anything similar. [It might be strange for Him to do so, in fact.] But study prayers throughout the New Testament and you won’t see that phrase tacked on. We are told to pray in Jesus’ name, but that doesn’t mean we have to use those words.
“In Jesus’ name” is more about identifying with Christ and acting under His authority in our ministry as His servants or representatives (ambassadors). Consider Matthew 18:5, 19-20 and you’ll see the the concept – welcoming children and gathering together “in my [Jesus’] name.”
The point is, we can only come to God’s throne of grace and serve Him because of Jesus – what He has done for us on the cross, in His resurrection and in His intercession for us. Jesus is our Redeemer and Advocate, the Way to God.
So HE is the “password,” so to speak. Jesus Himself, not a phrase we tack on to our prayers. Saying “in Jesus name” can help us remember how we come to the Father and that we need to seek His sovereign will; not a matter of form, but rather faith and surrender.
Christians need to think this through. Gregory Koukl – founder of the apologetics organization Stand to Reason – writes, “Just about every time we finish praying we tack this phrase on at the end – ‘In the name of Jesus. Amen.’ … We expect that in doing so it seals the power of prayer. I think that is superstitious, because praying in the name of Jesus doesn’t mean saying, ‘In the name of Jesus’ ….
“The name of someone, in the sense that the Bible authors used it, was what the person stood for, the substance of their character, or their authority…. testifying to the name, or nature, or power, or substance of God. When we pray in the name of Jesus or baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, what we are doing is acting in their authority, in their stead, according to their command, and consistent with their desires.
“When we pray in the name of Jesus it might be better for us to drop the phrase ‘In the name of Jesus’ altogether because generally we don’t mean, ‘I am praying in the authority of Jesus Christ.‘ You know what we probably mean when we say ‘In the name of Jesus. Amen’? Practically speaking, it means the prayer is over. That is the Christian exit. Amen…..”
And “in Jesus’ name” is not a mystical formula that guarantees God will hear, either. Many people have prayed those words without knowing the Savior.
God looks at our hearts, and He knows if we are His. He knows whether our prayers are rooted in Jesus our Substitute or if we are coming under our own steam. He knows whether we are truly honoring God.
“The important thing is not what you say with your mouth,” Koukl says. “Dispense with the empty words. Get rid of them. Instead, approach the throne of God based on the authority of Jesus Christ. If you are thinking that way and that is your attitude, it doesn’t matter what you say at the end of the prayer. God will hear you according to His promise.”
Aren’t you glad we don’t have to remember any passwords to come to the Father?