Victoria Lai, CONTRIBUTING WRITER
“In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
For some, this phrase is meaningless. For others, it’s merely a routine ending to prayer. And still for others, it’s the single most powerful way to plead with God. In this article, I will unpack this phrase through the following question: why do Christians end their prayers with the name of Jesus?
Let’s begin in the Book of Acts with a story about a broken man who is healed. This book provides a historical account of how Christianity began—the first churches, the evangelist movement by Jesus’ disciples and followers, and the last commandment of Jesus, or, as Christians say—the Great Commission:
“Then Jesus came to [his 11 disciples] and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”1
As a result, churches were built, miracles were performed, and the gospel was spread during a time in which Christians were being persecuted. The miracle that I want to share is in Acts chapter 3. The story begins by introducing two of Jesus’ disciples, Peter and John. These men, present for Jesus’ last commandment, had followed Jesus during his three years of ministry and spiritual direction. They regarded Jesus as their teacher and leader.
As Peter and John go to the temple to pray, they cross paths with a lame beggar who is being carried to the front of the temple’s gate to beg for money. The only thing readers know about this beggar is that he has been lame ever since birth. The ramifications of this detail are subtle but important. He is well known by others for his disability. He is recognized for his brokenness, his inability to walk, his lack of status in society, and his constant state of depression. He is a nobody in this society––forgotten at best, and abused at worst. Everyday, he is reminded of his situation. This is the broken man who is found begging at the gates of the temple.
As Peter and John are about to enter the temple, the beggar asks them for money. Peter calls for the beggar’s attention and says: “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”2 Peter takes him by the hand to help him to his feet, and the man walks. My personal favorite verse comes after this moment: “He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with [Peter and John] into the temple courts, walking and jumping and praising God.”3 The once lame and broken man who knew only his disability and weakness, who only went so far as to sit outside of the temple by the gate, is now not only healed, but also ushered into the very place that he was told he was too broken to enter. The broken man finds himself in the presence of the God who heals. His response of praising God shows how he understands the power that healed him was not the power of a man, but of something greater.
I understand the beggar to be a reflection of us. He is a reflection of me even though I do not share the same brokenness as the beggar––I am still like him. Broken. I struggle with social inadequacy and the fear of failing expectations. I place myself at the mercies of other people’s judgment and opinions and I often become the person someone else wants me to be. Brokenness is a reality not only in our society, but also in the world that we live in. Suffering is a guarantee and some live lives accepting this reality as all there is. Maybe it is depression and the intense darkness and emptiness that leave you emotionally and mentally shattered. Maybe it is anxiety and the crippling worry of being at the mercies of everything and everyone around you. Perhaps it is addiction, substituting that all-too-idealistic satisfaction and joy for a temporary one. Perhaps it is your most loved ones who are sick, with cancer or leukemia, those who suffer from mental illness, or those have been hurt by society.
Like the beggar, some might find themselves at the gate of the temple, thinking that no god will ever care for or love such a broken person. More will be skeptical of any healing or of a God powerful enough to intervene, and moreover, others will reject the hand that is offered. For the lame beggar, he was healed in the name of Jesus Christ, for there is power in the name of Jesus. It was the lame man’s faith in Jesus, who He was and what He has done, that ushered in the beginnings of healing. While we were broken people, lost and without hope to save ourselves, God sent his one and only Son to the world to be the healer that we did not deserve. In our rejection of Him, He was crucified but three days later, resurrected, and the reality that we once knew—the suffering and the pain, the death and the worries—is overcome by the reality of hope and healing, of life and peace.
The power of Jesus is not only one that saves but one that conquers death and suffering. It is a power that brings hope to places of darkness. It is a power that heals the great divide between God and his children and that same power is the power that heals the broken and makes it something beautiful. This is why Christians pray in the name of Jesus, because there is power in the name of Jesus. In times of suffering, Jesus is the source of comfort. In times of darkness, Jesus is the source of light. In times of shame and brokenness, Jesus is the source of healing. When God feels so far away, the name of Jesus is a reminder of the cross and the bridging of the greatest divide. It is in the name of Jesus that one can stand unashamed and whole again.
Like the beggar, there will be days beyond the pain and suffering of our everyday lives. The hurt and the pain are real and such are the consequences of a broken world. But friends, there is hope for all who hurt and are lost in the midst of darkness. Admittedly, our lives and our healing process might not be as immediate and miraculous as the beggar’s, but through all things, it is the same Savior and Healer at work. It is the same Jesus and the same power that is ever present and moving in our everyday brokenness. When nothing in this world is constant and when there seems to be nothing to hold on to, perhaps, the answer comes in our desperate desire to hold on to anything we can. This desire to find comfort and confidence that we all know too well when life is difficult points to a deep yearning for that desire to be satisfied. Not all things will satisfy forever, but perhaps there is an answer to what seems for some a never-ending search for something greater. Like the story of the beggar, Christians do not pray merely to be free of their current suffering, but in the hope that one day, they too can enter into the temple, praising and worshipping their God.
To the friends who are in their darkest times and have found the need to pray—even if you might not call it that—and do not know where to go or who to talk to, I want you to know that the unknown god has a name. And in that name, there is hope and healing for all who believe.
1Matthew 28:18-20, NIV
2Acts 3:6, NIV
3Acts 3:8, NIV
Hello! My name is Victoria but many people call me Charlie (after Charlie the unicorn). I am a third year double major in Philosophy and Rhetoric. I love music and food; not necessarily together or in that order.