... in Jesus' Name
Now, for person A to do something in the name of person B is for A to act as though he were B. If I sign a paper in my wife’s name, I do so as though I were she, and she is bound by that agreement, and usually mortgage companies don’t allow that for that very reason. As another example, a power of attorney (so called, in the U.S.) legally sets aside all such distinctions, and therefore any act under the power of attorney is the legally valid equivalent of the same act carried out by the person that granted the power of attorney. And thus one who possesses the power of attorney acts “in the name of” the one who granted it.
In our time, (at least, in America, where I live) we have little experience of absolute monarchy, and consequently we seldom encounter people who are acting “in the name of the king.” Such a person, though, would be acting for the king in carrying out the will of the king, as though the king himself were present and acting. (In America, we have, “Stop in the name of the law!” I guess that is pretty close.)
So, when we pray in Jesus’ Name, we are praying as though we were Jesus, acting for Jesus, that is, praying for what Jesus would pray for. But how is this possible? Why is it permitted? Imagine what granting such power must mean.
Jesus was not and is not fooled by us and our shenanigans. Jesus knew that people would pray for all sorts of silly, frivolous, unnecessary, selfish, contradictory, and wicked things in His Name. So, why did He grant the use of it to His church and people?
Well, in order for us to pray as though we are Jesus requires us to pray with a mind and will that is conformed to the mind of God in the way that Jesus’ mind was. Only the Spirit can help us with this. (Rom. 8:26) This is grace—the grace of the Lord Jesus towards us. The Holy Spirit grants us conformity to the mind of Jesus (Phil. 2:5) so that when we pray “in Jesus’ Name” we can ask for those things for which Jesus would ask, in conformity to the Father’s will. We seldom do this, lacking in faith as we are, but it is what the Lord wants of us, and it is what He, in His grace, invites us to do.