Scripture often speaks of believers as children and of God as Father. This description is comforting to believers because it teaches us what we are often like and how God responds to us. Children make lots of mistakes that their father will help them overcome. Children also rebel openly, but that doesn’t make their father stop loving them. Adoption is truly a great gift.
I’d like to address a mistake that many Christians make while praying, but I want to begin and end with a reminder that we have a loving Father who bears with us even in our mistakes. Most people do not have a good theology of prayer, but that doesn’t mean that God isn’t listening—just like a child who can’t quite say “daddy” isn’t ignored on the grounds that he talks funny.
Most people have grown accustomed to starting prayers by calling on God as Father. This is good and it is how Christ instructed us to pray in Matthew 6. After that, we’ll fill in whatever thanksgiving or petitions we might have on our heart, then close the whole thing off with, “in Your Name, amen.” But what does that last bit even mean?
First of all, few people realize that saying amen isn’t the same thing as saying, “over and out” on the radio. When used at the end of a prayer, the word amen means, “let it be.” It’s a way of referring to everything you just said, saying that you agree with all of it, and asking God to hear your prayer.
This is why many people end their prayer, “in Jesus’ Name, amen.” They’re asking that their prayer be heard in Christ’s Name. This is because we have no right to stand before the Father apart from Jesus Christ and His work of atonement. It’s a way of saying, “let these prayers stand before you because of Jesus and what He’s done.” It’s not necessary, but it’s a helpful reminder that can keep us from pride.
This brings us back to the practice of saying, “in Your Name, Amen.” If you started your prayer “Father,” and are now ending it, “in Your Name,” that simply doesn’t make sense. You’re asking the Father to hear you on the basis of the fact that you’re talking to Him. We don’t do that in everyday language, “Bob, could you get milk and eggs on the way home and please do all of it because I’m talking to you, Bob.”
There are a variety of reasons why Christians end their prayers this way. It might just be what we’ve heard other people say, or it might be that we forgot which Person of the Trinity we were talking to when we started (which is kind of awkward if you think about it). Regardless of the reason, it shows that we’re not really thinking about our words as we say them. This sounds an awful lot like the vain repetition that Christ warns us against in Matthew 6:7.
Thankfully, God is gracious and Scripture describes us as children. God forgives us for our carelessness in prayer for the same reason that He hears our prayers to begin with: the person and work of Jesus. But this is an area where we can grow up. Next time you finish your prayer, think about the fact that God is willing to hear you because of Jesus, then try praying “in Jesus Name, Amen.”