Pastor's Corner

Praying in Jesus’ name

by Daniel Ausbun

This week the U.S. Supreme Court took up the case (Town of Greece, N.Y. vs. Galloway) on whether prayer is allowed before government meetings.

Linda Stephens and Susan Galloway sued to stop officials in Greece, N.Y., near Rochester, from inviting an unpaid “chaplain of the month” to give an opening prayer at town council meetings. The chaplain was almost always Christian, and the prayers often featured direct references to Jesus Christ.

Two-thirds of the prayers made reference to, “Jesus Christ” or “Holy Spirit.” For 11 years the town council of Greece opened their meetings with prayer. The two ladies, one Jewish and the other an atheist, filed a lawsuit against the town that the prayers only represented Christianity.

The federal appeals court in New York ruled that the town violated the Constitution by opening nearly every meeting over an 11-year span with prayers that stressed Christianity.

By hearing this case, the U.S. Supreme Court is wrestling with the appropriate role of religion in government. The Supreme Court asks God for help before every public session. When our Congress meets, they begin with prayer. This lawsuit will address prayers before meetings on all government levels. The possible implications for this case could change all government meetings.

The high court settled this issue 30 years ago when it ruled that an opening prayer is part of the nation's fabric and not a violation of the First Amendment.

The current case arrived at the Supreme Court when the federal appeals court in New York expressed concern about the prayers being prayed at the town council meeting being Christian prayers. If a federal court is concerned about the content of a prayer, then we must ask, “What constitutes a Christian prayer?” If you’re a Christian, you’ll want to make sure your prayers are being heard by God. Here are four ways to honor God by praying in Jesus’ name:

First, there’s power in Jesus’ name (Acts 3:6). Peter told a lame man to get up and walk and he did. The man was hoping for money and he received a healing. The name of Jesus is most powerful in our prayer life.

Second, Jesus will do what’s asked in His name (John 14:14). Last week at our church we held a revival with Bailey Smith. Brother Bailey shared a story how he was preaching in one church and the ushers walked down the aisle to pray and then pass the offering plates. One usher began to pray and prayed a prayer blessing the food. There was no food planned or prepared. What’s even worse is that no one noticed. The usher’s prayer life had become so routine — he forgot he was talking with the King of kings. Christ is listening for those who are serious about prayer to Him.

Third, prayer in Jesus’s name aligns us with God’s will (I John 5:14). If your prayer life is focused on Jesus and His greatness, saying “in Jesus’ name” at the end of a prayer is not a magic formula. If what we ask for or say in prayer is not for God’s glory and according to His will, saying “in Jesus’ name” is meaningless.

Genuinely praying in Jesus' name and for His glory is what is important, not attaching certain words to the end of a prayer. It is not the words in the prayer that matter, but the purpose behind the prayer.

Fourth, we have confident access to God through Christ (Ephesians 3:12). Ninety-four percent of Americans believe they’re going to heaven. Matthew 7:22 says many people will be rejected at judgment. They’re deceived, thinking they’re going to heaven, when they’re headed for hell. Only those who come to God through faith and repentance in Christ Jesus will be saved.

Don’t let the Devil sow seeds of doubt and embarrassment for publically following Christ. If you’re in a public setting and someone asks you to pray aloud — proudly pray using Jesus’ name.

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