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A few times in the book of John, Jesus instructs us to pray "in His Name". What does this mean? How do we know if we are praying in His name? How would we not be praying in His name?

I don't believe this is using "In Jesus' Name, Amen" as the closing line of our prayers.

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. John 14:13-14 ESV

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. John 15:16 ESV

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. "I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. John 16:23-27 ESV

Interestingly, there are other things that refer to "in Jesus' name':

Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me Matthew 18:5 ESV

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. Matthew 18:20 ESV

Many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he!' and they will lead many astray. Mark 13:6 ESV

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

This can be answered by answering a more general question: what does "in someone's (anyone's) name" mean? It means to act by proxy, on the authority of something or someone greater than yourself. It's a concept that our culture has kind of lost, though it still exists as a storytelling trope. When a medieval herald reads a proclamation "in the name of the king," or a cop yells at a fleeing thief to "stop in the name of the law!" this is what they mean. It's a convenient shorthand for "I'm not just saying this of myself; I'm speaking with the authority of a higher power."

So how does this apply to acting (and praying) in the name of Christ? It means to act in his place. To pray in the name of Jesus is to pray what Jesus would pray if he were in your position. When we understand this in the context of Christ as the Perfect Man and our Exemplar, it means to pray for the right things, to seek the will of God and not our own desires. And whatever we ask the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, that will be given to us.

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