Let me explain the question.

The Jews consider Moses and Abraham their main prophets, and they pronounce those two names in the same way that those names were said during their lifetime. So if a Rabbi goes into a time machine and jumps out back in those olden days, then sees Moses and yells 'He ya Moses' , Moses would have turned around since he recognized his own name. Same goes for Muslims, 'Yo Mohammed!', and he probably would at least register that someone is calling him. (in the texts they pray from the names remain how it was then, unchanged, I assume, and not Anglicized).

But if a Christian from an English speaking country would hypothetically travel back in a time machine , and see Jesus with followers walking away, and yell out 'Yo, Jesus', or 'Mr. Christ? Jesus Christ?' chances are that Jesus would not turn around, since that was nothing like the name he used. He had a name Yahushua ben Yosef that he was called by everyone around him I assume.

He never said that I am a man with no name or every name. And the word Christos or Christ, is that even a word in a language that was spoken in Bethlehem at the time or when an apostle said 'You are the Christ' , and we assume 'You are the' was in whatever language they spoke (Hebrew or Aramaic) , so that means a completely different word was used instead of 'Christ' in that phrase, making Jesus Christ to be a name as similar to the original as 'Jukka the Wise' for example.

So my question is,

what makes Christians be certain that their prayers go to the right individual since they are not invoking the name (either Jesus or Christ) that was used during his every day interactions with the apostles, followers, family, friends, coworkers, etc. and the name he, himself introduced himself as?

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    Since Jesus knows our hearts better than we do, we are certain He knows we are address Him even if we don't speak Aramaic or Hebrew and even if we speak with really thick accents. When I was in Ukraine, I answered to people who used the long "o" instead of the short "o" in my name (John).
    – Narnian
    Feb 4, 2014 at 16:53
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    Welcome to the site I will not down vote your question since as a new visitor I do not expect you to know all the nuances of the site, but I do heartily recommend that you check out the help section and see what makes a good question and good answer.
    – BYE
    Feb 4, 2014 at 17:26
  • @NickNo I don't want to be rude, but this question and your comments in response to the answers makes it seem like you are arguing for the sake of it. Feb 4, 2014 at 17:53
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    See also Should "Jesus" be rendered "Yeshu‘a" in English?
    – Caleb
    Feb 4, 2014 at 18:11
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    Mod Notice: To commentors, please refrain from using comments as a place to discuss theology or debate the issues raised by a question. If you have a request for clarification or constructive criticism then go for it. If not, please refrain. Or if you have an answer, answer.
    – Caleb
    Feb 4, 2014 at 18:15

3 Answers 3


I'm not sure if this is a serious question. It is true that the customary modern English pronunciation of "Jesus" is different from anything we'd have heard in first-century Judaea. However, the overwhelming majority of Christians would not worry at all their prayers being misdelivered to the wrong person.

For one thing, there's no mechanism for prayers being "delivered" to anyone; God hears prayer because he knows the human heart. If you were to pray to someone else, they would not automatically be aware of your words or thoughts. (This is the case even for those Christians who endorse prayer via the saints or angels - it is still God who is doing it all.) Since God knows you intend to pray to him, in the person of Jesus or otherwise, everything is fine.

This was certainly the sense of the Church Fathers; Tertullian and Cyprian both wrote "God listens to the heart, not the voice" (Deus non vocis sed cordis auditor est, in Cyprian's De Dominica oratione and Tertullian's De oratione), which has become something of a proverb. This comes from powerful witness in the Old and New Testaments.

For example, there is Psalm 119:145,

With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD.

Ambrose's commentary on this verse says, "Let the heart be the first to cry, if we wish that what we utter should be heard by God" (due to the Latin numeration of the Psalms, this can be found as his commentary on Psalm 118, not 119). This is to say that the primary force of prayer is in the intention, rather than in the specific words used.

In Romans 8:26-27, Paul also says:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

He calls us to have faith in God's will for us, and his care for us, despite our inability to ask for the right thing, or in the right way. The Lord's Prayer itself expresses this faith. As Jesus says in his introduction to that prayer (Matthew 6:7-8),

When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Given this, there does not seem to be a basis for worry that God will not hear our prayers if we use the wrong pronunciation of Jesus' name - or even if we say nothing out loud at all.

(Scripture quotations are from the NRSV.)

  • @NickNo If Jesus is God then the commandment ought to encompass him; though "taking a name in vain" may be understood to cover all sorts of things, including disrespectful or careless speech, attributing malice or evil to God, swearing rash oaths, claiming divine endorsement for ones own selfish actions, etc. A broad interpretation is consistent with the Sermon on the Mount, as well as with Jewish law and practice which does not limit the "protection" of the commandment to the Divine Name alone, but to all kinds of names and descriptions of God.
    – James T
    Feb 4, 2014 at 17:27

When the Apostles asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he did not tell the to pray 'Our Jesus', rather he told them to pray Our Father who art in Heaven.

Jesus only told them that what they asked in his name they would be given:

John 16:23 KJV

And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

As I read that Jesus is saying always pray to the father, and if we ask in Jesus name we will receive it, however I consider that to be conditional in that we need to be asking for something to do with our Kingdom life, and not frivolous things.

but you may read those scriptures differently.

  • Praying in the name of Jesus is not a REQUIREMENT it is a choice.
    – BYE
    Feb 4, 2014 at 17:35
  • @NickNo "In my name" does not mean "using the sound by which people call me". There are other questions on this site about that, or you can ask yourself. Feb 4, 2014 at 18:40

i may not resonate to the sound "Robaire" or something like that, but i realize that such is how maybe a Frenchman may refer to me. (i don't even like "Rob", sounds a little upper-crust to me.)

i don't think that God is listening so much to the acoustical vibrations of air molecules at our supper table or worship/prayer space. i think that God is "listening" (not limited to the sense of hearing or sound) to the "vibrations" (not associated with any physical quantity) of the "heart" (not really about the blood pump). it's the cry (and gratitude and whatever else we lay at Jesus' feet) of our spirit that God hears.

we just need to remember what the important stuff is.

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    When you write here, please make the effort to properly capitalize. This isn't Facebook, and our style guide would be more equivalent to what a university would expect to see in a thesis paper than what you might doodle to your friends. If nothing else use something like this on your text before you post.
    – Caleb
    Feb 4, 2014 at 18:06
  • @NickNo I wasn't referring to you in the first place, but yes the community here does actually have some expectations for writing style.
    – Caleb
    Jun 20, 2014 at 8:09
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    Please don't use edits to handle stuff that belongs on meta. If you have an issue with moderation take it to Christianity Meta, not meta comments within posts. Thanks.
    – wax eagle
    Jun 20, 2014 at 14:03
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    To expect that users of a site that strives to be academic actually write academic quality posts goes hand-in-hand. How hard is it really for you to capitalize your sentences? Probably just a little bit easier than undoing it when someone else has done it for you. As far as my voting habit on your posts goes, you get a down vote for persisting in this behavior and I encourage everyone else to do so too. You obstinateness on this issue is just stupid.
    – user3961
    Jul 11, 2014 at 23:32

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