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Hashbaz

Why do we pray in the name of Jesus?

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A student came up to me after class today to ask my opinion about another religion professor's teachings concerning prayer. He basically said that our prayers are inherently telestial, so Christ has to "celestialize" them and then carry them to the Father, then He responds through the Holy Ghost. In effect, we're never actually talking directly to the Father or hearing His voice. I disagreed with this, but had a hard time articulating my own thoughts about why we pray to the Father in the name of Christ (other than "because Jesus said so"). Any good references I could point him to that clarifies exactly why we pray the way we do?

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I don't have any references, but I do have an opinion. When we pray we are attempting to enter God's presence. However, no unclean thing can do that, and we are unclean by dint of our mortality (not inherently, but experientially).

Jesus is the medium through which we are reconciled with God, where uncleanness may be removed. We are told in the Book of Mormon that we literally should take Christ's name upon us--to become his. It is in that context that we are allowed to approach God even though we are mortals and in a world where we are subject to sin.

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It strikes me as an old school invocation of an intercessory deity to help carry your prayer to the "big" deity.

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Any good references I could point him to that clarifies exactly why we pray the way we do?

It seems to me, that if we remember in whose name we are even able to pray (and thus approach the Father), even from the beginning of the prayer, the experience is more meaningful.

From an April 1997 conference talk:

When we use these sacred words, "in the name of Jesus Christ," they are much more than a way to get out of a prayer or out of a testimony or out of a talk. We are on holy ground, brothers and sisters. We are using a name most sublime, most holy, and most wonderful--the very name of the Son of God. We are now able to come unto the Father through His Beloved Son. What power and reassurance and peace come when we really pray in His name. This conclusion to the prayer may, in many ways, be the most important part of the prayer. We can appeal to the Father through His victorious Son with confidence that our prayers will be heard. We can ask and receive, we can seek and find and subsequently find the open door.

Entire article: "Pray unto the Father in My Name", Elder L. Edward Brown Of the Seventy

http://www.lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-64-31,00.html

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I have always thought that we pray in the name of Christ because He is our mediator with the Father and because no one (or thing?) can enter the kingdom of God except through Him.

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A student came up to me after class today to ask my opinion about another religion professor's teachings concerning prayer. He basically said that our prayers are inherently telestial, so Christ has to "celestialize" them and then carry them to the Father, then He responds through the Holy Ghost. In effect, we're never actually talking directly to the Father or hearing His voice. I disagreed with this, but had a hard time articulating my own thoughts about why we pray to the Father in the name of Christ (other than "because Jesus said so"). Any good references I could point him to that clarifies exactly why we pray the way we do?

Going along the lines with what Brant has said, the first part of what your friend said is likely more or less correct, but I don't think the last part is correct, that we aren't actually talking to the Father hearing his voice etc. I understand why he might say that, but the Father is ultimately not absent from the equation. Even Joseph in the first vision got to hear and see the Father, before he had Christ take over and be a mediator to expound His Will. Your friend might be partially correct, but, I don't think it's completely accurate. That's kind of an "iffy" it depends kind of question I think. Maybe more often we hear the Fathers will through the voice of the Holy Ghost, though still the Fathers words. But, I don't think it's always. Kind of a tricky one there. I would say in the end it just depends. Maybe it's always the Fathers voice, and the Holy Ghost is just relaying it. And when it's Christ relaying His Will, it's obviously for a more specific and special purpose, such as setting up the Church etc. Ya, I'm going to go with that I think. We are speaking to the Father, and He is speaking to us. The filter and transmission method I don't think is relevant. Holy Ghost also I don't think uses his voice. His method of communication is transferring the Fathers power. So, yep, I would disagree with the last part of your friends thought. Good thought, but, not fully accurate I think.

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I don't have any references, but I do have an opinion. When we pray we are attempting to enter God's presence. However, no unclean thing can do that, and we are unclean by dint of our mortality (not inherently, but experientially).

Jesus is the medium through which we are reconciled with God, where uncleanness may be removed. We are told in the Book of Mormon that we literally should take Christ's name upon us--to become his. It is in that context that we are allowed to approach God even though we are mortals and in a world where we are subject to sin.

That's basically the way I've always understood it, and I said something along those lines to my student, but then he asked about those who offer heartfelt prayers but lack the understanding that they are to be done in the name of Jesus; surely Heavenly Father can hear and even answer such prayers. And if it is Christ's name that allows us to enter his presence, wouldn't the invocation of his name be the first thing we do in prayer, rather than the last? Back in my YSA days I used to work as a courier and would spend hours on end in my car, and would often open a prayer at the beginning of the day and intentionally not "close" it so I could just kind of chat with Heavenly Father throughout the day. I'm sure there were days when I forgot to officially close my prayer in the name of Christ, but I know of a surety that Heavenly Father heard those prayers anyways, and it certainly wasn't because of any cleanness on my own part.

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When Adam fell, the Father could no longer directly communicate with man due to man's sinful nature. Enter Jehovah, the Son and intercessor. Do I believe Jesus hears my humble prayers and takes them to the Father? No, I find this absurd. I believe the entire network of hearing and recording prayers and answering them is meted out to others. I have no pretense to know how the process works, but I've read a number of life after death stories to convince me that yes, our prayers are heard and answered. But certainly, Jesus has more to do with His time than to cart my prayers (and yours) to the Father and back.

Our understanding of how things work beyond the veil is simplified and generalized to a very large degree. There is even evidence that occasionally errors occur (such is the nature of man). But however it operates, I do believe that God knows our predicament and our prayers and requests long in advance and it's entirely possible that the answers to those prayers may also have been entered into the data stream long before we actually utter them.

Do I believe the Lord comes into the presence of the Father and says, "By the way, Joe Blow just offered a blessing on some doughnuts and milk and wants some help on his current project," no...I think we're groping in terms that are simplistic and, in my view, ridiculous. We should just accept the notion that our prayers are heard and answered and that the Father and the Son know us individually and are keenly aware of our circumstances.

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And if it is Christ's name that allows us to enter his presence, wouldn't the invocation of his name be the first thing we do in prayer, rather than the last?

A name has certainly been used as a token in the past - or even as an enabling key. I don't see that in this case at all. Christ saved all of us in advance of anything we have done that needed saving. That creates an interesting situation where sinners/not sinners are the same people separated by some amount of time. For many, that time may come even after their mortal life (never having been able to formally accept Christ's sacrifice before). Nevertheless, his sacrifice creates the condition that allows us to approach God--even when we are not yet fully sinless. In fact, that is probably the way most of us pray--and perhaps one of the best reasons for doing so.

I see praying "in the name" not as name, but as identification. We take upon ourselves his name, meaning we become part of his tribe--his people. We pray as part of that identified people. That is because we recognize it, however. It isn't a magical key, but a sacred recognition. Others who have access to the power of the atonement prior to their ability to formally accept nevertheless have its benefits. Their prayers may be heard even if they are unaware of the power that allows them to reach God--even if they are praying to the wrong god in their ignorance.

That is why it was an "infinite and eternal sacrifice" (Alma 34:10). It has power far beyond the temporal bounds of earth.

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A name has certainly been used as a token in the past - or even as an enabling key. I don't see that in this case at all. Christ saved all of us in advance of anything we have done that needed saving. That creates an interesting situation where sinners/not sinners are the same people separated by some amount of time. For many, that time may come even after their mortal life (never having been able to formally accept Christ's sacrifice before). Nevertheless, his sacrifice creates the condition that allows us to approach God--even when we are not yet fully sinless. In fact, that is probably the way most of us pray--and perhaps one of the best reasons for doing so.

I see praying "in the name" not as name, but as identification. We take upon ourselves his name, meaning we become part of his tribe--his people. We pray as part of that identified people. That is because we recognize it, however. It isn't a magical key, but a sacred recognition. Others who have access to the power of the atonement prior to their ability to formally accept nevertheless have its benefits. Their prayers may be heard even if they are unaware of the power that allows them to reach God--even if they are praying to the wrong god in their ignorance.

That is why it was an "infinite and eternal sacrifice" (Alma 34:10). It has power far beyond the temporal bounds of earth.

Well said. I really do appreciate you taking the time to share your insights (that goes for all of you, not just Brant).

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Well, I'll add a couple of scriptures too...

From the Bible...

Col 3:17 -- "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

From the Book of Mormon...

3 Nephi 18:19-21 -- " Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name; And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.

Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and chldren may be blessed."

GG

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I read an article a while ago about the commandment that prohibits using "the Lord's name in vain," which discussed ancient beliefs wherein deities could be controlled and made to do a mortal's bidding if the mortal were to learn the deity's secret name. So using the power of the name "in vain" would be misusing it for one's own purposes.

This was very interesting, given the emphasis in the LDS church on the power of certain names. There's the secret name from the endowment, with its special uses, as well as the power of the name of Jesus in priesthood rituals (healing, blessing, rebuking demons, sanctifying, etc.).

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Having had a bit of experience with the matter, I know for a fact that the suggestion that Christ carries our prayers to the Father and that we're never actually speaking directly to God or hearing His voice would never in a million years pass through the correlation department of the Church.

You may wish to refer the student to the following talk by Elder Bruce R. McConkie from the BYU website:

http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=6843

Note the following:

Another peril is that those so involved often begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed. In this connection a current and unwise book, which advocates gaining a special relationship with Jesus, contains this sentence:

Because the Savior is our mediator, our prayers go through Christ to the Father, and the Father answers our prayers through his Son.

This is plain sectarian nonsense. Our prayers are addressed to the Father, and to him only. They do not go through Christ, or the Blessed Virgin, or St. Genevieve or along the beads of a rosary. We are entitled to "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

best,

--DB

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Of course your problem is going to be that it was probably Joseph Fielding McConkie who taught the student otherwise. :P

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I read an article once about using "in the name of Jesus Christ" in all our prayers. I couldn't locate the article or I would link it, but the point was that we shouldn't be using it as much as we think we should. It gave the example that one of the most sacred prayers the LDS have in scripture is the dedication of the Kirtland temple, section 109, which indicates was given by revelation. How does it end? Amen, and amen.

In addition, look at why the name of the priesthood was changed:

Before his [Melchizedek's] day it was called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God. But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood.

So just saying "Son of God" was deemed to be too repetitive, yet we close every prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, and that isn't? Whether it be a light hearted prayer to bless the brownies at mutual or standard "let us leave the meeting and go home safe", we are attaching Jesus's name and authority to every single instance. Would he approve? Does he care? Should we be more focused and attuned to what we do "in his name?"

D&C 63: 61

61 Wherefore, let all men beware how they take my name in their lips

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The LDS Bible dictionary tells us in a very clear way why we pray in the name of Christ:

"As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God

(namely, God is our Father, and we are his children),

then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7: 7-11).

Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship.

Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child

are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not

to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings

that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them.

Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work,

and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings."

"We pray in Christ

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I read this verse this morning and for some reason I never noticed it before (the church must have been hiding it from me): Ether 2:12 "Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written."

It struck me because we pray to God the Father but are told that the God of this land (America) is Jesus Christ. We know also that Christ was Jehovah, or the God of the ancient Israelites. My question is for those who have more knowledge, did the ancient Israelites pray to God in the name of Jehovah or did they think in praying to God they were speaking directly to Jehovah?

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"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6. This always made me think that we pray in Jesus' name because everything we have or will ever have comes to us from Jesus or through his hand, up to and including life itself.

Blessings

Asaph

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