The Finish Line

finish

Blessed be his glorious name forever; may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen. Psalm 72:19

We often are asked to pray for different functions, whether it be for a meal,  a gathering in a group or even in church.  Sometimes the audience is mixed with believers and non-believers. We tend to rush through it without much thought of content or impact.  Often we end it with something like “In Jesus name we pray. Amen.”  Often the ending is almost carelessly added on, almost as if by rote.

But it is the last line of the prayer – the “Finish Line” if you will, that contains the power of the prayer.   Often we end prayers with “In Jesus Name, Amen” without much thought as to why we do it – it’s just a routine, after all.  Or is it?  Actually, the Finish Line is the energy that drives the power of the prayer, much as gas is the energy that powers the engine of a car.  Without gas, you have a car standing still and going nowhere.  Sure, it’s a car (or the metaphor – a prayer), but it is not going anywhere.

Several years ago, at a luncheon co-sponsored by my law firm, I was asked to do an invocation before people ate their meal.  The featured guest at the affair was a professor of Economics from a nearby University who was well known and a popular speaker.  In my prayer, I asked God to bless the group and their respective businesses, but also thanked God  for owning everything we possess as a reminder that our prosperity comes from Him and that we should remember His blessings in our daily lives.  I ended the prayer with “In Jesus Name I pray.  Amen.”   A Jewish associate of mine came up to me afterwards and said that he was not happy that I ended the prayer that way and that he could have joined in the prayer if I had left the “Finish Line” off.  This conversation took place long before being politically correct was popular.  Even so, I understood his perspective to someone who doesn’t know the Messiah.

I wrestled with that issue for some time. It was one of the first times in my early Christian life where I felt challenged on what was the appropriate thing to do in those circumstances.  Should I be careful and water it down into some neutral ending such as “In His name we pray” where there is enough ambiguity of whether I am referring to God or to Jesus?  If I did that, I might not offend our Jewish friends.  It took me a while to come up with the correct answer as to how we should end prayers.

You see, “Amen” doesn’t just mean something like “I’m done.  That’s it.  Prayer is over.”   It’s not punctuation.  In fact, Amen (Ah-mane) is an ancient Hebrew word that is kept intact into the New Testament Greek and it means “Yes.  So be it!  Let this be done!”   It is authoritative and a declaration like a command, not a perfunctory ending like “talk to you later” at the end of a phone call.

In Jesus name” is even more of a declaration and command.  It is invoking the authority of the ruler of the universe and His power to affirm what we have just prayed.  In the spiritual world, what makes prayer effective is that it runs on God’s authority through Jesus.  That’s an essential secret to prayer and without it, our prayers are reduced in their effectiveness.

Jesus gave insights on this in several places; one is in Matthew 28:18 where he said:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

If you let that sink in, you realize what an impact you are having by not praying in your own strength, but praying with all authority in the heavenly and spiritual realms.  That’s real power.  But Jesus didn’t stop there by describing his authority.  He tells us several times on how to claim that authority in your prayers.

In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”  John 16:23 (NIV)

My challenge today is for you to consider that the man who knew best has told us how to invoke his kingdom in our prayer life.  May you be mindful of that when you have the opportunity to pray in public or in private.  Praying “In Jesus Name” invokes the power of the the Almighty through Jesus.  That’s a lot of power in just three words.

 

 

 

 

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