William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

Praying in the Name of Christ

by Thomas Boston

1. Negatively. It is not a bare faithless mentioning of his name in our prayers,
nor finishing our prayers with them, Matt. 7:21. The saints use the words,
"through Jesus Christ our Lord," 1 Cor. 15:57, but often is that scabbard
produced, while the sword of the Spirit is not in it. The words are said, but
the faith is not exercised.

Praying at His Command

2. Positively. To pray in the name of Christ is to pray,
first, At his command, to go to God by his order, John 16:24, "Until now you
have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive." Christ as God
commands all men to pray, to offer that piece of natural duty to God; but that
is not the command meant. But Christ as Mediator sends his own to his Father to
ask supply of their wants, and allows them to tell that he sent them, as one
recommends a poor body to a friend, John 16:24, just cited. So to pray in the
name of Christ is to go to God as sent by the poor man's friend. So it implies,

1. The soul's having come to Christ in the first place, John 15:7, "If you abide
in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be
done for you." He that would pray aright, must do as those who made Blastus the
king's chamberlain their friend first, and then made their plea to their king,
Acts 12:20.

2. The soul's taking its encouragement to pray from Jesus Christ, Heb 4:14,
"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the
heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not
have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all
points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the
throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of

The way to the throne in heaven is blocked up by our sins. And sinners have no
confidence to seek the Lord. Jesus Christ came down from heaven, died for the
criminals, and gathers them to himself by effectual calling. He, as having all
interest with his Father, bids them go to his Father in his name, and ask what
they need, assuring them of acceptance. And from thence they take their
encouragement, viz. from his promises in the word. And he gives them his token
with them, which the Father will own, and that is his own Spirit, Rom 8:26,27,
"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we
should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us
with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows
what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints
according to the will of God.

Praying to God through Christ

Secondly, It is to direct our prayers to God through Jesus Christ, Heb 7:25,
"Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God
through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them," and in
chapter 13:15, "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of
praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name."
Praying Christ's name is depending wholly on Christ's merit and intercession for
access, acceptance, and a gracious return:

1. Depending on Christ for access to God, Eph 3:12, "In whom we have boldness
and access with confidence through faith in Him." There is no access to God but
through him, John 14:6 "No one comes to the Father except through Me." They that
attempt otherwise to come to God, will get the door thrown in their face. But we
must take hold of the Mediator, and come in at his side, who is the Secretary of

2. Depending on him for acceptance of our prayers, Eph 1:6 "He has made us
accepted in the Beloved." Our Lord Christ is the only altar that can sanctify
our gift. If one lay the stress of the acceptance of his prayers on his
attitude, feelings, tenderness, and so on, the prayer will not be accepted. A
crucified Christ only can bear the weight of the acceptance of either our
persons or performances.

3. Depending on him for a gracious answer, 1 John 5:14, "Now this is the
confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will,
He hears us." No prayers are heard and answered but for the Mediator's sake; and
whatever petitions agreeable to God's will are put up to God, in this
dependence, are heard.

Why Must We Pray in the Name of Christ?

The reason of this may be taken up in these two things

1. There is no access for a sinful creature to God without a Mediator, Isa 59:2,
"But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden
His face from you, So that He will not hear." John 14:6 "I am the way, the
truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Sin has set
us at a distance from God, and has bolted the door of our access to him, that it
is beyond our power, or that of any creature, to open it for us. His justice
rejects the criminal, his holiness the unclean creature, unless there be an
acceptable person to go between him and us. Our God is a consuming fire: and so
there is no immediate access for a sinner to him.

2. And there is none appointed nor fit for that work but Christ, 1 Tim. 2:5. It
is he alone who is our great High Priest. None but he has satisfied justice for
our sins. And as he is the only Mediator of redemption, so he is the only
Mediator of intercession, 1 John 2:1 "If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with
the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." The sweet savour of his merit alone is
capable to procure acceptance to our prayers, in themselves unworthy, Rev.


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