What’s in a name?

“…That which we call a rose

By any other word would smell as sweet.”

Have you ever thought about why we use the words we use? I think about this quite often, as did Shakespeare when he wrote the above line from Romeo and Juliet. Sometimes I wonder if what we call blue is actually blue. What if what we call blue is really, truly purple and the definition just got lost in translation somewhere along the way? Language is a set of systems that we use to define reality, a subject I find fascinating.

I believe words are a symbolic system set up by God because he created reality through His words. These symbols are indeed important, though many times we just throw them around without being intentional. For example, I’ve always struggled with the idea that saying “In Jesus Name” is the stamp at the end of the prayer that we say to give our prayer just that little boost it needs to get up through the atmosphere and into God’s ear. It’s become a habit for so many Christians, like saying “Sincerely,” or “Many Thanks,” in your automatic signature at the bottom of your email. Is that really what Jesus intended when he said these words in John 14:13-14?

“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.”

Jesus wasn’t one for repeating empty phrases, he even spoke against that (Matthew 6:7), and yet that’s what his name has become for many people. After pondering what he could’ve really meant by this I dug out my concordance and found the results for “name”, which were exactly what you would expect, until I reached the reference for John 14:13, which says “in recognition of the authority of (sometimes combined with the thought of relying or resting on)”.

For a moment, let’s change that verse a little to say this “Whatever you ask in my name, recognizing my authority and relying wholly on me to do it, this I will do…” That’s a different way to pray. Many times I’ve prayed “in Jesus name” without resting completely in the authority and power of God. Thank God that He is gracious and patient with us as we’re navigating our way through this topsy turvy faith walk, but I believe something extra special happens when we catch the heart and intention of what Jesus meant.

What if we prayed from a place of rest because we recognize the supreme authority of God in our lives and in the world? What would the world look like if we used our words intentionally, knowing that each one contains power?

I believe prayers like that could change the world, what about you?

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