I was taught to pray in the name of Jesus (or "in Jesus' name we pray"). Lately, I have heard several people pray "for the sake of Jesus" or "for Jesus' sake". Is it correct (orthodox) to pray "for Jesus' sake"? I thought we prayed for our sake, in Jesus' holy name.
Thank you for your help and time.
Thank you for your question.
The Westminster Larger Catechism #180 tells us what it means to pray in the name of Christ:
"To pray in the name of Christ is, in obedience to his command, and in confidence on his promises, to ask mercy for his sake; not by bare mentioning of his name, but by drawing our encouragement to pray, and our boldness, strength, and hope of acceptance in prayer, from Christ and his mediation."
Notice that praying in the name of Christ means "to ask mercy for his sake." When Jesus commands his disciples to pray to the Father in his name (John 16:24), he is telling us to ask God to hear our prayers for the sake of, or because of, what Christ has done as our mediator. In one sense we are praying for our sake, because we are sinners who need mercy. But the only reason a holy God answers the prayers of sinners is for Jesus' sake, because of what he did for us by his righteous life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection. When this is what is meant, I think it is perfectly orthodox to pray "for Jesus' sake."
May God richly bless you.
"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)
The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.
The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.
While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.
You will receive an answer by email. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.
The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.
Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been editedall personal references are removed, Scripture references may be added, and sometimes portions are expandedto make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.