August 27, 2006 Q & A

Prayer "for Jesus' Sake"?


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.