Is Prayer Like Playing “Simon Says”?

When you pray, do you add “In Jesus’s name” or “In the name of Jesus, I pray”, or something similar? Maybe you like the Jewish version, “B’shem Yeshua!”?

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In the Gospels, there is a place where Yeshua says that whatever we ask for, in his name, we shall receive, so long as we faithfully believe that we will receive it.

Over the years I have heard and prayed with others, and so often I hear people praying and invoking the name of the Messiah, in whichever form they know it, over and over. I have heard people pray to God to give thanks for food, and after thanking God they say “In Jesus’s name”. My question is this: Why do you have to invoke the name of the Messiah if all you are doing is thanking God? I mean, if I am giving thanks, why do I have to do it in Yeshua’s name? He never said to use his name every time we pray, only when we are asking for something.

Praying to God should be heartfelt and honest, and to invoke the name of the Messiah with every prayer, whether asking or thanking and to do so over and over again, isn’t really what (I believe) Yeshua meant when he said to pray in his name.

Do you recall the childhood game “Simon Says”? You needed to be very careful to do what the leader did, so long as he said “Simon says to …”, and if you did it without him saying “Simon says”, then you lost and were out of the game.

I think sometimes people pray like they were playing Simon Says. They use the name of Yeshua over and over, for each and every single request, like if they didn’t then God would refuse them.

Oh, Lord, in Yeshua’s name, help me do better at work (God thinks to himself, “OK, I will”), and Oh Lord, in Yeshua’s name, help me to be a better husband (God thinks, “That’s a good one, sure I will”), and Lord, God, please help me to be a better father to my children (God thinks, “Hah! You didn’t say ‘In Yeshua’s name’, so NO!…you’re on your own!”)

Of course, this is a comical example of what I am talking about, and I doubt that God would refuse a legitimate, heartfelt prayer whether or not we asked in Yeshua’s name. I also think that God would not have a problem with us waiting until the end of the prayer, at which time we would say something like, “All that I have asked, I ask for in the name of Yeshua, the Messiah.”

Now, to be honest, I often find myself doing this exact thing- asking and invoking Yeshua’s name more than once in the same prayer. I feel there are some things that are just so important to me, I need that little, extra oomph to my request, maybe just so that I can convince myself that I really emphasize the importance of this, particular request. And, when I do that, I realize how silly I am thinking that God doesn’t know how important it is to me.

Prayer is something we do that we don’t really need to do because God knows our heart, and he knows what we need, and he knows the best time to give it to us. But, then again, he wants us to pray to him because when we do, at least for myself, it strengthens my bond with him. It lets me feel that connection, and when he answers my prayers, I know that he listened. And when he touches me I know he is there, and that we are bonded.

There is NOTHING in the world as wonderful, as emotionally fulfilling, or as loving as feeling the touch of God during prayer. And if we didn’t pray, we wouldn’t ever have that.

Asking in the name of Yeshua is not meant as some qualifier for acceptance, but as a means to give glory to God, through the glory he gave to his son, the Messiah. I know that sounds like circular logic, but here is how it works: first of all, we should always give all the glory to God. When Yeshua told us that when we ask for something in his name, and if we faithfully believe we will receive it (indicating our faith in Yeshua) then it will be done, that glorifies him (because his name was powerful), but at the same time, it glorifies God because God honored the word of his son.

So, by praying in the name of Yeshua, we give glory to both Messiah and God, but the main glory goes to God because, ultimately, he is the one answering the prayer.

It’s all a little confusing, I know, but the point is that God knows what we want and what we mean and what we really need, and when we pray and invoke Yeshua’s name, it doesn’t have to be for every single request, done over and over, and it certainly doesn’t have to be done when we are giving thanks to the Lord. In fact, invoking Yeshua’s name when praying thanks to God is almost a waste! Yeshua’s name is powerful, and it is influential, so why use it when we aren’t asking for anything?

The biggest mistake I have seen when Believers pray is that they go beyond what Yeshua said, and instead of praying to God invoking Yeshua’s name, they pray to Yeshua. Or when giving thanks, they give thanks to Yeshua instead of to God. He never said to pray to him, he never accepted people giving him the glory or the honor (he always gave that to God), and he certainly wouldn’t want us to pray to anyone else like so many do when they pray to a saint. When Yeshua said “When you pray…” he meant praying to God; praying to anyone or anything else is idolatry.

There is one last thing we need to remember: praying for riches, material rewards, or sinful things will not be honored. When Yeshua talked about praying, he was talking about asking for spiritual growth, real needs (such as health and forgiveness, not toys and fun-to-have junk), or when acting as an intercessor for others. The things we are to ask from God are to be those things that are godly, spiritually rewarding, edifying, and in accordance with the way God tells us we should live, which is found in the Torah. Those are the sorts of things we can faithfully expect to receive.

If you find yourself praying and asking in Messiah’s name often during the prayer, you don’t really need to do that- this isn’t Simon Says. God is understanding and knows your heart- just ask, with a contrite spirit and humility, for what you need, and when you are done, ask that God do this not because of your righteousness or worthiness, but because you are asking in Yehsua’s name so that by his righteousness and worthiness you may receive.

Praying in the name of Messiah Yeshua is sort of like knocking on the Speakeasy door, and when the little slot is opened, saying “Yeshua sent me.” so that you can gain entrance not because of who you are, but because of who he is.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

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