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New City Catechism 39.3

Question 39: With what attitude should we pray?

Answer: With love, perseverance, and gratefulness; in humble submission to God’s will, knowing that, for the sake of Christ, he always hears our prayers.

What does it mean to pray “in Jesus’ name”? That phrase has become so familiar to us that we probably don’t think very often about why we say it at the end of our prayers. Although it is a short phrase, it is packed full of theological meaning.

When we pray in the name of Jesus, we are acknowledging what the catechism teaches us in this question, namely, that “for the sake of Christ, [God] always hears our prayers.” That is to say, God does not hear us because we are worthy to petition him on our own merits. He hears us because we approach him through the Mediator he has appointed for us: Jesus Christ his Son. As our high priest, Jesus Christ the man “carries” our prayers, so to speak, before the throne of Heaven, where he has every right to be heard. Every time we pray in the name of Jesus, we acknowledge the central importance of his priesthood, which qualifies us for access to God.

Without a mediator, you have no hope before God. When you pray, reflect on the glory of your Mediator as you pray in the name of Jesus.

Suggested passage for personal or family reading: Hebrews 7. What does this passage teach us about the high priesthood of Jesus Christ? What implications does the priesthood of Christ have for us? What implications specifically does it have for our prayers?

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