When praying to God, why do we always say, “In Jesus’ name I pray”?

Since biblical times, God’s name has been understood as a symbol of God’s very self. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,

“A name expresses a person’s essence and identity and the meaning of this person’s life. … To disclose one’s name is to make oneself known to others; in a way it is to hand oneself over by becoming accessible, capable of being known more intimately and addressed personally” (203).

God, by revealing Godself to human beings under many names throughout history, showed us God’s desire to be in loving relationship to us, to be known intimately and addressed personally by humankind. As salvation history unfolded, God revealed an even more intimate, personal face: God-with-us, in human flesh — Jesus. In turn, Jesus tells us how intimately he is connected to the Father:

“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me… I go to the Father, and whatever you ask in my name I will do, so as to glorify the Father in the Son.” (John 14:11-13)

When we pray to God in Jesus’ name, we recall this intimate connection and respond to Jesus’ invitation to enter into it, being one with Jesus just as Jesus and the Father are one.

Neela Kale

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.