Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Would Paul have prayed in Jesus' name?

In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul says,

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.

So if Paul had a Jewish family over for dinner, do you think he'd pray in Jesus' name?

Or, more close-to-home, if I have my Jewish family members over for dinner, should I be explicit in naming the name of Jesus when I pray? Or, out of respect for the fact that they do not worship Jesus, should I simply give thanks to God without mentioning Jesus?


  1. Larry,

    In the scenerio you outline, are you at that point praying to the same God? What does omitting Jesus' name consciously communicate to your family?


  2. No, I don't think we are praying to the same God. But I am the one praying, and God knows and I know that I can only approach this God in prayer through Christ and His work on my behalf.

    I guess your second question is what compelled me to write the post in the first place:

    Perhaps I am communicating that I am respectful and sensitive to people who don't believe like me, and will not force my beliefs on others who don't share my views of God.

    On the other hand, perhaps I am showing that Christ is marginal in my life and priorities...though I would hope that the entirety of my life shows that is not the case.

    What do you think?

  3. Larry,

    I think certain things about this, but I'm really not completely sure. I do think that our prayers should be to God and not primarily for those standing in the room around us. For example, how would you feel if every time I spoke to you, I tailored my words for someone standing off to the side who doesn't know you? It seems a bit artificial and a bit rude to me. This may be what we're doing to God if we make a conscious decision not to mention who he is.
    Also, if we really love our neighbor, I think we'd want to be as clear as possible about the only door to salvation. If it angers them, I guess it's a chance to share the Gospel. Jesus is a "stumbling block to Jews" but Scripture doesn't follow this by saying "therefore, don't offend them by mentioning him." In fact, it seems to be a given that you will be persecuted for this very reason.

    In situations where I've been sure that I can't pray in Jesus' name, and I wasn't prepared for the consequences, I've not prayed at all.

    Still, I don't think it's wrong to pray without using Jesus' name. There are examples in Scripture of praying to the Father. I guess it's the heart behind the prayer that would determine whether this is right.


  4. Good problem. One shouldn't avoid the conflict over our allegiance to Jesus. However, prayer is perhaps not the right time to "insert" the issue. I would say that if the hearers already know your allegiance, perhaps a heartfelt prayer would more boldly challenge the hearers. One needs much grace in such ticklish situations.