What does God’s word say about praying in Jesus’s Name? Is it more proper to end my prayer with “in Jesus’s name” (amen)? I ask because I’ve noticed inconsistency – but maybe it doesn’t matter either way?
The relevant reference is John 16:23-27. Verse 23 reads, “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”
First, consider what the phrase means. When a policeman says, “Stop, in the name of the Law.” he is appealing to authority beyond his own. It is “the Law” that he is appealing to in his demand that someone obey. The Lord has given us authorization to use His name when we pray to the Father. This is an immense privilege! One of the great revelations of the New Testament is that God has drawn near to us in the person of Christ and as a result we are encouraged to draw near to the Father. These verses are intended to give us confidence in the Father’s care and interest in our needs.
Second, we should carefully consider whether our request is consistent with the Lord’s mind, since we could dishonor Him by asking selfishly while presuming to have His authorization. Indeed, He could not really authorize such an action and our use of His name would be vain, at the very least. However, this is not said to discourage us, but to encourage solemn consideration of what we pray for. Are we praying for that which glorifies God and builds up His people?
The inconsistency that you notice is a result of how different individuals interpret these verses. Some take these verses very literally and feel that they should actually add the works “in Jesus’s Name” to their prayers to show that they are claiming this promise. The danger is, of course, that the phrase itself becomes a ritual and the meaning is lost. For this reason, others emphasize the significance of the meaning and try to avoid ritualism by not using the phrase. Still others will notice that this is only relevant for a prayer to the Father and so do not use the closing phrase when praying to the Lord Jesus.
The most important aspect of this passage is that we have the privilege of appealing to the Lord’s own will and authority when praying to the Father. This should have the effect of deepening our desire to know His will with regard to what we pray for. The real lesson is that we have been brought into fellowship with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Thus, we are “friends” and so He has revealed to us His ways and will. (Jn 15:15) This is the context of this whole passage.
This is clearly a place where each should act according to their own understanding and conscience. We should avoid acting simply out of ritual or being critical of another person’s prayers.