In the company I keep (Baptist churches in the Southeastern United States) it is a common feature of every pray to end with the words “in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.” Whether you invoke the name of Jesus at the beginning or the end of prayer, it’s probably something you do or have heard done even if you are not fully aware of the reasons behind it. We should address our prayers to the heavenly Father in the name of Jesus, but it is important to understand why and not just keep repeating words because we’re supposed to.
1) God hears and answers prayer. I like to thank God from time to time simply for listening to us when we pray. Jesus himself said that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and further that “no man comes to the Father but by me.” John 14:6 God is infinitely holy (consider these passages in Isaiah and Revelation) and only what it is holy can come into his presence. Our access to God the Father is only through his Son Jesus. We receive the credit for his righteousness, he took the due penalty for our transgression. Jesus is the door, the bridge, the path or whatever analogy you want to use to describe him as the only way we have access to the Father.
2) Jesus is our Great High Priest. Unlike the Levitical priests in the Old Testament, Jesus is continually in the Holy Places. He sits at the Father’s right hand, and is our advocate with the Father. Hebrews 7:25 says he ever lives to make intercession. Look at the High Priestly prayer in John 17. We pray in Jesus’ name, and even when we are not praying he is praying for us!
3) Perhaps the most obvious reason we pray in Jesus’ name is because he told us to. “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14:13 He repeats this instruction in chapters 15 and 16. Anything Jesus says three times…
Jesus stands at the intersection between the old and new covenants, between the Law and the Gospel, between Heaven and Earth, and most importantly between God and man. He is our contact point, our advocate with the Father, and in him our life is hidden. We have been washed in his blood and according to Paul have put on Christ. Praying in Jesus’ name gives us an audience in Heaven.