What do we mean when we say, "In Jesus' Name"?
What do we expect to happen when we apply that phrase to the end of our prayers?
Christians love to quote the scripture, and others like it, which support a type of faith "In Jesus Name" which will "move mountains". (Matthew 17-20-21, Mark 9:28-29)
But what does that verse even mean?
These verses are part of the larger conclusion of the story at the base of the Mount of Transfiguration. The 9 disciples were left in trust by Jesus at the base of the mountain to handle things while he was up the mountain giving much needed revelation to Peter the ear-chopping, Jesus-denying hothead, and James and John, His 2 violent, power hungry sons of thunder. They could not be trusted at the base of the mountain; they needed more intimacy and time with Jesus.
The 9 left were so busy arguing about who would be first in Jesus' Kingdom, and grumbling about why they were left down the mountain, that when the demon-possessed boy was brought to them they, so focused on themselves, lacked the faith in Jesus to cast him out.
After Jesus returned down the mountain and exorcised the demon, the disciples asked him why they couldn't cast out the demon. Jesus makes this famous statement:
Mat 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
We read this, and immediately assume that we should be seeing literal mountains moving, not realizing that the mountain to be moved by mustard seed faith was the mountain of pride in the heart of the disciples, which had them arguing about who would be the greatest (Mark 9:33-34)
We have no idea what Jesus means when he says what he says. Our faith many times is totemic, shamanistic, spiritualist-ic at best. We have faith in God for the result we pray for, because we know God is a powerful God. We reference all the Bible stories, claim all the promises, and work our tails off to be as holy a possible...Or when we need something, we go through this purge of mass confession and fasting, as if that activity will build in us the faith in God and personal holiness necessary to grasp hold of the thing desired. We endeavor to show God that we are worthy of his effort on our behalf, and we seal of our prayer "In Jesus name...amen"
What are we doing? Do we even know? How do we explain apparent failure to those who have not been healed? What is our excuse?
"Someone at the anointing service lacked faith",
or "Someone at the anointing service had sin in their life",
or there was some thing in the room which was cursed/possessed with a demon, and since we didnt get it out of the room, it blocked either our prayer from reaching God, or God's answer rom reaching us."
Have you ever noticed how Hebrews 11 can list for you the greats through whom and for whom God has done great things? Yet it doesn't even bother to attempt list those who were beheaded, torn apart, hung, tortured, starved to the death, etc.? It simply says "still others..." Why? Because there are too many "no's" to be counted.
But why are there so many no's? How can they have faith of a mustard seed and still get a no? Did those others not have enough faith? Why are no mountains moving?
Modern paganism and witchcraft differentiate between a prayer and a spell:
A prayer is a request. It's where you go directly to the Universe, the Goddess, Allah, Yahweh, Herne, Apollo, or whoever you may be hoping will help out, and you ask them point blank, "Please help me with _______________."
A spell, on the other hand, is a command. It's the redirection of energy, causing a change, to conform with your will. While you may ask a god or goddess for a little extra mojo in your spellwork, it's not always necessary. In a spell, the power comes from within the caster. In a prayer, the power comes from the gods. (http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/prayersandincantations/a/Role_of_Prayer.htm)
Wikipedia picks up on the definitions of spells with the following:
Modern uses and interpretations
The performance of magic almost always involves the use of language. Whether spoken out loud or unspoken, words are frequently used to access or guide magical power. In "The Magical Power of Words" (1968) S. J. Tambiah argues that the connection between language and magic is due to a belief in the inherent ability of words to influence the universe. Bronisław Malinowski, in Coral Gardens and their Magic (1935), suggests that this belief is an extension of man's basic use of language to describe his surroundings, in which "the knowledge of the right words, appropriate phrases and the more highly developed forms of speech, gives man a power over and above his own limited field of personal action."
Let's pause. When God created all things, They created all things by His Word (Genesis 1, John 1). Then God made man in Their image. There for there are some who suggest that has God reigned by His Word, so also Humanity was to rule by our word. However, when we sinned, we lost authority of rulership, and thus the authority of our word to rule things according to our will. Thus, magic is an attempt to regain the authority of our word over our environment. Wikipedia continues on:
Not all speech is considered magical. Only certain words and phrases or words spoken in a specific context are considered to have magical power. ...Malinowski argues that "the language of magic is sacred, set and used for an entirely different purpose to that of ordinary life." The two forms of language are differentiated through word choice, grammar, style, or by the use of specific phrases or forms: prayers, spells, songs, blessings, or chants, for example. Sacred modes of language often employ archaic words and forms in an attempt to invoke the purity or "truth" of a religious or a cultural "golden age". The use of Hebrew in Judaism is an example. Another potential source of the power of words is their secrecy and exclusivity. Much sacred language is differentiated enough from common language that it is incomprehensible to the majority of the population and it can only be used and interpreted by specialized practitioners (magicians, priests, shamans, even mullahs). In this respect, Tambiah argues that magical languages violate the primary function of language: communication. Yet adherents of magic are still able to use and to value the magical function of words by believing in the inherent power of the words themselves and in the meaning that they must provide for those who do understand them.... (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spell_(paranormal)
That's Wicca and paganism. Does this have a Christian counterpart? Absolutely! It is the high liturgy Christian Churches (Catholics, Orthodox, etc) when they demand the mass be said in Latin, and Charismatics and Pentecostals when they speak in tongues. That is their magic language. It is those preachers who use the Greek and Hebrew too much, as it is those Christians who love to bang on the proverbial drum of God's real name: Jesus must be called Yeshua, YHWH-ists demand God be called YHWH, and Jehovah's Witness demand that his name be Jehovah (a word which doesn't even exist, but is a combintion of YHWH and the vowels from Adonai). It is also those of us who love to pray in Kings Jame's English, even though that is not the way we speak normally, as if somehow praying while speak with that archaic vernacular is to participate in the holy. When we demand that the language of the prayer, ritual, or service use certain grammatical structures, verbage which is not longer used in everyday language, or even a language that is not spoken by the majority of our population, we are participating in a "magic language". Even Islam has magic language, because the belief is that the Quran cannot be understood rightly until one reads it in Arabic, as if the Divine being Himself only speaks Arabic. In all of these, there is power inherent in the person posessing the sacred word, which gives hims special access, based on that word to the divine, and that words carries authority over the divine.
Joh 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
Joh 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Joh 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
Joh 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
Joh 16:24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
Joh 16:26-27 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God