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Our prayers tend to always finish the same: In Jesus’ name, amen. But what does it actually mean to pray in Jesus’ name? That doesn’t mean if we use the phrase “in Jesus’ name” as some type of magic spell God has to give us what we ask for. To pray in Jesus’ name means to pray in his character. To pray for what Jesus would pray for. To be passionate and ask for the things Jesus is passionate about. Here are three surefire things you can ask for that are guaranteed to be in Jesus’ name:

1. Pray for something that brings God glory and advances His KingdomFor most of us this will eliminate 85% of our prayers. For too many of us (myself included) our default mode of prayer is to pray for something that brings us glory and advances our kingdom. We know what we want, we just need God to give it to us, so we bring our plans, our desires, our will to God and ask Him to bless it in Jesus’ name. But when Jesus taught his disciples to pray in the Lord’s prayer, what are we supposed to say to God? “Your kingdom come, your will be done” (Matthew 6:10).

2. Pray for something that loves and blesses others. A lot of times, we pray for things that will hurt others. When we harbor bitterness, envy or unforgiveness in our hearts, we ask God for things that will hurt others or we’ll ask for things that will benefit us at the expense of others. If one of my children hurts their sibling and the offended sibling asks me to punish and inflict pain on the instigating child, it puts me in a tough spot. Sure they may be legitimately in the wrong, but both kids, the hurt and the hurt-er are children I love. That’s why Jesus said, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). If you want to pray in Jesus’ name, pray that God would give you an opportunity to love and bless someone today, not harm them.

3. Pray for something that reaches the lost, as opposed to something that entertains the already found. We as Christians are really bad about this. If we’re not careful, our collective prayers will begin to sound like we want God to neglect the lost and put all of his attention on the already found. But as a parent you realize it doesn’t work like that. If you’ve ever lost a child (and I have, by the way, for fifteen agonizing minutes), you become laser-focused on what is lost. You love the kids that are already found, but your eyes are searching for the child that is lost. Go read Luke 15 and you’ll see the heart and the passion of our Heavenly Father: on those that are lost. If you want your heart and passion to begin to line up with God’s heart and passion, begin to pray prayers focused on reaching the lost.

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