What Is in a Name?
I once got a horse that had been called ‘Hot Chick.’ Her temperament and habits very much mimicked her name, as I soon discovered. Another horse who had been dubbed ‘Buck’ was known for his rodeo-like bucking episodes. These animals, among others, taught us the value of naming our horses carefully. The mare became known around our family farm as "Love," based on a large heart shaped star she sported, while the gelding was renamed Buddy. Love became the family pet, and a horse we trusted with our children and their friends. After several years of regular riding Buddy became. . .well quite honestly, he never did become dependable under saddle. But he was a real buddy when being patted or groomed!
I don’t want to encourage superstition here, but there’s more to a name than the sounds made by placing certain letters together and uttering them in a particular way. Names mean something. This is true for humans as well as equines.
Did you ever hear the phrase, "His name is Mud"? After shooting President Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth fled to be treated by a Dr. Samuel Mudd, who knew nothing of the assassination. Nevertheless Dr. Mudd was wrongly convicted of conspiracy in the assassination, tarnishing his reputation. To tarnish ones reputation is to tarnish their name. Hence, anyone whose ‘name is mud’ is someone with a bad reputation.
Another common idiom is that a person "Has a good name in the business." Such a person’s name comes to be synonymous with integrity. Of course it is not their name, per se, that lends credibility to an enterprise, but that individual’s entire nature and character. The name is used identify and reflect the qualities of the individual.
Some common religious formulas and/or teaching relating to the name of Jesus are essentially meaningless until we understand that His Name is more than a word pronounced in certain circumstances. To call on the name of Jesus is to call upon all that He is, and all that He represents. Likewise, to come in the name of Jesus is to come as His bona fide representative in a particular circumstance. In fact, uttering the Name of Names, bereft of the context of Who He is, may be akin to trusting in a magic formula or a meaningless chant. Indeed, some of these are among those who have ‘a form of godliness, but deny its power.’
When we say that we are praying "In Jesus’ name," what we are declaring is that we come before God with Jesus’ purity and clarity of heart, mind and intentions on the topic. We are, in short, praying ‘according to His will.’ However, we may not actually speak His name out loud, and yet be praying an effective, powerful prayer that is according to the will and purposes of God. In that case we have in fact come before God Almighty ‘In Jesus’ name.’
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17 (NKJV)
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. John 14:12-14 (NKJV)
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. I John 5:14-15 (NKJV)