From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Eighteen, Day Three
Just as Yahweh is God's personal name revealed in the Old Testament, Jesus is the personal name of the One we call Redeemer, Lord, and Christ. His name is intimately linked to the God of the Hebrew Scriptures because it means "Yahweh is salvation." Indeed, Jesus is Yahweh come to earth. If you have ever pictured God as a distant, wrathful Being, you will have to reconsider that portrait in light of Jesus Christ, who is God bending toward us, God becoming one of us, God reaching out in mercy, God humbling himself, God nailed to a cross, God rising up from the grave to show us the way home. Jesus, name above all names, beautiful Savior, glorious Lord!
Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:20-21
Praying the Name
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11
Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment the spirit left her. Acts 16:16 - 18
Praise God: For manifesting his power and authority through Jesus, his Son.
Offer Thanks: For the surpassing power of Jesus Christ.
Confess: Any occasions on which you have taken the Lord's name in vain.
Ask God: To lift up the name of his Son in your life.
There's power in the name of Jesus, even wonder-working power. But the name "Jesus" is not some kind of magical incantation. Invoking it is not like rubbing a lamp to conjure a genie. No, the power of the name of Jesus is released when people earnestly cry out to him and when they live in submission to him.
I've heard many stories that drive this home. One was told by a woman in my church. While walking to her car in a deserted garage one night, a thug accosted her, knife in hand. Though she was terrified, this woman managed to command her would-be mugger, carjacker, rapist, murderer, or whatever he was: "Get away from me in the name of Jesus!" To her astonishment, though they were alone in the garage, the man backed up as though someone had just threatened him with a knife. Then he turned and fled.
Then there's the story of E. P. Scott, a missionary to India. One day Scott decided to visit a mountain tribe who had never heard of Jesus. But as he approached the mountain, a band of angry tribesmen surrounded him with spears pointed straight at his chest. On impulse, the missionary took out the violin he was carrying, closed his eyes, and began playing and singing a hymn in their native language. When Scott finally found the courage to open his eyes, he was amazed to see that his attackers had dropped their spears and that several of them had tears in their eyes. Scott spent the rest of his life preaching and serving the people of that tribe, many of whom became believers. What was the hymn he sang? "All Praise the Power of Jesus' Name!"
Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, tells a more recent story about a homeless heroin addict named Danny Velasco. Though a friend by the name of Wanda had shared the gospel with him, Danny had dismissed it as so much nonsense. After three years on the street he had contracted Hepatitis A, B, and C, and his 108-pound body was covered with sores. Passersby could hear him talking to the swarm of voices that screamed in his head. This is what happened when Danny landed in a hospital in the Bronx, seemingly on his deathbed:
When I woke up, I found myself in a bed, covered in my own vomit. Suddenly all the voices in my head started screaming, creating total chaos within me. I was so disoriented, I wanted to die! But I couldn't jump out a window because they were barred. Then, in the midst of all my pain, something or someone whispered words I had heard before:
The day you call on the Lord, he will set you free. All the other voices tried to drown it out, but they couldn't! I don't know if it was an angel or the Holy Spirit, but the words came through clearly: "The day you call on the Lord, he will set you free." In absolute desperation I screamed from my bed, "Jesus help me! O God, help me with everything! You're my only hope, so please help, Jesus!" I didn't understand anything about prayer, so I even used "personal references" as I cried out: "Jesus, Wanda said that when I called on your name, you would deliver me. So help me now, O God."
At that moment Almighty God swept over me and around me. I knew he was real because all the voices in my head suddenly stopped their hellish screaming and the ball of fear that had been weighing on me lifted. I knew everything had changed even though nothing outwardly had — I was still lying in my vomit in a hospital bed in the Bronx. But I was a million miles from where I had been before I said that prayer.
Eleven years later, Danny is alive and well, a million miles from the hopeless addict he had been before he cried out to Jesus. The demons that plagued him could not withstand the power of the name of Jesus. His story affirms the words of another popular hymn, reminding us that "at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, every tongue confess him, King of glory now!"
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.