This is a question presented by Bryan Chapell in his book Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name. Chapell makes an interesting observation about how humans typically pray.
Of course, actually saying the words “in Jesus’ name” at the beginning of our prayers is not really the point. The point is to first have a deep sense in our hearts what those words are supposed to mean: “I offer this prayer for Jesus sake.” When Jesus’ priorities come first, our prayers will change. They will be less self-oriented, more Christ-directed, more blessed, and ultimately most satisfying to our hearts.
We habitually end our prayers with the phrase “in Jesus’ name, amen.” The amen means “truly” or even “I really mean this.” But what are we actually saying? We are supposed to be saying that everything we prayed for was offered “in Jesus’ name” –for his honor and purposes. When we pray “in Jesus’ name,” we pray for his sake more than our own. We still present our desires and concerns to God, but we do so in the context of yielding our priorities to Christ’s priorities. The final phrase of our prayer reminds us, as well as commits us, to submit all our requests to the glory of Jesus.
Yet that’s not always the way we pray. Often we focus on asking God to ease our worries and satisfy our wants before adding “in Jesus’ name” as an obligatory spiritual seasoning to make our petitions palatable to God. Some of us may even have been taught to use the name of Jesus to “claim the desires of our heart.” Such teaching encourages us to end prayer “in the name of Jesus” to get whatever we want. But Jesus is not like a genie in a bottle whom we can command by invoking his name. When we pray; we should be doing more than looking heavenward, believing with all our might that our wish will come true, and instead of repeating, “Star light, star bright, bring the wish I wish tonight,” saying, “In Jesus’ name, amen.”
…So why wait to the end of a prayer to tag on Jesus’ name? Helpful traditions encourage us to add Jesus’ name before our “amen” so that we do not forget him. But when our routines have desensitized us to his priorities, then it’s time to begin where we end. Praying backwards will inevitably turn our prayer priorities upside down. By saying “in Jesus’ name” first, we will more readily discern when our prayers go astray from his purposes, hijacked by our self-interest.
…..In Jesus’ name, (Not-Amen) Begin…