Praying In Jesus’ Name -- By: John D. Laing

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 09:1 (Spring 2012)
Article: Praying In Jesus’ Name
Author: John D. Laing

Praying In Jesus’ Name

John D. Laing

John D. Laing is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Houston Campus, and serves as a Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) in the Texas Army National Guard.


The title of this article is “praying in Jesus’ name.” It should be noted from the outset that there is a vagueness in this title due to the intense feelings associated with it and to the history of related issues. A paper with this title could address how to pray, could investigate, by means of historical inquiry, the specific cases in which persons, corporations, or municipalities have been sued over prayers in Jesus’ name, or have sought to restrict such prayers; could study the nature of prayer and the biblical meaning of praying “in Jesus’ name”; we could ask the specific question about the appropriateness of secularly-funded chaplains offering sectarian prayers at largely secular events; or could address the topic as symbolic for a larger discussion of religion in the public square. All or most of these issues are valid areas of interest and concern, though in varying degrees, to those engaged in chaplaincy ministry; thus, an attempt will be made to touch on most of them.1

Prayers At Secular Events

It seems that every week there is a report of someone being harassed, censored, or fired for praying in Jesus’ name. Just last week, I received an email which claimed that some Veteran’s Administration hospitals and cemeteries continue to disallow the use of the name “Jesus” in prayer, though a settlement over the issue was eventually reached. It should be noted that much of the recent controversy surrounded prayers at the Veteran’s National Cemetery in Houston, where I live, and that I have conducted internment ceremonies there without incident.2 Still,

the number of complaints by Christians who have claimed their prayers have been restricted in various settings continues to rise and suggests a widespread problem may exist. Perhaps the most well-known person to make such a charge is Gordon Klingenschmitt. He is the former Navy chaplain who has come to be known as “the chaplain who prayed in Jesus’ name,” [that is how he refers to himself, anyway] the suggestion being that he is one of the few who has dared utter the name of Christ in the course of executing his duties as a military chaplain. The suggestion alone is enough to elicit the ire of those chaplains who serve the Lord faithfully without compromise, but Klingenschmitt has taken it further, claimin...

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