When It Doesn’t Work To Say “In Jesus’ Name”

Did you ever see a great manifestation of God’s power or authority in Christ, and then try to imitate what you saw but end up disappointed with the results? Or have you read scriptural promises and tried to act on them, but it seemed like they “didn’t work?” Why?

Promises For Those Who Ask In Jesus’ Name


Scripture has incredible promises for those who ask in Jesus’ name:

John 14:12-14 (NIV) Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

John 16:23-24 (NIV) In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

1 John 5:14-15 (NIV) This is the confidence we have in approaching God: 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 what we asked of him.

I think that Christians often read these promises and try to hold on to them, but when it seems like it “didn’t work,” unbelief settles in our hearts.  Of course, we continue to mentally acknowledge that scripture is true. But we don’t act like it is. And when we read such incredible passages of scripture our hearts are hardened to them because they make us feel pain. They remind us of disappointment.

What if these promises really are true, but there’s something we aren’t understanding? What if these scriptures can actually become our experience?

When It Doesn’t Work To Just Say “In Jesus’ Name”


Lately I’ve been referring a lot to the story of the seven sons of Sceva. This passage gives us some insight into what it really means to pray in Jesus’ name. It hints that praying in Jesus’ name is more than just saying “In Jesus’ Name.” Let’s look at this story again:

Acts 19:11-20 (ESV) And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled.

These seven brothers invoked Jesus’ name, but it didn’t work. Paul didn’t necessarily speak Jesus’ name in every case, but he identified strongly and personally with Christ. And even things that had touched his skin drove out demons and diseases. He was speaking and acting in Jesus’ name. What a difference!

Years ago, a friend told me that when he was involved in witchcraft they sometimes used Jesus’ name to expel demons. Since then I’ve read about exorcism practices in other religions. I learned that several religions use Jesus’ name in their exorcism practices. And it seems like they sometimes have limited or apparent success when they do so.

The seven sons of Sceva may have had some limited success with using Jesus name. When it says they “were doing this,” it makes me think they may have been doing it for some time before this particular story. And if they kept doing it, it was probably because it seemed to be helping. But obviously, they soon found out that it wasn’t enough to use Jesus’ name like a magic word without personally identifying with Jesus.

I don’t think saying “In Jesus’ name” is a bad thing. But this must be more than a ritualistic incantation. We must know what it means and mean what we’re saying! Next week we’ll look more at what it means to pray “in Jesus’ name” by identifying with Jesus.


If you liked this post, you may want to check out the Heaven Now book trilogy. It contains many insights into understanding simple gospel truths and exercising heaven’s dominion on earth. It’s also filled with testimonies of what happened when I put these truths into practice. I’m sure these books will encourage you and help you learn to walk as a heavenly person. Not only that, but your purchase supports our missionary work in Brazil and in every other place we go!

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3 comments on “When It Doesn’t Work To Say “In Jesus’ Name”
  1. Eric says:

    I enjoy reading these posts. They are edifying and encouraging. An the Spirit of Jesus brings so many scriptures to mind as I read.

    Colossians 1:21-29 “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation[g] under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. 24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

    I was only going to write Christ in us the hope of Glory… but it was all too good not to. I love it I have heard those who proclaim that 1 Corinthians 15 is the gospel in its entirety that Paul proclaimed and limited it to that and then preach a perversion of grace that we are sinners and God just overlooks our sin. However, Paul says multiple times to make them obedient to the gospel which results in Christ in us the hope of glory and continues if we ‘continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that we heard’ which is transformation of the old man to the new by continuing faith of and in Christ Jesus to become holy, blameless, above reproach before Him, becoming mature / perfected in Christ. He is in us and we are in Him. Putting to death the flesh (carnal man) and living to the Spirit (new man). “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” Romans 13:14 Rejecting and not being transformed or renewed by the Word and Spirit – is taking the Name Of God in vain – to no effect. Paul admonishes in writing to Timothy let those who name the name of Christ depart from iniquity. Galatians 5 those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its lusts and passions.

    I can’t get enough of God’s Word it shows more and more that the flesh can only produce the works of the flesh (dead works) Galatians 5 and only the Spirit can produce the fruit. Holy Spirit work Christ into us who are born again forming Christ in us who you are adding to His body, to work Christ out into the world manifesting you Holy Spirit the Light shining out in the darkness. Unite us in the faith and knowledge of Christ putting the flesh to death and walking with you.

    • Eric says:

      One thing recently that I believe the Jesus has opened my understanding to that has helped me immensely is to realize that the Law given through Moses was/ is a covenant with the flesh with the goal of revealing that the flesh born of the Fall is spiritless there is no power in it to please and be justified before God Genesis 5 the LORD says that He will not strive with man forever as he is flesh. But men apart from God cannot easily see that they are spiritually dead and that we have access to the Father by only one Spirit. Hence Jesus coming to save that which was lost the Spirit in us and the need to be born again. John 3, that which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. The two chapters that woke me from religion to becoming born again are Psalm 50 (who are you who take my covenant in your mouth and cast my instruction behind your back?) and Romans 8 (he who has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His) ‘believing’ without being born again of the Spirit is not believing. And continuing in this faith is a narrow road and if we seek to keep the Law we are operating in the flesh and Christ become of no effect to us (Galatians) and if we go the other side of the road into license in it’s most subtle form of a perverted grace perspective of that we are only sinners and God by grace overlooks sin and sees only Christ without us actually being transformed. The days of God overlooking sin are over now that Christ has come. Read Paul’s sermon in Acts 17 at the Areopagus, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

      He provided the WAY, Christ. Jesus said as written in John 12:44-50, “And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” He calls us out of the darkness and gives us light and tells us to shine in the darkness. This cannot be if ‘we are sinners saved by grace’ He calls us out of the darkness to be transformed into the image of His Son Jesus in whom there was / is no sin no guile, who did not answer back when he was wronged but committed everything to Him who judges righteously. Father for grace to be like Jesus.

  2. mdemetrius says:

    Saying the phrase, “In Jesus’ Name” and actually acting in and speaking in His authority are not the same thing. The seven Scevans is a perfect example of this. Another not so popular is the millions of prayers in America, anyway, that end, “in Jesus’ name”, even when we start the prayer in praying to Jesus Himself. We have made these three words some kind of magic incantation to validate prayers that are often nothing like what He would pray, in the hope that we get what are sometimes very unbiblical results to happen.