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Hello! Is it OK that I do the sign of the cross before and after I pray? Also, may I ask why do we say, "In your Son's name" or "In Jesus' name," etc.? Thanks!
Martin Luther would be happy with your practice of the sign of the cross. In his Small Catechism (in the Concordia Triglotta) he included this preface to the Morning Prayer: “In the morning, when you rise, you shall bless yourself with the holy cross and say: In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen. Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. If you choose, you may, in addition, say this little prayer” [which we know as Luther’s Morning Prayer].
Similar wording precedes his Evening Prayer: “In the evening, when you go to bed, you shall bless yourself with the holy cross and say: In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen. Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. If you choose, you may, in addition, say this little prayer” [which we know as Luther’s Evening Prayer].
Making the sign of the cross—in the morning, in the evening, before and after prayers—is purely optional for Christians. God does not command nor forbid it. (We call that an adiaphoron). If that practice is beneficial for you in that it reminds you that you are a redeemed child of God, maintain it. Of course, ask yourself the reason why you have that practice.
As far as praying “in Jesus’ name,” we use those words in our prayers, or we pray with that attitude without using those specific words, because we recognize that it is only through Jesus that we can approach our God in prayer (John 1:12; 14:6; 16:23; Galatians 3:26-27; Ephesians 3:12).
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