World Wide Wolfmueller

Law and Gospel in Joyful Clarity

Before the Father’s Face, A Few thoughts on Prayer

1.5;">Sermon Audio

1.5;">Jesus, in this text from John 16, has been teaching the disciples that He is leaving, but it is today that we begin to consider where He is going. And this is especially fitting for us to consider on the edge of Ascension.

1.5;">But remember, Jesus, in His ascension, does just disappear. He does not just go away. He goes somewhere. He has a destination. He goes to the Father, and sits at the Father’s right hand.

We’ll consider more of what that means on Thursday, but now it is good to consider that Jesus is at the Father’s right hand, and that He brings us there with Him, so that as Jesus speaks to the Father, so do we. This is prayer.

In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

The first thing we ought to consider with prayer is that it is a privilege. It is a great and high honor that the Lord gives us the opportunity to pray.

We think of prayer the opposite of this, at least I’m tempted to. Like it is a privilege that the Lord gets to hear my prayer. (It sounds really bad to say it that way, but it’s right.) Do you know what I’m talking about? We consider our prayers a duty, a chore, something that God expects. Like a child brushing its teeth, they don’t want to, but mom and dad expect it, and if they don’t they’ll get mad, so they go and brush and then come show you their teeth so you will be proud of them. “I said my prayers, God, see…”

Prayer is privilege, it is God giving you an audience, promising to hear you, graciously asking for your council. Remember Esther. She was the king’s wife (one of them), and even she was afraid to go and speak to the king without an invitation. The punishment could be death. Esther told Mordecai, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days” (Esther 4:11).

Think of that! And we might think of this as totally backwards, but imagine showing up in the oval office without an invitation. I suspect the secret service might treat you with the laws of the Medes and the Persians. To stand in front a ruler and make a petition is a privilege. There is nothing that would require God to hear our prayer, nothing that would require Him to listen to us, nothing to require Him to care. Certainly we do not have any wisdom that He needs. We don’t have any grand insights that He lacks. And there is nothing about our unholiness to commend our words to Him.

But still, the Lord invites us to pray; He holds out the golden scepter. He wants us to talk to Him, to ask Him for things, to tell Him what we need and what we desire. I don’t think this makes it any less law. It might condemn us more. We don’t pray when we have do, and now, we don’t pray when we get to. Either way, we are always confessing our breaking the Second Commandment. Do not misuse the Name of the Lord your God. We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks.

Our prayers falter, they are cold and lifeless. In our prayers we see our pride and our despair, and all our idolatries manifest themselves when we go to pray. We think that God ought to hear us, or we are convinced that He doesn’t.

Instead of pray we worry. Instead of asking God for things we fret. And we consider prayer our last resort.

But still we find Jesus urging us and kindly inviting us to prayer. He does this with the promise we heard.

In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Jesus here adds to the promise of prayer. He will hear us and He will answer us. But there is a curious thing Jesus says, “In that day you will ask nothing of me.” We will ask nothing of Jesus, but everything in the name of Jesus.

This does not mean that we do not pray to Jesus, or to the Holy Spirit for that matter. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are each persons of the Godhead, are each God. We worship each of the Persons; we pray to the Father as well as the Son and the Spirit. But this is the point, Jesus will be sitting right there next to the Father. And He, in fact, with carry our prayers to the Father.

Remember the Last Supper, how the disciples were gathered around the table, and Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him. Peter was across the table, but John was right there next to Jesus. So Peter says to John, “Ask Jesus who it is…” And John can lean over and talk to Jesus.

This is how it is now with Jesus and the Father. Jesus is right there, right at the Father’s right hand. He has the Father’s ear. So Jesus brings our prayers to God.

We ask for something. “Lord, give me a bite to eat. Help Alan to feel better. Give faith to Kris.” And the Holy Spirit takes that prayer, dusts off all your selfish motives, and carries that petition to Jesus. Jesus takes those petitions and wraps them with His blood, and gives them to the Father. And now the Father has your prayers, your petitions, perfect, holy, delightful, and He goes about the business of answering them.

“Ask, and you will receive.” That’s a wonderful promise. Now, it might take a while for the Lord to keep His promise. He’s never in the hurry we are, and the bigger rush we are in, the slower the Lord seems to respond, but we pray with faith, trusting His promise.

And then we find, at the end of His promise, something incredibly unexpected. “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” The goal and end of all this asking and praying and promising and the Lord’s answering is your joy. “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

The Father is interested in your joy, and He is interested in it being full. Jesus is, if you can believe these words, interested in your joy, and it being full. He wants your heart to be happy. He wants you to be content, to be happy.

Incredible.

Everything that Jesus is doing, His coming and His going, His dying and His rising, His ascending and sitting at the Father’s right hand, all this is done for you, for your joy, a joy full, full of forgiveness, joy full of life, joy full of salvation, joy full of Jesus.

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Before the Father’s Face, A Few thoughts on Prayer

1.5;">Sermon Audio

1.5;">Jesus, in this text from John 16, has been teaching the disciples that He is leaving, but it is today that we begin to consider where He is going. And this is especially fitting for us to consider on the edge of Ascension.

1.5;">But remember, Jesus, in His ascension, does just disappear. He does not just go away. He goes somewhere. He has a destination. He goes to the Father, and sits at the Father’s right hand.

We’ll consider more of what that means on Thursday, but now it is good to consider that Jesus is at the Father’s right hand, and that He brings us there with Him, so that as Jesus speaks to the Father, so do we. This is prayer.

In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

The first thing we ought to consider with prayer is that it is a privilege. It is a great and high honor that the Lord gives us the opportunity to pray.

We think of prayer the opposite of this, at least I’m tempted to. Like it is a privilege that the Lord gets to hear my prayer. (It sounds really bad to say it that way, but it’s right.) Do you know what I’m talking about? We consider our prayers a duty, a chore, something that God expects. Like a child brushing its teeth, they don’t want to, but mom and dad expect it, and if they don’t they’ll get mad, so they go and brush and then come show you their teeth so you will be proud of them. “I said my prayers, God, see…”

Prayer is privilege, it is God giving you an audience, promising to hear you, graciously asking for your council. Remember Esther. She was the king’s wife (one of them), and even she was afraid to go and speak to the king without an invitation. The punishment could be death. Esther told Mordecai, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days” (Esther 4:11).

Think of that! And we might think of this as totally backwards, but imagine showing up in the oval office without an invitation. I suspect the secret service might treat you with the laws of the Medes and the Persians. To stand in front a ruler and make a petition is a privilege. There is nothing that would require God to hear our prayer, nothing that would require Him to listen to us, nothing to require Him to care. Certainly we do not have any wisdom that He needs. We don’t have any grand insights that He lacks. And there is nothing about our unholiness to commend our words to Him.

But still, the Lord invites us to pray; He holds out the golden scepter. He wants us to talk to Him, to ask Him for things, to tell Him what we need and what we desire. I don’t think this makes it any less law. It might condemn us more. We don’t pray when we have do, and now, we don’t pray when we get to. Either way, we are always confessing our breaking the Second Commandment. Do not misuse the Name of the Lord your God. We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks.

Our prayers falter, they are cold and lifeless. In our prayers we see our pride and our despair, and all our idolatries manifest themselves when we go to pray. We think that God ought to hear us, or we are convinced that He doesn’t.

Instead of pray we worry. Instead of asking God for things we fret. And we consider prayer our last resort.

But still we find Jesus urging us and kindly inviting us to prayer. He does this with the promise we heard.

In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Jesus here adds to the promise of prayer. He will hear us and He will answer us. But there is a curious thing Jesus says, “In that day you will ask nothing of me.” We will ask nothing of Jesus, but everything in the name of Jesus.

This does not mean that we do not pray to Jesus, or to the Holy Spirit for that matter. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are each persons of the Godhead, are each God. We worship each of the Persons; we pray to the Father as well as the Son and the Spirit. But this is the point, Jesus will be sitting right there next to the Father. And He, in fact, with carry our prayers to the Father.

Remember the Last Supper, how the disciples were gathered around the table, and Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him. Peter was across the table, but John was right there next to Jesus. So Peter says to John, “Ask Jesus who it is…” And John can lean over and talk to Jesus.

This is how it is now with Jesus and the Father. Jesus is right there, right at the Father’s right hand. He has the Father’s ear. So Jesus brings our prayers to God.

We ask for something. “Lord, give me a bite to eat. Help Alan to feel better. Give faith to Kris.” And the Holy Spirit takes that prayer, dusts off all your selfish motives, and carries that petition to Jesus. Jesus takes those petitions and wraps them with His blood, and gives them to the Father. And now the Father has your prayers, your petitions, perfect, holy, delightful, and He goes about the business of answering them.

“Ask, and you will receive.” That’s a wonderful promise. Now, it might take a while for the Lord to keep His promise. He’s never in the hurry we are, and the bigger rush we are in, the slower the Lord seems to respond, but we pray with faith, trusting His promise.

And then we find, at the end of His promise, something incredibly unexpected. “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” The goal and end of all this asking and praying and promising and the Lord’s answering is your joy. “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

The Father is interested in your joy, and He is interested in it being full. Jesus is, if you can believe these words, interested in your joy, and it being full. He wants your heart to be happy. He wants you to be content, to be happy.

Incredible.

Everything that Jesus is doing, His coming and His going, His dying and His rising, His ascending and sitting at the Father’s right hand, all this is done for you, for your joy, a joy full, full of forgiveness, joy full of life, joy full of salvation, joy full of Jesus.

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