29. May 2011
John 16:23-30 (31-33); James 1:22-27; Numbers 21:4-9
In our baptism, we are joined to the Father by the Son and so become His children and coheirs with Jesus. God answers our prayers because we are in Jesus Christ. When we plea for mercy, the father answers because of the death of Jesus. We ask the Lord to blot out his transgressions and he does so because of his Son. Wash me, purge me, create in me a clean heart. All this is done in Jesus. Deliver me, build me, strengthen your church – all are done is Jesus. Jesus is the one who reconciles you before the Father.
Jesus himself speaks in figures of speech. Yet, these figures have become razor sharp in the focus of the cross. “In that day you will ask in my Name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”
The Father himself loves you because you love the son. Because you love the son, you receive the benefit of the atoning death of the Son. In the son, the Father calls you His children. He grants to you the same love as the Father for His obedient Jesus.
By the Son we dwell with the Father in love. This fellowship, this communion is the mystical union of Christ and His church. God loved us so much that He gave His only Son over to death that we might all be children with Him.
The freedom from sin, death, and the devil longed for from days of old stands present before the disciples. The Word incarnate, the promise made manifest, stands before the gates of death in that upper room. His flock scatters tomorrow but on Sunday, He will make all things new in his resurrection.
His resurrected flesh came forth from the grave. The resurrected voice of the Word draws all to him. His voice called Mary Magdalene, Peter and John, the Emmaeus disciples, and all the witnesses into His presence.
His Spirit breathes into the ears, dwells in the heart, and rests upon the tongues of His church. His body and blood, ever present for the remission of sins, answers the deep cries of desperate pilgrims. His breath of life makes ready the path of salvation, guiding all believers in the way of peace.
Our Father, we confess who you are and what you have done for your people. We ask all things as you have promised. Grant this for the sake of Jesus Christ, the very paschal lamb, who set us free from bondage to Satan, so we can once again walk with you in Eden.
Jesus intercedes to the Father so that we may have peace.
The saints of old prayed in earnest. Abraham prayed that his servant Abemilech be healed and God answered – healing Abemilech, his wife, and his children.
Isaac prayed for his wife Rebekah, who was barren and God granted her children. Moses prayed for the people who had despised the Lord and His prophet and God’s wrath was stayed.
Hannah prayed at the conception of her son Samuel. David prayed for forgiveness after his adulterous affair. David’s prayers became the principal prayers of the church in the book of Psalms. His son Solomon prayed. Job, Nehemiah,, Jonah, and Hezekiah all prayed. God answered their prayer.
Early in Jesus’ ministry, the disciples asked Him “Lord, teach us how to pray.” (Luke 11:1) These disciples wanted to pray in the spirit, manner, and character of Jesus. They wanted to pray with the intensity and earnestness that Jesus would in the desolate place.
The disciples recognized prayer can be difficult. They wanted the richness of Jesus’ instruction to set their heart on true faith and their minds in rightful practice. In true prayer what we know and believe meets faithful practice. To illustrate, Jesus gives them the model prayer, His own Lord’s Prayer.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray God’s own Word back to him. We ask for everything He has promised. Preserve the earth, the church, and your name among us. Give us this day and every day all we need for our bodies and life. Do not look upon our sins and help us forgive others. Remove from us temptation. Preserve us from all evil. Continue to overcome Satan in our lives and world.
Prayer repeats the truth, makes its demand based on these promises, and gives thanksgiving for the gifts given. True prayer meditates upon the truth. This truth is extra nos, outside us. The truth is from the Word, God’s Word. True prayer is not just any truth of our device. Our prayer is to God, speaking to Him His Word, asking all things in His name.
Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give to you… Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24)
Jesus revolutionizes prayer with the introduction to His prayer. He instructs the disciples to pray to the Father. Not to a nameless god but to God, the Father of all believers.
Before, prophets, priests, and kings prayed for the people, offering intercessions on their behalf. Now the disciples are told to pray as dear children ask their dear father. In former days they prayed as servants of a King. But now, they are told to pray to God as their Father in heaven.
As this prayer is our prayer, we pray to God with all boldness and confidence, trusting that He will provide for His children. We cry out “Abba, Father” and ask for what we need, not doubting but trusting that He will provide according to His good and gracious will.
“Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” (Luke 16:32-33)
When doubt lurks within our sinful heart, the Holy Spirit casts all gloom away by His Word. You have trouble, sorrow, or suffering? What of that! Jesus overcome the world. These troubles are but for a breath and will pass away. Give it to the Lord in prayer.
Jesus has overcome the world. When we battle the evil of this world He is with us. When we doubt He comforts us. When we fear he grants us trust. When we do not know what to pray, His Spirit comes with His Word. (John 17)
The gift of the Word prayed back to the Lord grants us the peace that passes all understanding. It bestows trust, that is, faith in Christ who broke the bonds of sin that hold us. His Spirit works faith that restores us, keeping us in the one true faith. His Spirit works through means of the Word in prayer to rejuvenate our trust in him.
Faith sings of the great and wondrous deeds wrought by our Lord for you. Faith prays to the Father in the name of Jesus that our hearts may not be troubled. Faith prays to God the Father, asking all things, trusting that He will answer our prayer.
We lay all our fear and despair at the feet of the Father. By prayer, His Holy Spirit he casts them out, replacing them with His promises. Faith does not look within for peace. Faith looks to God whose love is limitless and mercy perfect. Faith prays, not doubting, but firmly believing.
The faithful church prays. She sings the faith received. She speaks of the mighty works of her Lord. She bows its head in reverence, calling on the Father on behalf of all who suffer for the faith. Amen.
Jesus intercedes to the Father so that we may have peace.
Let us pray: When we know not what to say And our wounded souls are pleading, may Your Spirit, night and day, Groan within us interceding; By His sighs, too deep for words, We are heard. Jesus, advocate on high, Sacrificed on Calvary’s altar, Through Your priestly blood we cry: Hear our prayers, though they may falter; Place them on Your Father’s throne As Your own. Amen (LSB 773 sts. 2-3)
In Name of the Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit.
Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
Grace Lutheran Church