Monday, October 17, 2016

The Ministry of Prayer (John 16:16-33)

Jesus closes out this last minute teaching by preparing his disciples for the panic that will come later that very day. From our perspective these verses look too simple. Are we missing something deeper? No, Jesus is simply telling his disciples that He is about to die and will later rise from the dead. We live in the “that day” that Jesus is talking about here.

In these days, we no longer ask Jesus for anything. We come directly to the Father in Jesus’ position. We approach God “in Jesus’ name.” Contrary to the “magic formula” nature of a lot of prayer in America, praying in Jesus name is not a formulaic “send-off” that renders a prayer powerful. It is more like we have a power of attorney. When we approach God in a way and with motives like Jesus would—when we are in line with God’s wishes—we get what we ask for.

John refers to this idea multiple times in recording this last minute teaching:

The “In My Name” Passages

"Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it." -14:13,14

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name…" -14:26

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you... You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you." -15:7, 16

"…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… In that day you will ask in my name…" -16:23, 24, 26

These passages all talk about us (or the Holy Spirit in 14:26) acting in Jesus stead, fulfilling his will. Just as some powers of attorney spell out the manner in which the power can be exercised, God’s Word tells us what God’s will is, and it is our guide in trying to act “in Jesus name.”

In this teaching, Jesus explains where the power of prayer resides. Prayer itself is not powerful. The power of prayer lies with God. It is He who acts, and at most our relationship with Him is what gets us close to the power. God loves his Son, and through Him He loves us as well. People like to say, “There is power in prayer.” But the truth is that the power is God’s and we do not wield it. But the access we have to God is a wonderful thing! We ought never to think to highly of something like being able to talk to God, but we also ought never to take such a privilege for granted. For more than anything else, prayer gives us joy.

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