Rev. Ross Mahan, Pastor
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our loving Savior.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.
- Prayer is God’s gift to His people. Prayer is one of the greatest privileges God has given us. Today is called Rogate Sunday. The word Rogate comes from the Latin word meaning to ask or pray. God gives His people hearts of faith through the new birth. He speaks to us through His Word and by speaking teaches us to speak words to Him. Our text comes from the words of Jesus in the upper room on Maundy Thursday. Jesus was about to die and His disciples needed to learn how to pray. Up until now ye have asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. While Jesus was with them they may have not seen their need to pray. He prayed for them. But now that Jesus was going away they needed to pray. Prayer is often misunderstood. Some people think we become Christians by praying a prayer and inviting Jesus into our hearts to be our Savior. You don’t become a Christian by praying. You can only pray after God has brought you to faith in Christ. Others believe if they say the right words and have the right faith they can name and claim a blessing from God. Prayer becomes personal power. Prayer is man trying to manipulate God. What Jesus said about prayer sounds like we can get anything we want from God by simply asking; and that is what He said. But Jesus was not promising to give us everything our hearts might desire. But He did promise that God the Father was listening to our prayers and we can depend on Him just as the disciples depended on Jesus.
- 2. Why don’t Christians pray? God wants to hear His children talk to Him. We have His undivided attention. Just as parents love to hear the voice of their children God loves to hear our voice. He is the only one who can hear our prayer and answer them. God alone is able to give us what we ask. And He alone provides the deepest needs of the human soul. For this reason Jesus invites us to pray. The redemption of Jesus Christ on the cross gives believing sinners the right to pray to God. We come to our Heavenly Father with confidence, like a child asking his loving Father for the things He needs. Why don’t Christians pray? First they think God isn’t going to listen to their prayers because He really doesn’t care. Christians all through history have had such feelings especially in times of trouble. David wrote: Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble? (Ps. 10:1). How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? forever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?(Ps. 13:1-2). Do not ever think God is not willing to hear your prayers. When you pray in the Name of Jesus God has promised to hear and answer you. If God doesn’t care about you why would He have sent His Son into the world to die for you? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Rom. 8:32).
- 3. God sent His Son to take upon Himself all of the sin and misery of the world. If He did not care about you He would never have sent Christ to deliver you from sin, death and hell. Our Heavenly Father does care about you and your every need. The Prophet Isaiah wrote: Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee (Is. 49:15). Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness (Is. 41:10). The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry (Ps. 34:15). The Lord promises never to forget you! He will strengthen you. He will sustain your life and His ears are always open to your cry, always ready to answer when you call upon Him. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear (Is.; 65:24). Secondly, Christians don’t pray because they don’t believe they are worthy to pray. Ah my friend here is the blessing of our text. You are not praying in your name! You are praying in Jesus’ Name. You have an Advocate with the Father who pleads for you in Heaven. God the Father loves those who love Christ and trust in Him. You are praying to your Heavenly Father in the Name of the One who died to pay the penalty of your sins.
- 4. If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (I Jn. 2:1-2). You are praying in the Name of the One whose blood reconciled you to God (II Cor. 5:19). You are praying in the Name of the One whose sacrifice established peace with God (Rom. 5:1). God has bound Himself to all those who claim the Name of Christ by faith. When we lay claim to Jesus and to His merits, His obedience, His righteousness, His suffering, His intercession, and His love, God has promised to be gracious, always willing to answer our prayers. God has bound Himself to us by Covenant. He has sworn an oath to always be faithful to us. The resurrection of Christ is God’s proclamation that Jesus has atoned for sin once and for all. His resurrection declared that His death for sins was sufficient and now nothing stands between the believer and God. Don’t look to yourselves this morning, look to Christ. Don’t trust in your own works and merits, trust in Him. Believe His promise: Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. When you have Christ as your Savior you have the Father. When you pray in Jesus’ Name you will receive the things God has for you. When God answers your prayers your heart will be filled with joy.
Jesus in Thy cross are centered all the marvels of Thy grace;
Thou, my Savior, once hast entered through Thy blood the holy place;
Thy sacrifice holy there wrought my redemption,
From Satan’s dominion I now have exemption;
Thy way is now free to the Father’s high throne;
Where I may approach Him, in Thy Name alone.
- 5. Thirdly, Christians don’t pray because they don’t see an immediate answer to their prayers. They pray but soon give up. God promises to answer all of our prayers in His own way and time. The attitude of the Christian toward prayer is summed up in the words of our Lord: Not my will, but Thine be done. The will of God is always good, acceptable, and perfect. His will is exactly what we need. Jesus encourages us to be persistent in prayer. Jesus told a story of a man who knocked on the door of his friend’s house in the middle of the night seeking food for some unexpected guests. The man inside the house was in bed and told his friend to come back in the morning, but the man wouldn’t leave and wouldn’t stop asking. So the friend finally got up and gave him what he wanted. Jesus applied this story to our prayers: And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? Don’t give up. Keep on asking for if we ask according to His will He has promised to hear and answer us (I Jn 5:14-15).
- 6. Why should Christians pray? Jesus came to give us the knowledge of the True God. True joy is to know God and to know that He knows us. He knows our every fault and every failure and forgives all of our sins for Christ’s sake. He knows what we want in life and why we want it. He knows every thought, every motivation, and every attitude of our heart. His Spirit gives us new desires. He teaches us to desire what God desires. Because of Christ God removes all of our sins out of the way and gives us the gift of prayer. We have a right to pray because of Christ. In Luther’s Small Catechism in the Lord’s Prayer the Fifth Petition we read: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, Luther asks: What does this mean? We pray in this petition that our Father, in heaven would not look upon our sins, nor on their account deny our prayers; for we are worthy of none of the things for which we pray, neither have we deserved them; but that He would grant them all to us by grace; for we daily sin much and indeed deserve nothing but punishment. The Lord does not chide us for our faults. He does not remind us of our sins. In Jesus Christ we see the face of God’s love and mercy. Whenever you pray God is there, loving you, eager to hear and answer your prayers. When we pray in faith God hears us for: without faith it is impossible to please Him (God) (Heb. 11:6).
- 7. Prayer has God’s command and promise attached to it. When God wants His children to do something important He gives us a command to do it and a promise of blessing when we have obeyed. For example water Baptism has God’s command and promise. The Lord commands sinners to be baptized and then promises to apply the benefits of Christ’s redemption in and through it. God’s has also attached His command and promise to Holy Communion and to our relationship to the local church. The Lord commands believers to gather together around His Word and promises where two or three are gathered together in My Name there am I in the midst of them (Mt. 18:20). Why should Christians pray? First God commands His children to pray. And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint (Lu. 18:1). Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: Pray without ceasing (I Thess 5:17). Prayer is a part of the Law. The Christian loves the Law of God. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (I Jn. 5:3). Our love for Christ gives us new motivation to obey His commandments. If you love me keep my commandments (Jn. 14:15). Prayer is not an option for a Christian. Refusing to take time for prayer is a serious sin. God has given us His Spirit, a Spirit of intercession who intercedes for us and teaches us how to pray (Rom.8:26).
- 8. Wherever a Christian is, there the Holy Spirit is, who does nothing else but pray constantly. Therefore you cannot find a Christian without prayer, just as you cannot find a living man without a pulse. The pulse never stands still; it is always throbbing and beating by itself, even though a man is sleeping or doing something else and, therefore, is not aware of it. (What Luther Says 3487). Why should Christians pray? Second we pray because of God’s promise. God promises to hear and answer all prayers offered by faith in the Name of His Son. Call upon Me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you (Ps. 50:15) Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you (I Pet. 5:7). The Bible is filled with promises about prayer. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (Jn. 14:13). Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jer. 33:3). Third a Christian should pray because of God’s invitation. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:15-16). The Lord invites you to pray during times of trouble, to call upon Him for strength and endurance in times of fear; to ask for help when you feel helpless and weak. But He especially invites you to call upon Him for forgiveness and cleansing of sin. Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Mt. 11:28). The hymn writer has written:
Come ye sinners poor and wretched
Weak and wounded sick and sore
Jesus ready waits to save you,
Full of pity, love, and power;
He is able, He is able,
He is willing doubt no more
Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him;
This He gives you, this He gives you,
‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam;