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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Prayer and joy (John 16:23-24)

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 (John 16:23-24).

Jesus gives to his disciples one example of a source of joy: prayer (vv. 23-24). It is important to note that there are two different words translated ‘ask’ in verse 23. Although they can be used interchangeably, when appearing together it is likely that the first is used in the sense of asking information. Jesus is saying that when the ‘little while’ has ended, they will not be able to ask him for clarification or for more details.

At first glance, this would seem a reason for sadness, not joy. But Jesus also said that when the ‘little while’ was over they would be able to pray to the Father ‘in his name’. To pray in his name does not mean that we append the phrase to our prayers in an unthinking manner. Rather it means that we pray to the Father conscious of the place that has been given to Jesus. We can imagine a rich man telling a pauper to go to the bank and ask for money in the wealthy man’s name. Jesus tells his disciples to pray as paupers coming in the most wealthy name of all.

The common way by which the place given to Jesus has been recognised is through his offices of prophet, priest and king. We can come personally and ask the Father that Jesus would teach us spiritual truths as a prophet, bless us with peace and comfort as a priest, and rule over and defend us as a king.

We can also pray in this manner in an ecclesiastical sense. When we know of a church that needs teaching, the answer is to ask the Father that Jesus will instruct the disciples; when we discover a church that needs peace and comfort, we should ask the Father that Jesus will give these blessings to it; when we become aware of a church that needs protection, we should ask the Father that Jesus would protect it and deliver it.

We can also pray in this way in an evangelistic sense. We can ask the Father that Jesus would teach sinners, that he would reveal to them the blessings of reconciliation and forgiveness, and that he would become Lord of their lives.

We can also pray in this way in a national sense. Our nation needs to be re-educated by Jesus, to receive the blessings of salvation from Jesus, and to know the protection that only Jesus can give.

Praying in this way is a source of joy because it is in line with the Spirit. When we pray in a manner that honours Jesus, the Father will give large answers to our prayers and we will know great joy at his goodness.

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