May 1, 2016 – John 16:23-33 – “Than You May Have Peace”

That You May Have Peace

 

In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

Something New

 

This week we are going to do something new at Gloria Dei. At least in my memory it is something new. We are going to have a prayer vigil; a specific, designated time when our doors will be open to you and to the public to come and pray.   We are doing this on Thursday, the day designated by our government as the National Day of Prayer.

 

On Thursday from 11 am to 1 pm and then again from 5 pm to 6 pm the sanctuary will be open for anyone who wants to come and pray in this space. You could come for 5 minutes or 15 or 30 or for whatever time you want to be here.

 

We will provide a list of suggested topics for which you could pray in addition to your own thoughts. We will provide a number of prayers for you to use, but your own words will certainly be heard by our Lord.

 

If you want more words to use, open the hymnal and pray the psalms, prayers of God’s people as they looked forward to the coming of the Messiah. The psalms are not outdated prayers. We too are looking forward to the coming of the Messiah when he returns as he promised to judge the living and the dead.

 

More prayers are in the hymnal starting on page 305; prayers for us as we walk as baptized children of God, prayers for the church, prayers for those in need, prayers in time of joy, prayers of thanksgiving. Unlike many prayers that will be said on Thursday our prayers will be prayed, ”in the name of Jesus”.

 

Not New

 

I say that this is something new, but I am speaking only of the vigil part. Prayer for the Christian is not something new. Prayer is part of who we are as redeemed children of the heavenly Father. It is a gift given to us when we were born again by the water of Holy Baptism when the Holy Spirit gave us faith to believe in Jesus Christ.

 

This gift is for us to use whenever and wherever. Our good and gracious God has not restricted his hearing of our prayers to one day a year, to one day a week or to once a day.

 

Jesus Teaches Prayer

 

As we consider what we might say to God on Thursday, the gospel reading for today has Jesus speaking to us about prayer. It was the night on which he would be betrayed. Jesus was not preoccupied with what would happen to him. He was focused on his disciples, both then and now.

 

Jesus would soon leave them for a little while. He would suffer and die offering himself as the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Then he would leave them again, this time to prepare a place for them and for us with his heavenly Father.

 

Knowing this, Jesus wanted them to know about prayer. They had prayed all their lives, but now there was something new about prayer. They were to pray to the heavenly Father in his name. This was not really new because the Father had always heard prayers for the sake of his Son who was promised to come to redeem his people.

 

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. . . . Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” It sounds like promise to hear and answer prayer with no restrictions, like we are given a blank check to fill in with whatever we want. It sounds like a simple formula: add the words “in the name of Jesus” and we will receive everything for which we ask.

 

A Figure of Speech

 

We need to continue reading, however, to learn what it means to pray “in the name of Jesus.” Jesus said, “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father.”

 

Jesus was telling his disciples that they would not know what it means to ask “in my name” until they had witnessed and understood his hour that was about to come. They would not know what it means that the Father will give them “whatever they ask for” until the hour of Jesus had been fulfilled..

 

Jesus was talking about the hour, the time of his suffering and death. Until they saw the love of the heavenly Father in sacrificing his Son they would not know what it means to pray “in the name of Jesus.”

 

Whatever we ask in his name means whatever we ask in accord with his mercy. Jesus went to the cross to show us God’s mercy, his desire that all repent and believe in his Son who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven.

 

The suffering and death of Jesus takes away the wrath of God so that we have no fear of going to the heavenly Father in prayer. In fact, because Jesus shed his blood for us we know that the heavenly Father wants us to ask for the things that we need. The hour of Jesus laying down his life for us show us the love of God for us his precious children.

 

Ask In My Name

 

To help us understand the words of Jesus and to help us pray according to God’s will consider a large treasure chest and written on the outside of the chest are the letters J-E-S-U-S.  Everything inside of the chest is there because Jesus sacrificed his life for us.

 

The Father promises you anything and everything that he has put into that chest.  It’s yours.  After all, Jesus said:  “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give it to you.””

The big question is:  what’s in the treasure chest, what’s in the name of Jesus? How about this for starters:  “In the name of Jesus you will find a Father’s love for you. You will find overflowing joy, peace of heart and mind, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life. In the treasure chest you will find the Word and Sacraments that tell you of the depth of God’s love for you.

 

Oh, and if that is not enough, “in the name of Jesus” you will find all that you NEED to support your time here in this life. If you NEED a new bike or a NEED a different job it’s there in that treasure chest.

 

If your heavenly Father who loves you knows that you need new shoes rather than a new bike and that your current job is best for you then these things will be in his treasure chest for you.

 

It’s all there for you “in the name of Jesus.”  You have only to ask the Father, and he’ll open the treasure chest and give you the gifts stored up for you. The treasure chest “in the name of Jesus” is stuffed full of goodies for everyone who loves Jesus and who believes that He is the one sent from God to be the Savior the world.

 

Our heavenly Father himself invites us, urges us, commands us to come and ask for any and every blessing that his Son won for us. The Father himself loves us and wants us to have all the blessings that give us peace and joy..  He sent His Son for no other reason than that we might be given those priceless gifts that he has selected for us.

 

When we pray “in the name of Jesus,” we should not be content with the things of this passing world, but we should pray for the things that will make our joy complete in this world and the next.

 

 

Praying

 

Jesus wants you to know that praying in his name is prayer that conforms to his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. We pray that God’s will be done. We pray that way because we know that God’s will is to bless us. His will is that we are his beloved children. We know his will because we know the story, the story of Jesus.

 

Jesus teaches us to pray trusting that for his sake the Father has promised to not only hear our prayers but to answer our prayers. There is nothing too trivial or too big for which to pray. Our Father who art in heaven is not looking for us to mess up with our prayers, he is waiting for his dear children to come to him trusting in him.

 

He wants you to pray to him because you know not to trust in yourself. Our Father wants you to know that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ has broken down all barriers between you and him. Your sins are forgiven, you have the promise of a new life, a life in Christ.

 

He wants you to pray to him trusting in his love for you, love that you know about because you have seen the Son who for you laid down his life. Jesus has overcome all things for you so that in him you have peace and joy.

 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

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