Text: John 16:23-33
When we face challenges, our temptation is to either accept some form of fatalism (“Lord, whatever happens, happens”) or some kind of desparationism (“I can’t believe this is happening! Why didn’t you choose to do this with someone else, God. Am I deserving of this trial?”)
In the Upper Room Discourse in John 16, Jesus says that there will come a time when he will no longer be with the disciples. How would they live in the absence of their Master? When your source of hope is gone what do you do? How do you maintain this life of communion when your Lord and Master is gone? And what our Lord teaches is that your present pain does not define who you will be. Pain is not the final period in your story it is only a comma. What is the turning point then in the prayer life of the disciples?
The disciples—as we have seen—have already asked Jesus many questions. Jesus, when is this going to happen, and when is this going to happen?” Does that sound like us at times? “Lord, just give me a sequence of events in my life?” It’s very instructive that in the four Gospels the disciples ask dozens of questions, but after the resurrection, in the Book of Acts, the apostles seldom asked any questions. Why do you think? Primarily because they were under the guidance of the Spirit of God. And they were living a life of communion with one another.
But before the resurrection, they were filled with uncertainty. Do you ever feel uncertain? Take heart. The disciples felt that way often. Jesus is saying that in the period of resurrection the night of darkness and doubt will become the morning of deliverance and hope. Before the resurrection, we asked in doubt, after the resurrection we ask with certainty.
Do you realize that before the resurrection no one prayed in Jesus’ name? “Jesus’ name is not a mantra or a magical formula, but a historical and theological reality! Have you ever wondered why we pray in the name of Jesus? It’s because His name is now above every name and His name is able to intercede and speak on our behalf. We can only pray in Jesus’ name because he is no longer dead.
Here’s our lesson: Ask boldly.
So, how do we pray? We all bring personalities into our prayer life: some are more passionate, some are more meditative, some are more introspective, some are more formal, some less formal. God hears them all. But here is the theme of post-resurrection prayer: It’s the kingdom of God. If you were to dissect the model prayer of Jesus, you would see that point: “Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” If we are to find delight in praying post-resurrectly, then our prayers are to correspond with the priorities of the Kingdom. In other words, our prayers are better grounded when they fall under the mission of God for the world. Sometimes what we are asking in Jesus’ name is really asking in our own name. God will still answer you, but are we missing on a richer answer to our prayer? I believe the answer is yes. God will always answer is, but the question is, “Will he answer us in richly or will he answer from the crumbs of heaven’s table? Now: Heaven’s table is rich and even the crumbs are delicious but are we missing better things from our prayer life because of our lack of boldness, lack of communion, lack of proper priorities? This is a question you and I need to consider today.
What we need is not a casual prayer life, but a fiery one that calls the kingdom of God to crush our enemies and answer our needs. What are we asking? And when we ask are we asking in a pre-resurrection manner? Fatalistically, desperately, weakly, cowardly, hopelessly? When the tomb was silent, we did not pray in Jesus’ name, but when the voice of victory rolled the stone away, we pray in the name of Jesus to whom the kingdom, and the power, and the glory belong.