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Asking and Receiving

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Jn. 14:13, 14

Asking and Receiving

What is wrong with the world today?

In the first century, the Romans were marching through the streets of Judea, waving their pagan banners. They were involuntarily conscripting Jewish young men into their armies, taking Jewish daughters into wealthy Roman homes to serve as servants and cooks, taking the best of the crops of Judea and laying a burden of heavy taxes.  Jesus never said the problem of first century life was the Romans. He never said that the problem of first century life in Judea was the amoral people ruining the culture. He continually said the problem was that the people of God have failed to act like the people of God. The salt had lost its saltiness.

Many of us sincerely believe that the problem with the world today is those immoral people out there, or those folks who don’t share our political views or those folks who are ruining our schools rather than that the people of God are not acting like the people of God. We are not living up to the potential of the people of God.

Jesus challenges His disciples to reach their potential;

It is a subtle challenge and a modest proposal to change the world. In John 14:12, He gets back to His main line of teaching- “greater works”.  He introduces them to a ...

1. new ministry of prayer (today) 2. and the person of the Holy spirit (weeks to come)

(read John 14: 13, 14)

ill.)  One of the war strategies used by Generals as they gather an overview of the battlefield is to find that place or few places that stands out as most strategic for the winning of this battle, and then channel efforts to take and hold that outpost.

          On the battlefield of Waterloo there was a farmhouse that General Wellington saw as such a strategic point.  It was the key to defeating Napoleon in the battle.  So he did not spare the troops in taking the farmhouse: the victory depended on it.

          I believe that the battle of life is won or lost in this area that we speak of this morning.

          If you successfully maintain a life of prayer you win the war.

          We approach a promise like 14:13, 14 in one of three ways.

  1. This promise doesn't seem true to life, something is wrong with this promise (or even the Maker of the promise).

Faith goes dormant and we are not drawn to pursue God in prayer. Life is not like this.

2.  This promise doesn't fit my experience, something is wrong with my understanding of this promise. It must not mean what it seems to mean.

These two ideas reflect a mentality that is not open to change or growth.

It comes from a person who has developed a "street theology" based on experience  (not Scriptures).  If it is not true in my experience then it is not true.

ex. “I prayed as best I know how, in God's will, nothing happened.  Therefore, I doubt the validity of this promise ( and all others like it).

to be honest as Christians

  1. dispensationalize – This promise was for the original apostles, not for us.

      ·exclusivist view:

Promises should not be indiscriminately applied to Christians as a whole- they are given to the eleven. Some phrases do underscore the historical moment in its context.

John 14:25- I have spoken while abiding with you

John 15:27 ...you have been with me from the beginning

John 16:4- I did not say these at the beginning, because I was with you.

·Non-exclusivist view:

other believers involved also

in contrast cf- John 13:34, 35- I John 2:7ff- 3: 11, 14- 4:20

ill.) communion is understood for all

          Conclusion – These prayer promises, as glorious as they are, are for all believers.

b. dilute – Make them out of reach - Christ’s thoughts had something to do with us being perfect which we never are , so in essence, this promise is of no practical value.

     3. This promise doesn't fit my life’s experience, something is wrong with my life.

-mentality that is open to change

"My life doesn't reflect this promise, I must change my life."

          Unless we make conscious effort this morning, most of us will approach this promise the first or second way.  We are not open to genuine change because change is hard. “Change us Lord.”

          Jesus calls His disciples to a life of prayer.  He is bringing us back to learn to live a "life of prayer." It is systemic to who we are. It is not an add on activity. (spiritual, living church)      

-Jerry Falwell -"Nothing of eternal, spiritual significance happens apart from fervent prayer."

-Edith Schaefer- "If we stop praying now, our whole world stops.  It has been built on prayer."

-Warren Burns- "I'm convinced that the most important thing we can do in the ministry is pray."

The battle is won or lost here.  The more serious I am about this the more conscious I am of spiritual battle.  It is challenging.  It takes a life, not attendance at certain activities.  It is more about the heart than it is about the tongue. More about who you are, not what you say.

          Tozer said, “We can preach, study, teach, witness and Satan will leave us alone.  But when we begin to pray, Satan trembles and resists.”

Three things we need to know in order to pray successfully:

I.  We need to know who we are dealing with.

Take a step back in history.  To whom did O.T. saints pray? - God was awesome and far-off.

Isa. 65:2 "O thou who dost hear prayer"

Did Jesus intercede on behalf of O.T. saints? Ans. not to our knowledge  -if He did, it was unknown to them.

But...imagine the impact of having an intimate, personal friend in heaven.          Yesterday Jesus was here eating, sleeping, raising Lazarus from the dead.

Now He is seated at the right of Father to ask on our behalf - if we ask Him.

John repeats for emphasis; changing it slightly to a promise

v.14) " I myself”

ill.) not like walking into a room full of strangers;  sheepishly looking for a friendly face

Heb. 4:16 "Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace.”

(paraphrase) human priests deal gently in an understanding way because they too are vulnerable to weaknesses

"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin"

This would change everything.  This would become our great privilege.

“…an entirely new ground and manner of prayer was introduced in the Upper Room.” –L.S. Chafer  our greatest privilege by which we will do “greater works”.

John 16:23, 24 – These men were religious. They'd prayed a lot. But, after the resurrection they would have the opportunity to pray “In Jesus' Name.” They had not done that.

In the upper room, seven times Christ exhorted his disciples to an effective prayer life.  John 14:13, 14; John 15:7, 16; John 16:23, 24, 26- all relate effectiveness to praying in His name.  Only John 15:7 is an exception.

II.  We need to know why God wants us to pray.

several reasons:

1. (v. 13, 14) God moves the world through prayer.

v. 13 “...that will I do...” 14  “if... I will do it.”  implication - if you don't, I won’t

We honestly struggle with this.

          We believe that God can do and does do as He pleases.  We recognize His sovereignty. 

But, that's not the complete story.  We must understand that that does not mean that everything that happens in this world is God's will.  (Theologians distinguish between His decreed will and permissive will). Some things happen that God does not want to happen. Remember Jesus raging against death at the grave of Lazarus.  He raged against death, revealing to us that the heart of God was not accepting of that death. He did not desire it.

God's will is always done in heaven but not on earth. That's the only way that the petition in the Lord's prayer can make sense, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

          If we believe that God’s will is always done(fatalistically), this petition would be a meaningless statement.

ex.  a child dies by accident or disease and we quickly console, "That must have been God's will."

          This tends toward fatalism, not biblical Christianity.  If we look at life fatalistically, it will suck the energy of the burden of prayer out of your life.  God wants us to be engaged in resisting evil and sin as painful as it may be.  

Recent challenge – “If you do not believe that life is spiritual battle, you will not pray.”

-It is God’s will that unrepentant sinners go to hell, yet Jesus died to provide salvation to keep them from going there?  We are to pray for their salvation.  When we do, God moves.

          In this regard, Jesus promised that as we walk in the Spirit, the H.S. authors our thoughts and prayers, bringing our desires into conformity with God's desires; and the Father moves in response to our prayers. He moves the world.

summary - We are to pray because it is in response to our prayers that God has chosen to accomplish His will.

2.  God is glorified through prayer

glory of God is manifest

14:13 “that the Father may be glorified in the Son”

Chief aim of the church is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. – Westminister shorter catechism

We are told specifically that God is glorified as we pray in Jesus’ name.

3.  Much fruit is born through prayer.

Also Jn. 15:8 “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit.”

abide...ask… result is much fruit

          conventional wisdom says, “Much fruit is born by having a sharp building, good location, excellent music program, emphasis on giving and evangelism and you will be fruitful.”

That thought is very man-centered and lacks the wisdom of heaven.  Our idea of fruitfulness tends to be cut off from our Source.

Abide and ask and you will bear much fruit.

This is prayer “in Jesus' Name” (prayer based on a new relationship- post Pent.)

- in O.T. the closest to in His Name was for His Name's Sake- Psalm 25:11, 31:1

“asking on Christ's merits

consistent with Christ's character

in a spirit of obedience to Him”

4) Joy is the experience of those who ask

16:24 “ask and you will receive that your joy may be made full.”

more than just a warm feeling about your relationship to God

The joy of the Lord is our strength.

Abiding asking receiving = "protection of joy"

Ill. On the plane in Chicago with a gal who had just buried her 92 year old grandfather…

          Pray concerning Home Fair weekend

III.  "How are we to keep asking (praying)?"

ill. who hasn't tried and failed (often) Set out with the greatest intentions(guilt trip)  & last a while but fail.  How?

If...nothing of eternal value happens apart from prayer, and prayer is the most important thing we can do in the ministry (elder duty)

-God is glorified  -fruit is borne  -joy accompanies

…then you'd agree that "How to ask" is the most important question yet!

Key to a genuine prayer life is recognizing that it is not a pulling yourself up by the bootstraps.

Genuine prayer is the natural product of a life lived in living union with God.  Living in Jesus’ name. 

          To one who...

-lives in Spirit; also walks in Spirit

-Abides in Him -Abides in Word, Word abides in Him

-filled with Spirit - cry "Abba, Father"  -lives in His name, Jesus says "Ask" - the father is glorified by your desires!!!

How are we to continue asking as we know we should?

ans.  Go hard after God; give it everything you have. Pull yourself away from other activities.

Expend your time and energy in pursuit of God and then prayer will be as natural as breathing.

-You won't have to "work on your prayer life”.  Your life will “simply” be a life of prayer.

Concl. - With this type of life, the Father is glorified and we are rewarded with joy.

Prayer -How is it with you and God this morning?

          If you are having trouble with your prayer life, you should talk to God about it.

Can you say? "Nothing between my soul and the Savior:

Are you going hard after God?

Unless you are, our world as church stops!  There can be no genuine fruit or joy.

Greater works could be accomplished by praying in His name- John 14:12, 13

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