Rogate Sunday Sermon
ďPraying to the Father in Jesusí NameĒ
May 1, 2005
Prayer is one of the greatest
privileges we Christians have. Godís
word and the prayers of Christians combine to keep and sustain the Holy
Christian Church on earth. God
speaks to us and by speaking He elicits faith in our hearts.
He reaches inside of us and takes out our unbelieving heart of
stone, replacing it with a believing heart of flesh.
Then, and only then, do we speak words to God.
He receives and hears our words with a fatherly attentiveness
that is keener than the attention we receive from anyone else.
Our Father in heaven does not sleep.
He is not distracted. He
doesnít forget what we ask of Him and He never ignores us when we pray
to Him. The privilege of
prayer is one of the greatest privileges we Christians enjoy in this
What Godís word teaches us
about prayer is clear and comforting, but prayer is often misunderstood.
Some people think that we become Christians by praying a prayer
in which we invite the Lord Jesus into our hearts to become our Lord and
Savior. But we donít
become Christians by praying a prayer.
We can pray only after God has brought us to faith in Christ.
Others believe that if we learn the right formula for prayer we
can name and claim specific blessings with which we want God to bless
us. Prayer becomes a means
of manipulating Godís will, amending the Lordís Prayer from saying
ďThy will be doneĒ to say ďMy will be done.Ē
But most tragically, many Christians sinfully neglect prayer as
if Jesusí promises mean nothing, as if God doesnít even want to hear
His children talk to Him.
Iíve learned something about
my college and seminary sons. Their
schedules donít correspond to mine.
While Iím often busy on a Saturday, they are finally finding
some time to relax and call home. So
when I need to finish a sermon, do a bulletin, or in some other way get
ready for Sunday, the boys want call to talk to their dad.
And how I love to hear their voices!
What a joy to listen to them talk to me about whatís on their
minds! The happiness of my
children is more precious to me than all the money in the world.
If I love to hear my children
call, how much more does our Father in heaven love to hear His children
call on Him, day or night, and to ask for whatever it is they need from
Him. Jesus said, ďMost
assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will
Jesus invites us to pray to God. Since we, through Jesus, have Godís undivided attention,
there is no reason to pray to anyone but God.
No one but God can hear our prayers.
No one but God can give us those things for which we pray.
So we pray only to God and we always pray by Jesusí invitation.
Since we have Jesusí
invitation to pray, we can pray. While
Jesus most certainly prays for us, He also invites us to pray.
Jesus is the One who obtains all good things from God for you. He is the One who gives you the right to pray.
Jesus does more than to pray for you, interceding with the Father
on your behalf. He gives
you the right to pray to God with the full confidence of a child who is
praying to a loving Father.
You must never think that God
wonít listen to your prayer. When
you pray in Jesusí name you know that He most certainly will listen to
your prayer. Why would you
think He wouldnít? Because
He doesnít care what you need? If
He didnít care what you needed in life then why would He have sent His
Son to you from heaven to come into this world of sin and to take upon
Himself all of the sin and misery and pain of the entire human race?
If He didnít care about your needs He wouldnít have given His
most precious treasure to meet your most pressing need of all, the need
of deliverance from your own sin and from the devil and from death and
judgment and hell. Donít even think that your Father in heaven doesnít care
about your needs!
Why else would you neglect to
pray to God in Jesusí name, pouring out your heart to Him, expecting
Him to bring joy into your life? Could
it be that you donít believe you are worthy to pray to your Father in
heaven? But, listen!
You are not praying in your name.
You are praying in Jesusí name.
That makes all the difference.
Since Jesus came from the Father and returned to the Father you
have an Advocate with the Father who pleads for you before the Father
and for whose sake the Father is always willing to listen to and answer
your prayers. Jesus says,
ďI do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the
Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed
that I came forth from God.Ē
The Father Himself loves those
who love Christ and trust in Him. The
Father binds Himself in loyalty to those who claim Christís holy name
by faith. The Father has
given all things into Jesusí hands and when we lay claim to Jesus Ė
His merits, His obedience, His righteousness, His suffering, His
intercession, His love Ė our Father in heaven is always gracious and
propitious to us for Jesusí sake.
He cannot fail to be, for He has bound Himself with a holy and
divine oath to be faithful to His promises He gives us in Christ.
As we sing:
in Thy cross are centered all the marvels of Thy grace;
When you have Christ you have
the Father. Do you love
Jesus? Do you believe that He came from the Father and that He has
returned to the Father? Then
pray in His name to the Father. Pray
in Jesusí name and do not doubt but firmly believe that your Father in
heaven will answer your prayers and give you whatever you ask.
Ask, and you will most certainly receive. Your heavenly Father will fill you with joy as you pray in
To pray in Jesusí name does
not necessarily require the verbalization of His name.
After all, Jesus taught us to pray, ďOur Father,Ē and the
Lordís Prayer never mentions Jesusí name.
But it is prayed in Jesusí name.
Praying in Jesusí name is not simply a matter of saying the
word ďJesusĒ or the word ďChrist.Ē
People use these names as expletives and people use these names
as good luck charms. The
power of Jesusí name is not the magical power of a sound coming out of
our mouths. The power of
Jesusí name is in what He did from the time He came forth from the
Father into the world and the time when He left the world to go to the
Father. He fulfilled the
law for us all and He took away our sin.
Thatís what He did. Thatís
the power of His name.
Faith receives this and faith
expresses itself in prayer. We
call God Father because we can approach Him with the confidence of dear
children in their loving father. We
hallow His name because we bear His name in Holy Baptism and are
mystically united with Him by faith.
We pray for His kingdom so that He will rule and govern our lives
by His grace, keeping us steadfast in the faith into which we were
baptized. We pray that His
will Ė not ours Ė be done among us and in us and through us.
We pray for what we need to live here on earth, knowing that our
daily needs are in His loving hands.
We pray for forgiveness of our sins, promising to forgive others
as we have been forgiven. We pray that the time of trial would not lead us into sin but
would draw us closer to our Father in heaven who loves us.
We pray that He guard and protect us from all evil and from the
devil. And whenever we pray
we pray with confidence that our prayers will be answered by our Father
in heaven because it is Jesus Christ Himself who has taught us to pray.
We pray in Jesusí name
whenever we pray the Lordís Prayer and we donít mention Jesusí
name. But we pray as
Godís children because we have Jesus.
Christians often think that God
doesnít hear their prayers because when they pray they donít
immediately see an answer. Now
I suppose this preacher could retreat into what might be called the
ďeschatological excuseĒ for Godís failure to answer your prayer.
Eschatology refers to the end times and we can always argue that
God will answer your prayers in heaven if He doesnít do so here on
earth. But Iím not sure
thatís what Jesus means in our text when He says, ďAsk, and you will
receive, that your joy may be full.Ē Heís not talking only about heaven. Heís talking about our lives right now, here on earth.
He is promising us full joy right here and right now.
Now donít misunderstand.
This fullness of joy will coexist with all sorts of
disappointment, heartache, illness, tragedy, and pain.
Thereís no promise here to rapture us out of the world when the
going gets tough. But true
joy is not the absence of any kind of pain.
True joy is in knowing that we know the true God and that He
knows us. He knows our
every fault and our every failure.
In knowing this He forgives us all our sins for Jesusí sake.
He knows what we want and why we want it.
In knowing this He gives us our heartís desire and if our
desire is wrong He patiently changes our will to conform to His own so
that we learn to want what He wants.
He knows what we are suffering and how much of it is our own
fault. In knowing this He
doesnít chide us for our faults and throw our errors up in our face.
He turns His face of judgment away from our wrongdoing and turns
His face of love to us instead.
To have the fullness of joy in
this life is to have both word and prayer: Godís word that places
Jesus into our hearts and prayer that asks for whatever we need in life
with confidence that our Father in heaven will provide it all in
Rev. Rolf D. Preus