Rogate Sunday Sermon
That Your Joy May Be Full
May 21, 2006
Jesusí disciples asked Him to
teach them how to pray. In
response to their request, Jesus taught them to pray the prayer we know
as the Lordís Prayer. It is called the Lordís Prayer because the Lord Jesus gave
it to us to pray. If we
would like to know the things for which we should pray we need look no
further than to this prayer. It
contains seven petitions or requests.
These petitions include all petitions.
To pray means to ask.
It is to make a request. It
is to plea, to beg, to petition God in heaven for what He alone can
give. In our text for this
morning Jesus invites us to pray. We
see in His words four things that every prayer requires:
every prayer is prayed in response to the promise of God.
Every prayer is prayed in
response to the promise of God. Jesus
gives the promise. He says:
ďMost assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name
He will give you.Ē Prayer
begins with Godís promise. Prayer
does not originate with us. It
begins with God. Without
His invitation to pray and His promise that He will answer our prayers
we would have no right to pray. We
could expect nothing. To
ask God for something without permission is to presume.
Nowadays religion has become quite presumptuous.
People have the idea that prayer is some kind of inalienable
right like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Itís as if there is this weak-kneed god out there waiting to
take orders from his demanding children.
The true God Ė the only God
who exists Ė does not live to take orders from sinners.
He lives in that unapproachable light that no mortal man can
enter. No one can see Him
in His naked glory and live to tell about it.
Who would dare to come before this holy God and make demands of
Him? And yet this is the same God who promises to answer our
prayers. He binds Himself
to this promise. He has
given His word. He never
goes back on His word.
Prayer needs Godís promise.
Without Godís promise there can be no true faith and thus no
true prayer. How can we
pray with confidence unless we first know that God has invited us to
pray and promised to give us those things for which we pray?
We cannot. Those who
presume to pray to God as if they are Godís boss do not really pray
with confidence. Only those
who trust in the promise can pray in faith.
Prayer needs Godís promise.
We donít pray to the saints who have died and gone to heaven.
Why not? There is no
promise from God that they can hear our prayers or answer them.
Without a promise faith is flying blind and is not faith at all
Second, every prayer is prayed
in confidence that Godís promises are true.
Faith is confidence. It
is trust. Faith is
knowledge. It is a certain
kind of knowledge. It knows
that God cannot lie. When
He gives His word it is as good as done.
St. James warns us about praying apart from faith.
him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of
the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from
the Lord. (James 1:6-7)
To doubt God is to question His
word. It is to take His
name in vain. It is to call
His faithfulness into question. We
donít base our faith on what we see.
We may or may not see that God has answered our prayers.
We base our faith on what God says.
We believe that we will receive from God the things we ask
because He has promised to give them to us.
Jesus said, ďWhatever you ask the Father in My name He will
give you.Ē He makes no
limitations. Whatever means
whatever. This is
Christís promise. It is
true. Faith believes that
Godís promises are truth. True
prayer is offered in faith.
Third, every prayer contains
requests or petitions. The
perfect prayer contains seven petitions, which is appropriate because
seven is the perfect number. We
may pray a prayer with a single request.
Or we may pour out our heart and list as many things as burden
us. But prayer, by
definition, asks God for things. When
we ask we ask for specific things.
A child is sick or in trouble.
A marriage is suffering strain.
Money is tight. Health is bad. Death
looms. Sadness overwhelms.
So we pray. We ask
God for all sorts of specific things, throwing upon His mercy every
concern we have.
Now when we ask for specific
things we need to be ready to receive something perhaps a bit different
from what we specifically asked for.
But thatís simply because we cannot know as God knows.
He gives us what we ask, but He must often revise what we ask to
fit into what is best. We
do pray according to Godís will, after all, and Godís will
translates our specific requests into things far better than we could
have put into words.
Fourth, every prayer is prayed
in Jesusí name. This
doesnít require that the name of Jesus be mentioned.
The Lordís Prayer doesnít mention Jesusí name.
To pray in Jesus name means to pray in the faith that receives
Christ and all His benefits. It
is to pray with Christ as our Mediator before God, interceding for us.
It is to pray with confidence that we are justified by Christís
blood and that through faith in Him we have peace with God, access to
the throne of grace, and eternal salvation.
To pray in Jesus name is to pray knowing that Jesus has brought
us into fellowship with God. By
bearing our sins on the cross He has made us acceptable to our Father in
heaven. Jesus has given us
the right to pray. This is
what it means to pray in Jesusí name.
Jesus tells us the purpose of
prayer. We pray in response
to Godís promise. We pray
trusting in His promise. Our
prayers contain petitions or requests to God.
We pray in Jesusí name. Why
are we doing this? What is
the purpose of it all? What
is the goal, the reason, the end for which we are praying?
Jesus tells us: ďThat your joy may be full.Ē
When we pray to God He answers our prayers and gives us the
fullness of joy.
Prayer and Godís word go
together. Godís word without our prayer is God talking as if to a
brick wall. Our prayer
without Godís word is empty talk without any understanding.
In the prayer of the Christian, God joins in a beautiful way His
own promises and our response of faith in those promises. St. Peter tells us to cast our cares on Him because He cares
for us. So we do. We tell Him what bothers us, what troubles our consciences
and brings us doubts. We
confide in Him what we feel when nobody else could possibly understand.
And He always hears us. He
always understands. He
True, at times it seems as if He
isnít paying any attention. But
what seems so isnít so. The
promise remains firm even when appearances conspire to contradict it.
It is especially when it appears that God is paying us no mind
that we must be persistent and stubborn in our prayers. This is a discipline. We
discipline ourselves to set before God those things that we see as our
specific needs. And as we
do this, fighting against doubt, we go to Godís word.
Godís word will then mold and perfect our faith.
He will teach us to pray with more confidence and boldness.
Prayer and Godís word go back and forth and form a conversation
that lifts us up from our troubles and gives us true joy.
Jesus promises that through
prayer our joy will be full. It
will be a genuine joy. It
wonít be the joy in accumulating useless things that will perish with
the world. If we want to
pray our way into material prosperity we donít yet understand what
prayer is. And it wonít
be the joy of sinful pride that places us above others as if in some
kind of a spiritual competition. It
will be the joy of sins forgiven, of true peace with God and in true
fellowship with one another. Prayer
is the heartbeat of the Christianís life, drawing its life from the
pure promises of Godís word. God
is always ready to hear and answer and give us more than we can ask, not
because we deserve this from Him but because He has promised to do so
for Christís sake. Our
lazy flesh will claim that prayer does no good.
The flesh is a fool. It
isnít the good that prayer does.
Itís the good that the God to whom we pray does for us for
Jesusí sake. He is our
Father and we are His children. So
we with all boldness and confidence ask Him as dear children ask their
dear father, in Jesusí name.
In Jesusí name we live and we
Rev. Rolf D. Preus