Rogate Sunday Sermon

May 6, 2018

“Ask the Father in Jesus’ Name”

John 16:23-30


"And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I 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. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father." His disciples said to Him, "See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God." John 16:23-30


Jesus commands us to pray to God.  If we ask we will receive and our joy will be full.  He promises that the Father will give whatever we ask in his name.  We must always pray in Jesus’ name.  This is because Jesus is the One who gives us the right to pray.  We love Jesus.  God the Father loves Jesus, his only begotten Son.  Jesus came from the Father into this world.  He left this word to go to the Father.  His coming from and going to the Father is what gives us the right to pray with confidence that his Father is our Father.  This is what we confess in the Creed:


I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell.  The third day he rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father, almighty, from thence he shall come to judge the living and dead.


He comes from the Father.  He is true God and true man.  He received his deity from the Father in eternity and his humanity from his mother in time.  He lives the holy life God’s law required all of us to live.  He obeys and he suffers.  He suffers under Pilate and is crucified for us all, bearing in his own body the sin and guilt of the world.  He dies and is buried.  Before rising from the dead he marches through hell, declaring his victory over the devil and his demons.  He rises from the dead, shows himself alive by many infallible proofs, and ascends visibly into the sky until a cloud hides him from sight.


By coming from the Father and returning to the Father, Jesus was winning for us all our right to pray to the Father.  We pray to the Father in Jesus’ name because Jesus has given us the right to do so.  We pray in Jesus’ name because we live in Jesus’ name and we will die in Jesus’ name.  As Kingo’s Gradual says:


In Jesus’ name, we live and we will die;

If then we live, His love we will proclaim;

If we die, we gain thereby.

In Jesus’ name, who from heaven to us came,

We shall again arise to meet Him in the skies

When at last saved by his grace,

We shall see Him face to face

Live with Him in Paradise.


In Jesus’ name we ask our Father for whatever we need.  He will answer our prayers.  He will give us the fullness of joy.  He will deny us no good thing.  What if we don’t know what to ask God when we pray?  We pray the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer the Lord Jesus taught us to pray.  Praying this prayer we learn to pray.


We pray, “Our Father.”  We don’t tremble before God, wondering if he is out to destroy us for our sins and punish us for our wrongdoings.  We call on him confidently as dear children address their dear Father.  We are washed in the blood of Jesus!  We are washed clean in Holy Baptism.  We are children of God.  We have the right to pray.


When we pray, “Hallowed be thy name,” we ask God to provide us with his true and saving word.  Should God stop hallowing his name among us and leave us to the tender mercies of those who distort his teaching and promote lies in his name, we would be lost.  We would have no hope.  We pray that God’s name be kept holy among us.  That is, we pray that his word be taught to us faithfully, so that we can know the truth about God.


We pray, “Thy kingdom come.”  If God doesn’t rule over us by his grace, taking off of our souls the burden of our guilt, we labor under the tyranny of a guilty conscience.  Those who do not rely on the grace God bestows in his kingdom can find no true spiritual peace.  They say, “I’m spiritual; not religious.”  That’s a delusion.  Apart from Christ’s rule in his Father’s kingdom, there is no Holy Spirit to call us, enlighten us, sanctify us, and keep us in the true faith.


We pray, “Thy will be done.”  When it comes to what God teaches in his law we know his will.  The Ten Commandments summarize God’s will for our behavior in this world.  Do you want to live a good, successful, happy, and rewarding life?  Look to God’s Law as your guide. 


When God’s Law accuses you and shows you your sin and you fear God’s will for you because, after all, God’s Law says, “The soul that sins, it shall die,” listen to his will for you expressed in the gospel.  The gospel is God’s good and gracious will.  He wants to forgive you, restore you, deliver you from whatever trouble you are facing, and keep you safe from harm.


We pray, “Thy will be done,” not knowing the details of what God wants for us.  But he has revealed his will for our behavior.  He has revealed his gospel that rescues us from the death we have brought upon ourselves.  What God has revealed about his will is all we need to know.  When his will is hidden from us, we won’t worry about what it is.  We know God in Christ.  That is enough.


We pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  God will direct everything in this world for our good.  He will care for our bodily needs.  He won’t leave us hungry.  He won’t forget that we need good weather, good government, good friends, pious children, and every other blessing of this life.


We pray “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  We pray this petition because we know that we don’t deserve anything we ask of God.  We must rely, not on our worthiness, but on his forgiveness.  Since he has forgiven all our sins freely by his grace through the redemption of Christ his Son, we live under forgiveness.  We don’t deserve what he gives, but he gives it.  This is how we treat those who do us wrong.  We are God’s children.  God forgives us.  We forgive those who sin against us.  He forgives freely when we don’t deserve it.  So do we.  After all, we are his dear children.


We pray, “Lead us not into temptation.”  Jesus was tempted in every way just as we are but without sin.  And remember!  We are praying in Jesus’ name.  We pray our Father in heaven that when temptation comes, it will not overtake us.  Sin will not rule over us.  When we face the hour of trial we will not fail.  God will sustain us and keep us.  Should we fall, he will pick us up.


We pray, “Deliver us from evil.”  We live in a dangerous world.  We could become victims of a crime.  We could get sick.  We could suffer a heart attack or a stroke or get cancer.  We could die without warning.  Jesus teaches us to pray, “Deliver us from evil.”  We pray our Father in heaven to keep us in the Christian faith and give us a Christian death.  This is what the pastor prays at the graveside during the committal service:


Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.  He comes forth like a flower, and is cut down; he flees also as a shadow and does not continue.  In the midst of life we are in death.  Of whom may we seek comfort but of you, O Lord, who for our sins are justly displeased?  Yet, O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty, O holy and most merciful Savior, deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.  You know, Lord, the secrets of our hearts; shut not your merciful ears to our prayers; but spare us, Lord most holy; O God most mighty, O holy and most merciful Savior, most worthy Judge eternal, let us not, at our last hour, for any pains of death to fall from you.


This is what we pray when we say, “Deliver us from evil.”  God answers this prayer.  So we say “Amen.”  Yes!  Truly!  God has told us so to pray and has promised to hear us.  Yes, yes, it shall be so!


We pray together.  We gather together here in Christ’s church.  We come to hear God talk to us.  We come to talk to God.  God speaks.  As we listen to him speak to us we learn how to pray to him.  God speaks to us words of life.  Our prayers confess our faith in the words God speaks to us.  We pray together.  We sing the Ordinary of the Divine Service.  Sooner or later we know it by heart.  We sing the hymns together.  We pray together.


We pray when we are all alone.  We pray – we ask – in Jesus’ name.  No other prayer will do.  When we pray in Christ’s name, we pray with confidence that our Father will give us even more than we ask.  We wouldn’t give our children stones if they asked for bread.  How much more will our Father in heaven give good gifts to his children who ask in Jesus’ name? 


We should pray especially when we are in trouble.  When you feel lost, unworthy, as if you are not God’s child, but his enemy, don’t be afraid to pray.  Of course, you’re not worthy to pray, not on your own merits.  But look to Christ’s worthiness.  It is yours.  God gave it to you when he baptized you.  Claim it.  Bring your petitions to God in confidence that for Christ’s sake he is your dear Father and you are his dear child.


When afflictions sore oppress you,

Low with grief and anguish bowed,

Then to earnest prayer address you;

Prayer will help you through the cloud,

Still to see your Savior near,

Under every cross you bear;

By the light his word doth lend you,

Prayer will joy and comfort send you.


Rolf D. Preus


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