Sermon – John 16.23-30 (Easter 6 – 2019)

Lord God, heavenly Father, through Your Son You have promised us that whatever we ask in His name You will give us: We beseech You, keep us in Your Word, and grant us Your Holy Spirit, that He may govern us according to Your will; protect us from the power of the devil, from false doctrine and worship; and also defend our lives against all danger. Grant us Your blessing and peace, that we may in all things perceive Your merciful help, and both now and forever praise and glorify You as our gracious Father; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, JEsus Christ. Amen.

23 “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.

 24 “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

 25 “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.

 26 “In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you;

 27 “for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

 28 “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”

 29 His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech!

 30 “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.”

We Know the Father, and So We Pray

Dear fellow redeemed,

We know the Father and so we pray. How can one pray to the Father without knowing Him? And how can one know Him without the Word. This is what Jesus is saying, He will teach the disciples plainly about the Father that they may know Him. In that day, that day in which they know Him, they will pray to the Father in Jesus’ name.

The Word and prayer go together. Where there is faith in the Word, there is prayer. Martin Luther said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” But where the Word is not heard, and not received by faith, there is no true prayer.

So the Word and prayer go together. So consider first the necessity of the Word for prayer. It is maybe best understood by seeing the futility of prayer without the Word. When visiting with people who don’t go to church, they often defend themselves by saying “I pray to God every day.” But what is prayer without the Word? Shall a person think so highly of their prayer, but act as though God has nothing worthy to speak to them? Shall a person act as what they have to say is more important than what God would have to say to them? When a person starves themselves of the Word through which the Holy Spirit teaches them of the Father, they starve themselves of the knowledge of the Father, and it is no longer the Father to whom they are praying, but to an idol. They might as well be speaking to a mannequin. Such are the prayers of unbelievers. Luther says, their prayers to God are like the noise of geese as they eat. They neither know the Father nor are able to pray in the name of Jesus.

But Jesus said to His disciples, “The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech, but I will tell you plainly about the Father.” During His ministry, Jesus taught a lot in parables. The disciples did not have full understanding of the work Jesus came to accomplish. Even when Jesus spoke clearly that He was going to be delivered up to be crucified and rise from the dead, the disciples did not understand. But on that Sunday of all Sundays in which they saw their risen and victorious Lord they began to understand. But it wasn’t until the Holy Spirit came to them on Pentecost that the words of Christ came through plain and clear to them. They then knew the Father. Knowing the Father, knowing His will, His gracious attitude toward them, and their relationship with Him, they were able to pray confidently to Him in Jesus’ name.

Moved by God, the Apostles wrote this Word of Christ on paper for you, and the Holy Spirit works through that testimony of the Apostles that you too may know about the Father. Knowing the Father, knowing His will, His gracious attitude toward you, and knowing your relationship with Him, you may confidently pray to Him in Jesus’ name.

The Word is all about the Father’s gracious will for you. And the Holy Spirit has opened your eyes of faith that you may plainly see God the Father as your gracious heavenly Father.

But this knowledge about the Father isn’t common knowledge. This isn’t the natural relationship we have with God. Because of the fall into sin, our knowledge of God was broken, and our relationship with Him was destroyed. Our reason knows that a God exists, but our reason cannot know who He is, and what His nature is. We have sinned against Him. We have sought the desires of the flesh rather than sought the holy and righteous will of God, and thus have rebelled against Him and made ourselves enemies of Him. Separated from His light and life, we were stuck under the power of sin and under the authority of the devil and death. In this state of separation from God, we have no access to the Father. And in this condition, prayer, no matter how sincere was just noise, futile.

But the Father had pity on us. His will is the restoration of our relationship with Him, our forgiveness, and eternal salvation.

And so by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word and Sacrament, He brings you to know the Father through the Son. Through the Son, you come to know the Father and are restored to a right relationship with Him. In the Son, you know the Father. You know that He is love. For it was the Father’s will, that His Son would come into the world and be given the name “Yeshua” or “Jesus” as we call Him, which means “The Lord saves” for He will save His people from their sins. Jesus went to the cross to sacrifice Himself to take away your sins, and look to the cross, and there you have proof of the Father’s love for you. For by the cross of His Son, He paid the price for all your sins, that you may be forgiven of them and freed from their bondage and their deserved consequences. By the cross of His Son, the Father reconciles you to Himself, for Jesus had taken the Father’s wrath for our sins, so that without our sins, the Father receives us as His forgiven and redeemed children.

This is the truth of God’s Word. Through God’s Word and through the working of the Holy Spirit, the truth about the Father is known to you! You know He loves you, though we cannot fathom the depths of His love which caused Him to send His beloved Son for us unworthy sinners. You know that He is your Father in heaven! You know that His will is your eternal salvation, that you may live in His glory forever. And with this great love for you He gives you the gift of prayer. He commands you to pray! And He gives us no shortage of motivation to pray!

Because of Jesus, we have direct access to the Father. Our righteousness falls short. We are unworthy for God to hear us because of our sins. But we pray in Jesus name. Because of Jesus’ forgiveness, because of His righteousness, our prayers are heard and are pleasing to the Father in heaven. And so it is foolishness to think that praying to Mary or some other saint in heaven will be more effective than our prayers to the Father. For isn’t Jesus’ forgiveness perfect? Isn’t Jesus’ righteousness perfect? And aren’t we justified and loved children of the heavenly Father, through faith in Jesus? We are indeed, and so because of Jesus our perfect Mediator, we can go directly before the Father’s throne of grace with our prayers. He promises to hear you, and to answer your prayers according to His loving will for you, in His time and in His way.

Prayer is a wonderful gift that Jesus has given you. Jesus tells His disciples about this gift right after He told them about the trouble that they will experience in the world. We are not of the world. We are Christians in an unbelieving world, in a world of sin and death. What a blessed communication we have with the Father in this world. He speaks to us love, forgiveness, righteousness, life and salvation to us through His Word, and we get to speak to Him through prayer!

So having the Word, we pray. Because of the Word we know to whom we are praying (which we have already talked about), what it is to pray according to the Father’s will, and with what confidence we may pray! The Word teaches us the Father’s invitation to cast all our cares and anxieties upon Him for He cares for you, and so we pray to Him in all our need. The Word teaches us that God gives us prayer as a defense against temptation, so when the world tempts us, we flee from temptation and through prayer we run under the safety of our Father’s arms, asking for deliverance. The Word teaches us that prayer is a weapon in our battle against the devil and all his minions, so when he tempts us to hate our enemies, we oppose the devil by praying for our enemies. The Word teaches us that to walk as God’s children in the world, to be conformed to the Father’s image which we lost in the fall and regained in Christ, is love our neighbor, and so in the freedom of the gospel, we then love our neighbor and pray for them.

The Word teaches us that every good and perfect gift comes from above from the Father of the heavenly lights. And so in prayer we give thanks to God for our every gift, for our food, for our health, for our lives, for our loved ones, for our successes, for everything and in everything, we give glory to God. And even in difficult times, even when it seems as though our prayers are not being answered, we keep praying and give praise, for the Word gives us the promise that the Father holds us in the palm of His hand, and will let no one snatch us out of His hand. We still have that promise, that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

The Word and prayer go together. You know your loving and merciful heavenly Father through the Word, and thus you pray. Prayer is worship. Prayer is an act of trust in God and His promises. Prayer is the Christians response to God’s Word, and putting into practice what God has taught us in His Word.

This is a real conversation. This is a real relationship! He becomes our Father because of Jesus’ cross and through the gift of faith. He speaks to us through His Word, and we hear by faith through the power of the Holy Spirit; and we speak to Him through prayer in Jesus’ name, and He most certainly hears! Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.

Share this post