Available as a free download here in ‘What on Earth have we Done with the Teachings of Jesus?’, I listed the top ten teachings that Jesus spoke on. In covering the top ten out of 83 different subjects, I am now looking at the 2nd most common topic which is to – Pray and Ask.
Jesus said, Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete, John 16.
I have seen that when I ask, I receive
Do we ask? I know I don’t ask enough. Am not in the habit of it. Possibly have a secret doubt I will receive it. Still have that sense hidden within me that I have to be strong and independent. It’s far more tempting to moan about the certain condition of things, than to offer them up to God. But I have seen with my own eyes that when I ask, and ask in faith, I receive.
Henry says – It is taken for granted that all Christ’s disciples give themselves to prayer. He has taught them to be much in prayer. This must be their support and comfort for after when he would leave them; their instruction, direction, strength, and success, must be fetched in by prayer.
Here is an express promise in John 16:23, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I pledge my reliability upon it.” The promise itself is incomparably rich and sweet. The golden sceptre is here held out to us. What is your petition, and it shall be granted? For he says, Whatever you shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it to you. We had it before, John 14:13. The promise is as express as we can desire.
Jesus teaches us how to seek
Jesus teaches us how to seek. We must ask the Father in Christ’s name. Come as children to Him and to Christ as Mediator. Have believing confidence in him, as a Father able and ready to help us. Asking in Christ’s name includes an acknowledgement of our own unworthiness to receive any favour from God. Entire dependence upon Christ as the Lord our Righteousness.
Jesus said, ‘He will give it to you’. What more can we wish for than to have what we want, in conformity to God’s will, for the asking? He will give it to you, from whom comes every good and perfect gift. What Christ purchased by His death, He consigned to, His faithful followers.
Asking and receiving are the comfort in the land of our pilgrimage
By this promise He draws a bill upon the treasury in heaven, which we are to present by prayer. In His name we ask for that which is purchased and promised. Christ had promised them great illumination by the Spirit, but they must pray for it. God wants for this be enquired of. He had promised them perfection in the hereafter, but what shall they do in the meantime? They must continue praying. Asking and receiving are the comfort in the land of our pilgrimage.
Our Lord Jesus is a great benefactor. He gives liberally. “You have asked nothing in comparison to what you want, and what I have to give, and have promised to give.” We are told to open our mouth wide.
“Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full”. Here He directs them to ask for all that they needed and He assures them that they shall receive. What we ask from a principle of grace, God will graciously give: You shall receive it. There is something more in this than the promise that He will give it. He will not only give it, but give you to receive it, give you the comfort and benefit of it, a heart to eat of it, Eccl. 6:2.
Our joy shall be full
And so our joy shall be full. The blessed effect of the prayer of faith, is joy. Would we have our joy full, as full as it is capable of being in this world, we must be much in prayer. When we are told to rejoice evermore, it follows immediately, Pray without ceasing.
God’s gifts, through Christ, fill the treasures of the soul, they fill it with joy, Prov. 8:21. “Ask for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and you shall receive it; whereas other knowledge increases sorrow (Eccl. 1:18), the knowledge He gives will increase your joy.”
Christ is our advocate (1 John 2:1). He settles the correspondence between us and God, has erected a throne of grace, and consecrated for us a new and living way.
Christ purchased God’s favour
We have a Father, which is so great an encouragement that it supersedes all others: “For the Father Himself loves you, He is a friend to you, and you cannot be better befriended.” The disciples of Christ are the beloved of God Himself. Christ not only turned away God’s wrath from us, and brought us into a covenant of peace and reconciliation. But He purchased His favour for us, and brought us into a covenant of friendship.
Observe the emphasis, “The Father Himself loves you, and is pleased to love you.” The Father Himself, whose favour you had once forfeited, but now with whom you need an advocate, He Himself now loves you. The Father loves the disciples of Christ because: we love Christ, we have believed that He comes from God.
Faith in Christ works by love
Faith in Christ works by love to Him, Gal. 5:6. If we believe Him to be the Son of God, we cannot but love Him as He is infinitely lovely. If we believe Him to be our Saviour, we cannot but love Him as He is most kind to us.
Christ is pleased to speak of His disciples’ love to him, and how kindly He took it, “You have loved me and believed in me when the world has hated and rejected me; and you shall be distinguished yourselves.”
See what advantage Christ’s faithful disciples have, the Father loves them, and that because they love Christ; so well pleased is He in Him that He is well pleased with all his friends. What encouragement this gave them in prayer.
We owe Christ’s merit to God’s mercy
We need not fear when we come to one that loves us, and wishes us well. This cautions us against hard thoughts of God. When we are taught in prayer to plead Christ’s merit and intercession, it is not as if all the kindness were in Christ only, and in God nothing but wrath and fury. No, the Father’s love and good-will appointed Christ to be the Mediator. So we owe Christ’s merit to God’s mercy in giving Him for us.
Let it cherish and confirm in us good thoughts of God. Believers who love Christ, ought to know that God loves them, and therefore we come boldly to him as children to a loving Father.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
When we have the full revelation of the Father’s love towards us we can be emboldened to ask and pray. For we know that it the Father’s good pleasure to give us all things in accordance to His will.
Pray and Praise Never weary in prayer. When the day comes when all is conveyed. When man sees how marvelously his prayer has been answered Then he will deeply, so deeply regret how little he prayed. Prayer changes all; Prayer re-creates in its beautiful increasing; Prayer is irresistible So pray literally, without ceasing. Pray until you almost cease to pray So rock-like has become your trust; And then pray on because it has become so much a habit That you cannot resist it – a must. And always pray until Prayer merges into praise. That is the only note on which true prayer should end For those who live in My ways. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, Forgive me for my lack of prayer. By Your Spirit keep me in continual communion with You. Help me to understand more of the height, depth and width of Your love for me that I may never doubt Your goodness in answering my plea. In the Name of Christ. Amen.