“In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24)
Scripture Reading – Luke 11:1-13
Prayer is an important part of doing the greater works that Jesus said we would do. Immediately after telling His disciples that they would do greater works, Jesus promised that He would do whatever they asked, so that the gospel might be proclaimed to the ends of the earth (John 14:13-14). Then again in John 15, Jesus told His disciples that if they abide in Him, they can ask anything and He will give it to them. Jesus again repeats this promise: “Ask and you will receive.” Throughout this evening, Jesus repeatedly pressed onto His disciples the importance of prayer in spreading the news of the Resurrection. This news was of supreme importance because, through it, the Father would be glorified. Therefore, the Father will mobilize all the resources of heaven to ensure that the gospel goes forth throughout the world.
The disciples had questions about what Jesus meant when He said that in a little while they would not see Him, but in a little while later they would see Him again. They were reticent to ask Jesus and, instead, sought the answer in their own wisdom. The result was frustration at their inability to grasp what Jesus was saying and sorrow at the imminent departure of Jesus, but this isn’t how God intends to operate through His church. He sent the Spirit to lead us in all truth so that the gospel might be proclaimed. If we ask, we will receive an answer. Our prayers will result in the leading of the Spirit in our lives so that we might fulfill the Great Commission.
On several occasions, Jesus taught on the theme, “Ask and you shall receive.” After His seminal teaching on prayer (Luke 11), Jesus immediately told His disciples a parable about a visitor at midnight. The host was under obligation to feed his visitor, but he didn’t have any food to offer him. So, he went to his neighbor’s house and beseeched the neighbor until he woke up and gave him food. Persevering in prayer resulted in receiving. This is a heavenly principle. God answers persistent prayers. And again, Jesus told the parable of the widow who hounded a wicked judge until she received justice (Luke 18:1-8). Her continual asking resulted in her request being granted.
Jesus’ point was that if our persistence resulted in an unfriendly heart granting our plea, how much more would the Father who loves us honor our requests to glorify His Name by giving us all that we need to further His mission? Jesus explained: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:13)! When we pray and ask only for ourselves, our request is too small. God wants to give us something so much greater. The ultimate answer to our asking is receiving the Holy Spirit, God’s presence in us. Through our prayers, we ask God to make His glory known among the nations, and to be faithful to go forward to proclaim His salvation to those lost in darkness. Jesus promised that He would be with us always as we obeyed the Great Commission. His Spirit is the fulfillment of that promise.
The presence of God, through the Spirit, can turn our sorrow into joy. For the Christ-follower, hardships are a part of our work. However, we are not just co-laborers with Jesus in His mission, we are His intimate friends. We can ask Him directly and He will answer us. It’s the Spirit who will comfort our hearts in times of hardship. “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Cor. 1:5). Learn to walk in Christ through prayer, bringing your sorrow to Him. As you do, He will turn it into joy. What are you asking the Father to do through you?