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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on December 27, 2015 under 2015 |

Message preached New Year’s Sunday, December 27, 2015 from John 14-16

Theme: The resurrected Lord Jesus invites us to confidently bring our petitions to the Father in His name.

(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version; copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.)

Every Sunday before the New Year holiday, I seek a subject from God’s word to encouragement and a challenge the church family for the coming year. And as an exhortation for the coming year, I feel that God has led me to talk about prayer. Specifically, I ask that we turn to the Gospel of John, and look in Chapters 14-16 at what the Lord Jesus has told His disciples about prayer just before going to the cross.

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Did you know that someone once decided to leave our church because they thought that we pray too much? I shared that with someone the other day; and they said, “Prayer is talking to God; and so, that means that they left because they feel like we talk to God too much.” I certainly felt badly that they left; but I have to admit that I didn’t feel badly about their reason for leaving.

If anything, I feel that our problem is that we don’t pray enough! And I think it’s because we don’t really think about prayer rightly. Prayer is God’s gift to us of the greatest resource human beings can possibly have. It’s the ability to speak to God Almighty, and to be graciously heard by Him, and to actually influence Him to move His hand to action in response to our requests! There cannot possibly be a greater power given to us than that! I often think of the current cultural fascination we have with superheroes; and I have wondered if perhaps we enjoy stories about superhuman abilities because they speak to something that we really long for—something that we really desire. We long for access to power that is greater than our own. And that longing is ultimately—and rightly—answered only in our ability to pray to the almighty God who controls all things, and to have those prayers answered by Him.

When we pray together, we are engaging in the only truly supernatural act that we can legitimately engage in—the only one that truly does good and that has the blessing God. And if we truly believed that, I believe we would pray together far more than we do.

Well; I am hoping that in the coming new year—as a church family—we will pray more together; and pray with greater effectiveness. I believe that the Lord Jesus would want that of us. And in the 14th through 16th chapters of John’s Gospel, the Lord Himself teaches us some things He would want us to know about prayer. They are truly astonishing promises about the effectiveness of prayer prayed rightly—prayer prayed in the authority of His name. And I ask that, this morning, we look together at some of those things that He said.

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Now; let’s say something first about these three chapters. If we wanted to treat them rightly, we’d be sure to include John 17; because that’s the chapter in which Jesus Himself sets the example and prays for us as His followers. And we’d also include John 13; because that’s the chapter in which Jesus began this important discussion with His disciples. John 13-17 is one unit; and it represents the longest single dialogue we have in the Bible that Jesus had with His disciples—five chapters long! It is a rich and wonderful and encouraging section of the Bible.

The context of these five chapters is very important. Jesus was having this discussion with His apostles because He was about to leave them. Shortly after the discussion was over, He would go to the Garden of Gethsemane and wait for Judas the Betrayer and for the soldiers who would come and arrest Him. And then, He would be tried, and beaten, and crucified, and buried. And three days later, He would be raised from the dead as the victorious Conqueror of death, and as the Redeemer of sinners.

Jesus had lots of instructions that He wanted to give to His disciples before all that happened. They were conversations that, I believe, He meant for us to—as it were—listen in on. Some of the things that He said were meant only for the apostles; but many of the things that He said were meant for all of us as His followers. And many of those things have to do with prayer.

So; let’s look together at some of the things that He said in Chapters 14-16 about prayer. And as we do, let’s be encouraged together by how the resurrected Lord Jesus invites us to confidently bring our petitions to the Father His name. In fact, let’s be encouraged to do so more than ever in the coming year.

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First, turn with me to John 14:12-14. That’s where we discover what Jesus had to say about . . .


Jesus had just gotten through encouraging His disciples to believe that He had come from the Father; and that He was the one who was revealing to the Father to us. He encouraged them to look at His own works as proof that He was sent by the Father. They would have thought back on all the miracles that they saw Him perform, and would have been assured that He was—indeed—from the Father.

And then, He tells them something absolutely startling—something that was so remarkable that He needed to preface it with a strong affirmation that it is indeed the truth! He told them;

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:12-14).

Take note of the details. Jesus begins by saying, “Most assuredly, I say to you . . .” In the old King James Version, it’s “Verily, verily . . .” This is a sober affirmation of the absolute truth of what Jesus was about to say. Now of course, anytime Jesus says anything at all, we can take it as absolute truth. But here, He wishes to particularly assure us of the truth of the remarkable thing He is about to say. We should pay careful attention to it and whole-heartedly accept it.

Note also that what He has to say applies only to those who believe in Him—that is, those who have placed a conscious faith in Him as the Bible presents Him to be; and have relied on Him for their salvation. It applies to those who have entered into a relationship with Him by faith. Do you remember how I stressed the larger context of this passage a moment ago? Well; in keeping with the context, He is speaking to those who have believed on His identity as the Son of the Father in human flesh, who has suffered on the cross for the payment of our debt to God the Father for our sins, and who was raised from death three days later as proof that the Father is satisfied with the sacrifice He made for us. So; what He is about to say applies to those who “believe” in Him in that way—that is, who trust in Him for their salvation and have a relationship with Him as the living Savior.

And note that He promises this concerning those who believe on Him: that the works that He did, they will do also. In fact, He promises that they will do ‘greater works that these’! He says that this is because He was going back to the Father. Do you remember what happened after He went back to the Father? A short while later, the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost; and the Church came into being. And I believe that what He is saying is that because He had returned to the Father, and because the Holy Spirit came in His place, and because the Spirit has now come to empower His Church on earth, His people have—by the power of the Holy Spirit—done more on this earth in the past two-thousand years than He did when He walked on earth. In fact, it has done greater works in His name!

Now; that’s superhuman power! It’s not a power that was somehow independent of Him; but it has been a matter of Jesus Himself working through His Church in the Person of the Holy Spirit. And how is it that the Church has been able to exercise that power and put it to use? I believe Jesus goes on tell us. It’s through prayer! He went on to say, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (v. 13). It’s such a marvelous thing that He says it again: “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (v. 14).

That’s a promise with great authority! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, here assures us that we have the open invitation to make use of the greatest resource that can possibly be placed in human hands! It’s a promise that, if His followers ask anything in His name, He is right there with the Father to hear them and to give them the answer. He says that He Himself will do it so; so that the Father would be glorified in Him!

When I think of this, I think of another promise that Jesus made—way back in the Sermon on The Mount. He said;

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7-11).

So, dear brothers and sisters in Christ; with an assurance like this—and from no less than the Son of God Himself—how can we not take Him up on this invitation? Let’s just not pray in the coming year—let’s pray more often! And with confident assurance! Together!

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Now; if you were paying careful attention, you saw that this wonderful invitation has some conditions attached. Jesus specified two important conditions. First, it’s an invitation that only applies to those who have a relationship with Him by faith. The only prayer that Jesus will answer of an unbeliever is the prayer that admits his or her sinfulness and helplessness, and that confesses that he or she needs the salvation that only Jesus can give. That prayer—sincerely prayed—will be answered. But the promise that Jesus makes in the passages we’re looking at is conditioned on the saving faith of the one who prays. It’s for he or she “who believes”.

And second, it’s an invitation not to pray just any prayer. Rather, it’s an invitation to specifically ask the Father for anything ‘in Jesus’ name’. And that doesn’t mean that we simply pray a prayer for whatever it may be that we want to pray, and close it off with the words “in Jesus’ name”—as if that’s a magic formula that makes our prayers successful. To speak of Jesus’ ‘name’ means to speak of the full summation of all that He is, and all that He does, and all that He desires. To pray ‘in His name’ means to pray as Jesus Himself would pray—wanting what He Himself wants, asking what He Himself would ask, praying in a way that is consistent with all that He is and does and desires.

Now; how can know how to do that? There’s only one way; and that’s by being in a consistent, growing, abiding personal relationship with Him. Once we believe on Him, we need to keep walking and growing in a relationship of love and obedience toward Him. We need to learn from Him by being continual students of the Bible—learning what He has said and taught and done; keeping His commandments; walking in His steps; learning from Him in the power of the Holy Spirit.

And that leads us to another passage that I ask us to consider—one that shows us what He says about . . .


In John 15, we read that He told His disciples that He is the vine, and that they are the branches. Just as the branches need to abide on the vine—and draw their life from the vine—they needed to be attached to Him and draw their daily strength for life from Him. And in verses 7-8, He promises;

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:7-8).

So; this is a very important condition to being able to ask in His name and to see our prayers become effective. We must abide in Him, and His words must abide in us.

When I think of this, I always think back to a passage of Scripture that I learned early in my Christian life. It was one that was so fascinating to me that it was one of the first passages that I really tried to commit to memory. The apostle John—in 1 John 5:11-13—wrote this:

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:12-13).

That’s an important condition for prayer, isn’t it? It’s one that we’ve already talked about. We must believe on the name of the Lord Jesus for God’s gift of eternal life. And we must continue to believe on Him—drawing our life from Him daily. But notice the very next thing that John says about those who have such faith:

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him (vv. 14-15).

And do you see yet another important condition? We must ask ‘according to His will’. If we ask what He already wants to give, then we can be assured that He will answer! That, I believe, is the secret to effective prayer: to so abide in Christ that we know what He already wants, and then ask for it!

Now; someone might think that that’s not fair. “You mean, if I want my prayers to get answered, I need to ask Him to do what already wants to do?” Yes, I believe that is so. But think of what that means. It means that you and I need to change, and to seek out carefully what it is that He wants to do, and to ask accordingly. In the process of our seeking what He wants, He change our hearts so that we end up wanting what He wants.

And that’s absolutely consistent with Jesus’ promise. Do you remember what He said in John 15:7? “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” Well; if we are abiding in Him as we should be—and if His word is truly abiding in us—won’t that have a transforming power over our desires? Won’t His desires begin to become our own desires? Won’t we begin to want what He wants? Won’t we begin—more and more—to ask Him to do what He already wants to do because it’s also what we want done?

I often say that prayer is a process by which ‘we get God’ where ‘He wants us’. We don’t change Him. Rather, He changes us; so that His desires become our own. When I think of this, I think of what it says in Psalm 36:

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday (Psalm 36:36).

He can freely give us the desires of our hearts because—over time—He actually gives our hearts the desires! Dear brothers and sisters; in the coming year, let’s learn to abide in Jesus more and more together—so much so, in fact, that we begin more and more to ask Him to do what He already wants to do! Can there be any more effective way to pray than that? As Jesus says, that’s how the Father is glorified in us, ‘and so shall we be His disciples’!

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Now; before we end our time, let’s consider one more affirmation from the Lord Jesus. It’s found in Chapter 16; and it shows us . . .


I hope you and I never have the mistaken idea that Jesus must somehow ‘persuade’ the Father to love us and to hear our prayers. Jesus speaks of the time that would come after His death on the cross for us and after His resurrection from the dead. He speaks of the new reality of our relationship with the Father after He has done the work of redeeming us. In verses 23-24, He says;

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” (John 16:23-24).

Jesus had earlier said that, when we pray in His name, He would do what we ask. But more than that; He assures us that the Father Himself would answer our prayers prayed in the name of His Son. Up to that point—that is, throughout all the time that the apostles walked on earth with Jesus in His bodily presence—they had not asked anything directly of the Father in His name. But now, Jesus urges them to do so; and as they ask the Father directly, Jesus promises that they will receive what they ask from Him.

I believe Jesus explains this a little further in verses 26-27; and what He says is truly marvelous! He says;

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” (vv. 26-27).

Do you know why our prayers to the Father—prayed in Jesus’ name and in the context of abiding in Him—are so effective? It’s because those prayers are prayed directly to the Father, and the Father Himself loves us. He is the one, after all, that sent His Son to die for us and to reconcile us to Himself. In fact, the Father loves us so much in Jesus (and I wouldn’t even dare to say this if it had not been for the fact that Jesus Himself said it first) that He actually loves us as much as He loves Jesus Himself! In John 17—in His great prayer for us—Jesus said this to the Father:

“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:22-23).

No wonder we are so free to come to the Father and ask anything in the name of His Son! He always welcomes us, because He loves us as much as He loves His own beloved Son whom He sent to die for us! Do you remember what Jesus said to Mary after He rose from the dead? She clung to Him with joy; and

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God’” (John 21:17).

Think of it! Jesus’ Father is now our Father! Jesus’ God is now our God! We have complete and free acceptance before the Father as His own beloved sons and daughters—loved as much by Him, and as welcomed by Him, as He loves and welcomes His only begotten Son Jesus! We could not possibly be loved by Him more than that! That’s why we can be so confident in coming to Him! That’s why Jesus says, “ Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full”!

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So, dear brothers and sisters in Christ; we have been given the greatest resource human beings could possibly be given. We have truly been given ‘superhuman’ power! It’s ours through our relationship by faith with Jesus Christ. It’s ours when we abide in Him and His word abides in us, and when we allow Him to transform our desires into His own. It’s ours because of our freedom to come to the Father as His own beloved and adopted sons and daughters. It’s the privilege of asking the Father for whatever we wish in the name of His Son—and of seeing our prayers answered to the Father’s glory.

But our great problem is that we don’t pray enough. We don’t ask big enough and often enough. I feel pretty sure that we just don’t believe what Jesus said enough. May it be in the coming year that we grow in our faith and take Jesus up on His wonderful invitation to ‘ask’ much more than we do.

And as a result, may God use us as a church—more and more—to do the greater works that Jesus promised we would do.

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