Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Trinity in Prayer 2

Part Two—Jesus the Son in our prayer life
(Part One-God the Father in our prayer life--is here.)
“Ah,” you say. “I know what you are going to say next. You have told us to come to our Abba, our Father, with freedom and confidence. You told us the part the Father has in our prayer. Now you are going to tell us how Jesus is part of our prayer life, but I already know that. After you pray, you must say “in Jesus name”.”

Sigh. Not quite. Sometimes I get the feeling that people I pray with think this ‘in Jesus name’ puts a special whammy on the prayer that guarantees an answer. Notice Matthew 6 again. “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” There is not a special magic in using ‘in Jesus name’.

Rather people are misunderstanding another famous passage from John. Jesus says, “In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.” We approach God with freedom and confidence because of Jesus. Everything that we have with God is because of Jesus. When we approach God, we know that because He sent the Son for us, we have access to the Father. Jesus is saying here that he is not saying that he, Jesus, has to pray for us; rather God the Father receives us “in Jesus name”, not by virtue of saying a magic formula that somehow gets heard.

I keep coming back to Ephesians here. “That the manifold wisdom of God should be made known. . . according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Our access to God the Father is through Jesus—that is in Jesus’ name—not closing your prayer with a magic formula. Jesus is the door to God the Father—Jesus loves us himself, but remember that God the Father loved you enough to send his son into the world. But the Son, scriptures remind us, gave himself willingly to us. So who loves us more? What a ridiculous question! You may rest assured that you are loved by both the Father and the Son.

Sometimes we get confused about the Father and Son, but we need to know one thing for certain. They are united in purpose for everything. If God the Father loves us, then we ought to know that God the Son loves us, and vice versa. For example, one of my favorite verses that shows the sovereignty of God is John 6:65, where Jesus tells us “that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” Oh I see, you might say! God the Father does the enabling and thus I am able to come to Him. Well, not quite. In the prayer of Jesus, the Lord’s Prayer, John 17:9 & 10 says that “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine.” In other words, the Triune God seems to share things equally.

John 16:23 “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” Jesus was not saying that the disciples could not ask him; instead he was saying that He Himself would no longer be around to ask—instead Jesus wanted them to go directly to the Father. He was still the “doorway” to the Father and indeed Jesus will always be our access to God.

So when we go to prayer, we address God the Father, but we are relying on Jesus the Son to intercede for us. “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because He always lives to intercede for them.” So when we pray, we ought to know that we have Jesus himself interceding for us. He is our High Priest, “for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” So the writer of Hebrews tells us (He. 4:16) we go to prayer to God the Father “with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” What does all this mean to me? I have every confidence, with in smallest of my prayers, that I can bring it to the Father, and rely on the Son Himself to intercede for me. And I need to remember that the Father Himself is in agreement with the Son; He Himself is willing to answer my petitions.

So we have seen that Christ is our High Priest interceding for us, but what else does Jesus do when we pray? Paul gives an answer: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”. He is the access point to the Father, the middle point through which we must go to get to the Father. Thus Jesus is our High Priest, interceding and mediating between us and God. Because of Him we can approach the Father with freedom and confidence.

R. A. Torrey, in The Person and Word of the Holy Spirit, says of Jesus: “Oh, Thou glorious Lord and Saviour, Jesus Thou Son of God, I thank Thee for Thy great love that led Thee not to count it a thing to be grasped to be on equality with God but to empty Thyself and forsaking all the glory of heaven, come down to earth with all its shame and to take my sins upon Thyself and die in my place upon the cross of Calvary.” I love this quote for it reveals the kind of content that we ought to have in our prayers when we approach the Father. I cannot remember the sacrifice Christ made for me and pray selfishly. I might try to pray selfishly, but when I remember that I am supposed to emulate my Lord, who willingly parted with everything, my attitude for prayer changes vibrantly for the better.

For a Bible class I once studied the topic of unanswered prayer, an almost unheard of phenomenon in the Bible. It seems that willful disobedience followed by prayer is one of the very few prescriptions for unanswered prayer. God tells us to pray. Jesus tells us to pray through Him. The record of the Bible is clear for in the thousands of verses on prayer the overwhelming majority are answered. James tells us that ye have not because ye ask not. So the first reason for missing a blessing from God is that we do not bother to ask. I am reading the prayer records of George Muller, and am simply amazed at the prayers that Muller kept bringing to God, until God showed forth His grace with an answer. John tells us, “ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” Therefore I wish to ask, to challenge God to use me for His glory in a larger way, that my joy might be complete.

In our next section, we will examine how the Holy Spirit works when we pray, completing the Triune God in Prayer series.

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