Lutheran Worship and Resources

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rogate Sunday - Prayer.
John 16:23-30

Rogate, The Fifth Sunday after Easter, 2012

Ascension Day – Holy Communion – Thursday, 7 PM Central Standard

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson

Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time

The Hymn #  202                 Welcome Happy Morning                      4:28
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #458            Our Father             4:50

 Prayer in Five Parts

The Communion Hymn # 207            Like the Golden Sun     4:76
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #657               Beautiful Savior                    4:24     

KJV James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. 27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

KJV John 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. 25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. 26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: 27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. 28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. 29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. 30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.

Fifth Sunday After Easter

Lord God, heavenly Father, who through Thy Son didst promise us that whatsoever we ask in His name Thou wilt give us: We beseech Thee, keep us in Thy word, and grant us Thy Holy Spirit, that He may govern us according to Thy will; protect us from the power of the devil, from false doctrine and worship; also defend our lives against all danger; grant us Thy blessing and peace, that we may in all things perceive Thy merciful help, and both now and forever praise and glorify Thee as our gracious Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Prayer in Five Parts

  1. God’s Promise.
  2. Faith.
  3. Specific petitions.
  4. Asking.
  5. In the Name of Christ.

This Gospel lesson is continues the sermon of Jesus where He taught the disciples about “a little while” – joy turning to sorrow, and then to joy again.

The historic lectionary broke off this part because prayer is good for a sermon by itself. The context - disciples’ hearts are full of sorrow because they are just facing the loss of Jesus, their constant companion and Teacher for the last three years. Jesus guides them in the truth, but they cannot bear everything at this point. Therefore, He is sending the Holy Spirit to guide them in their future work, to remind them of everything He has taught.

Because the non-Lutheran Protestants do not teach the Biblical Means of Grace, they tend to make prayer the Means of Grace. But that is like having apples first and then the trees.

Prayer is the fruit of faith rather than the cause. For this reason the Bible always begins with Gospel messages to create and build faith, ending with Gospel invitation to pray to God in the Name of Christ.

The gracious invitation is similar to our welcoming of guests. It is normal to say, “We have plenty of food and would love to have you stay with us. Have supper with us tonight.” A hospitable person would not say, “Eat! Now! Sit! Stay!”

Therefore, prayer begins with God’s promise of love and abundance.

Part One – God’s Promise
John 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you.

Trench interprets correctly: “In that day, he would say, the day of my seeing you again, I will by the Spirit so teach you all things that you shall be no longer perplexed, no longer wishing to ask me questions, which yet you dare not put.” “In that day” refers to no special day but to the time in general when Jesus will again be with his disciples through the Spirit.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 1098.

Luther summarized this Gospel lesson thus –

1. In this Gospel we have a promise and Christ does not only promise, but he even swears that our prayers shall be heard; but through himself as mediator and high priest.

2. We should pray that we may have peace through faith, which St. Paul says, is a true and perfect peace.

3. When Christ says: “These things have I spoken unto you in parables (dark sayings), it is as much as to say, hitherto you have been unable to understand my Word, it all appears to you dark and hidden; but the time will come, when I send the Holy Spirit, that I shall speak plainly by my Spirit, that is, publicly in your hearts, of the things that belong to my father.

So the sum and substance is, that without the Spirit one does not understand the Word.

The Gospel is God’s Promises, including many promises and blessings. The first of all is forgiveness of sin, in spite of human frailty, and perfect peace – in spite of the raging storms.

This is the work of the Holy Spirit. Pentecostalism (as a denomination) and the Charismatic Movement (within mainline denominations) grew because the leaders no longer taught the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word.

In fact, when I did research on this topic at the Concordia Seminary Library, St. Louis, I found almost nothing on the efficacy of the Word, which is proof of God binding His Spirit to His Word.

Luther and the orthodox generation after him were quite clear on this, and Hebraic studies also teach it, even in modern Judaism to some extent. But modern Protestants and Lutherans stopped teaching it and forgot it. No wonder they turned to business methods, marketing, and the Fad du Jour. (Let’s try puppets. That will do it – puppets are fun and entertaining. No – liturgical dance. That worked great in Philly. No wait – we need to buy a downtown movie theater, maybe a bar. That will do it.)

This future work of the Holy Spirit, promised by Christ, includes everything in the Christian life. No one teaches the Word, except through the Holy Spirit. When we hear the Word of God, the Holy Spirit is conveying Christ in both Natures to us. The Holy Spirit pronounces forgiveness on us, the faith created by the Spirit receiving this absolution (justification by faith). The Holy Spirit moves us to pray in hundreds of Biblical passages and helps us in our prayers. All good works done by believers are moved by the Holy Spirit – they are the nine-fold fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5).

“The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, because they do not utterly rely on Me.” [New Jackson Living Bible, 2012 edition]

Why do people neglect prayer? Because they do not completely trust in Christ’s Promises. No one can keep all promises except God. His Promises are sure. They are everlasting. The Holy Spirit is so powerful, as Luther wrote, that He can turn the worst sorrows into the greatest blessings, as proven by the crucifixion of Christ.

Every Promise in the Old Testament was fulfilled precisely as uttered by God, from the triumph of the Savior in Genesis 3:15 to the way in which the traitor Judas received a morsel from Jesus at the Last Supper. Even more important, the gracious forgiveness of God has been proclaimed and received by millions – in the Name of Christ.

I used this argumentation with a former Lutheran who was overwhelmed with sorrow about his financial worries. He was successful and hard-working, but his anxieties were crippling. I asked him about all the things God had done, from Creation to the Incarnation, Atonement, and Resurrection. Each time I asked a question. Do you believe this? He did. Then I asked him, “You believe God did all these things, but He is unable to provide for you and your family?” The co-worker smiled and cried at the same time – the Word of God convicted him of his unbelief. He knew the Gospel well and believed it, but he did not apply it to himself.

When we are filled with anxieties, sorrows, fears, brought to a standstill because of difficulties beyond our control or future threats, we should start with the Promises of God. Any Gospel passage in the Bible will start us on a new way of thinking because the Holy Spirit teaches us – “Frail, frightened mortal. How can anything separate you from the love of God in Christ?”

I just began a class with a brand new learning platform online. Online teaching and learning is full of extra problems. This new system has its technical problems and we are all learning how to use it. I expect problems but I get frustrated too. The students got so anxious that I said, “This is a shake-down cruise, not the voyage of the Titanic. We will make it to the other side.” That was secular assurance, but it calmed them down.

The advantage of age is perspective. The believer who has faced many crises will have a calmer attitude because it has happened before in some form. This is the Spirit teaching us through the Word that God guides us throughout life. I have told many persons, bewailing the events of the day, “I hope this is the worst day of your life.” After some additional cajoling it dawns on them that their complaints will be very minor through the perspective of time. In fact, real crises are often the only way God can move us to a new work to do in His Name. He builds up our faith through little problems until we can face bigger ones. At some point we have enough scars to help the wounded.

Luther said that a person who has undergone trials is worth 50 who have not. To prove that, church leaders who have enjoyed nothing but financial security (especially by doing nothing about false doctrine) brag about their financial security. They are really saying, “False doctrine does pay, and I pity those who do not follow my lead.”

Part Two – Faith in Him

3. So God himself now founds our prayer upon his promise and thereby encourages us to pray. If it were not for this promise, who would have the courage to pray? We have hitherto resorted to many ways of preparing ourselves to pray — ways with which the books are filled; but if you wish to be well prepared, take the promise and lay hold of God with it. Then your courage and desire to pray will soon grow, which courage you will never otherwise get. For “those who pray without God’s promise, imagine in themselves how angry God is, whom they wish to propitiate by means of their prayers. Without faith in the promise, there is then, neither courage nor desire to pray, but mere uncertain delusion and a melancholy spirit; there is, therefore, no hearing of prayers, and both prayer and labor are lost.

John 16:24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. 25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.

In 14:13, 14 the matter of asking in Jesus’ name is stressed as something that is altogether natural for disciples of Jesus. So in 15:16 “in my name” again appears as a matter of course. Now, however, we learn that “in my name” pertains to the Giver as well as to the petitioner; as we pray, so the Father (or Jesus, 14:13, 14) gives “in my name.” Hence the disciples must use this name. They must in all their needs come not merely with the name “Jesus” on their lips or attached to their prayers but with the revelation (Name) of Jesus in their hearts by faith. Up to this time, Jesus says, the disciples have not prayed in this manner. Some think that Jesus points to a shortcoming, a weakness, a fatal deficiency in the praying of the disciples. If this were the case, the blame would fall on Jesus himself, since he delayed until this time to impress upon the disciples the necessity of using his name in prayer. Until this time Jesus himself had allowed the disciples to pray as all true Jews prayed in connection with the name of God as it was known to them from the old covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In their prayers hitherto they used the Old Testament promises and prayed in connection (in) with them. But now the fulfillment of these promises had arrived in Jesus; in a few hours the new covenant would be sealed with the blood of Jesus. Thus faith had to advance and to embrace this new covenant, the fulfillment of the old promises in Jesus. It thus had to use Jesus’ name and revelation when praying. The reason for the advance to Jesus’ name is objective. The Spirit will take “of mine” and will report this to the disciples (16:14, 15). Thus subjectively, too, the disciples will now turn to Jesus’ name. Refusal so to do would mean the rejection of the revelation (name) of Jesus.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 1100.

This is an important verse, because it reveals how the disciples changed from praying as traditional Jews to praying as Jesus’ apostles. To pray in the Name of Christ is a confession of faith in Him. Every religion has some kind of prayer. Free-thinkers insist on dropping “in the Name of Christ.” A Masonic Lodge chaplain is not allowed to pray in the Name of Christ, because that will offend other Masons. That alone is proof that Masonry is not Christian, but anti-Christian.

Now we have paid chaplains at universities who start a ceremony with bowed heads and a “moment of silence to pray to whatever power we believe in” – or not. Prayer in the Name of Jesus has become quiet time. When Al Benke, the LCMS DP, prayed at the all-religions service at Yankee Stadium, he did NOT pray in the Name of Christ. That is the definition of apostasy, refusing to make a confession of faith when it matters most. He is a constant presence on the ALPB Online Forum, where he admonishes pastors not to spend all their time on the computer (as he does). The Barry-McCain administration did nothing about his apostasy, which is additional proof of synodical apostasy. Kieschnick punished Wallace Schulz for doing something, however minor and temporary it was.

Praying in the Name of Christ indicates our faith. Crawling away from that confession, in terror that Sikhs and Zoroastrians might frown, is evidence of complete unbelief, especially unbecoming in the clergy.

Not praying is conviction of unbelief. Not casting our cares upon our gracious Heavenly Father is admission of unbelief.

Luther made fun of the Medieval Rogate processions, with great shows of prayer. He said that when they got rid of them, no one prayed, which proved they were not praying then, either. That reminds me of the great displays of piety today – very Roman or Eastern Orthodox. Although I favor the formal liturgy and the traditions associated with it, because they are good, high church hysteria communicates a lack of trust in the Word. Chemnitz also had some fun with the bawling and carrying on, which he pronounced either a farce or a tragedy.

Part Three – Specific Petitions

John 16:26 At that day ye shall ask in My Name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:

Here Jesus amplifies v. 23, 24. “In that day,” after Pentecost, the petitions directed to the Father by the disciples in Jesus’ name will not need the support and the intercession of Jesus in order to be granted by the Father. Hence Jesus does not say to them that he will second their petitions by himself…
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 1103.

This change in prayer emphasizes that the disciples will pray directly to the Father, with Jesus no longer seconding those petitions. In the Greek text the pronoun “I” does not need to be used, because it is part of the verb. However, Jesus said “I” as a pronoun, which emphasizes that He Himself will do this.

8. The third requisite of true prayer is, that one must name definitely something that he brings to God or for which he prays; as for strong faith, for love, for peace, and for the comfort of his neighbor. One must actually set forth the petitions; just as the Lord’s Prayer presents seven petitions.

This is what Christ means by the words: “If ye shall ask anything of the Father.” “Anything,” that is, whatever you are in need of. Besides, he himself interprets this “anything” and says: “That your joy may be made full.” That is, pray for all things you need, until you have acquired even all and your joy is made full; and his prayer will first be fully answered on the day of judgment.

The Lord’s Prayer is a model for specific petitions or requests. As we mature, the requests reflect that change. In Sunday School, children pray that they will win the next soccer game. That is not bad, because it is the start of faith. When we have a pattern or habit of prayer, the requests change.

Because so many things weigh on us, praying to God about them will give us relief as He answers according to His wisdom.

KJV Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh [same basic word as efficacy] in us,

The Gospel is at work in us so that our prayers are answered beyond what we can even imagine.

Even more, God promises in Isaiah that He is already answering our prayers before we ask –

KJV Isaiah 65:24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

We can see that at work when things happen that needed a start before we even asked.

Parts 4 and 5
Asking (4) in the Name of Christ (5)

John 16:27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. 28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. 29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. 30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.

This is the Gospel motivation, which John 16:26 indicates in a startling way. “I Myself will not ask, because God the Father loves you for loving Me.” Therefore, our petitions are just as direct toward the Father as Jesus’ were when He prayed, “Abba, Father.”

This is even more motivation to pray, because we are counted as equals because of faith in Christ and His work for us. Both go together.

Notice how well James and the Fourth Gospel go together. Is the Epistle of James against faith?

KJV James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

Certainly James urges people to pray and condemns them for not praying because they lack faith. Going back and forth between human wisdom and relying on God is not good – it is unstable. Thus pastors, people, and synods are tossed about like waves driven by the wind.

18. And here we also see that to “believe in Christ” does not mean to believe that Christ is a person who is both God and man; that does not help any one. But that this same person is the Christ; that is, that he went forth from the Father and came into the world, and again leaves the world and goes to the Father. The words mean no less than that this is Christ, that he became man and died for us, rose again and ascended to heaven. Because of this office of his, he is called Jesus Christ, and to believe this concerning him, that: it is true, means to be and to abide in his name. There follows further in this Gospel: “His disciples say, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no dark sayings.”


"This doctrine concerning the inability and wickedness of our natural free will and concerning our conversion and regeneration, namely, that it is a work of God alone and not of our powers, is [impiously, shamefully, and maliciously] abused in an unchristian manner both by enthusiasts and by Epicureans; and by their speeches many persons have become disorderly and irregular, and idle and indolent in all Christian exercises of prayer, reading and devout meditation; for they say that, since they are unable from their own natural powers to convert themselves to God, they will always strive with all their might against God, or wait until God converts them by force against their will; or since they can do nothing in these spiritual things, but everything is the operation of God the Holy Ghost alone, they will regard, hear, or read neither the Word nor the Sacrament, but wait until God without means..."
Formula of Concord, Free Will, 46,  Triglotta, p. 899.

"The Christian's faith trusts in the ordinary means.  Prayer is not a means of grace.  Means of grace are divine appointments through which God uniformly offers blessings to all who use them.  Faith is the means by which the blessings are received and appropriated.  God gives us bread, when we ask it, not through the channel of prayer, but through the ordinary channels of His providence.  He gives us grace when we ask it, not through prayer, but through the ordinary means appointed for this end, namely the Word and Sacraments.  He who despises these will as little have grace as he who refuses to accept bread produced in the ordinary way of nature.  Faith asks with confidence, and trusts in the ordinary means of God's appointment for the blessings asked."
Matthias Loy, Sermons on the Gospels, p. 387.

"Prayer is made vigorous by petitioning; urgent, by supplication; by thanksgiving, pleasing and acceptable.  Strength and acceptability combine to prevail and secure the petition."
 Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., VI,  p. 107. Philippians 4:4-7.

"The Lord's Prayer opens with praise and thanksgiving and the
acknowledgement of God as a Father; it earnestly presses toward Him through filial love and a recognition of fatherly tenderness.  For supplication, this prayer is unequaled.  Hence it is the sublimest and the noblest prayer ever uttered."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., VI,  p. 107. Philippians 4:4-7; Matthew 6:9-13.

"In like manner, St. Paul says that God's ability is thus proved, in that He does exceeding abundantly above and better than we ask or think. Ephesians 3:20. Therefore, we should know we are too finite to be able to name, picture or designate the time, place, way, measure and other circumstances for that which we ask of God.  Let us leave that entirely to Him, and immovably and steadfastly believe that He will hear us."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., III,  p. 179f. Ephesians 3:20.

"Only begin this [prayer, self-examination], I say, and see how you will succeed in the task; and you will soon discover what an unbelieving knave is hidden in your bosom, and that your heart is too dull to believe it."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., II,  p. 257. Mark 16:1-8. 

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