Presentation 70. Introduction At school the lesson I least looked forward began with the words, “Today we are going to summarise last week’s work”

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  • Presentation 70
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  • Introduction At school the lesson I least looked forward began with the words, Today we are going to summarise last weeks work. I didnt like summaries. I wanted to hear and see new things all the time. But the teacher knew the value of summary; of consolidating what has been taught while stressing what was of particular importance. Jesus too, knew the importance of summary and it is found in v23-27. First, Jesus deals with prayer and there are four elements to his instruction: 1.the nature of prayer 2.the privilege of prayer 3.the conditions of effective prayer 4.a new prayer promise. Presentation 70
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  • The Nature of Prayer The nature of prayer is indicated by the word ask, which is repeated five times. Jesus presents prayer made to the Father in a way that is similar to the conversation his disciples had been having with him. Prayer is thus removed from a mysterious, religious rite, engaged in by a select few and is brought into the common experience of ordinary people. Prayer is essentially a conversation between a child of God and his heavenly Father. Jesus says, just as you have been asking me questions during our time together, so you will put them to my Father after I return to heaven. Presentation 70
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  • The Nature of Prayer This doesnt mean that a Christian cannot pray to Jesus directly, but it does suggest that the normal expression of prayer is to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ and, as we learn elsewhere, by the enabling of the Holy Spirit. Prayer should be as natural as speaking. The disciples questions were natural and quite unaffected. That is the point. They are an indication of what the tone of our own prayers should be. Presentation 70
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  • The Privilege of Prayer Secondly, these verses indicate the privilege of prayer. For as the result of Jesus death and resurrection, those who exercise faith in him have a new relationship with God as heavenly Father. They are able to exercise the same freedom and boldness that had characterised the approach of Jesus disciples to him during his earthly ministry. And they come, knowing that their requests will be granted. Do not think that the disciples had not prayed to God the Father before the resurrection. What they had not done is ask anything of the Father in 'Christ's name. Now they are to do so, confident that whatever they ask the Father in Christ's name, he would give to them. Presentation 70
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  • The Conditions Of Effective Prayer Thirdly, Jesus unpacks what he means to ask in his name. It means several things. First, it means to come to God as one who not only recognises Jesus identity but trusts in what he has disclosed about himself as Saviour, and as Gods anointed. He is uniquely one with the Father and described by the Father as his beloved Son. Jesus name revealed both his person and his work. And those who have trusted in him have unique family privileges. God does not promise to hear the prayer of anyone who comes to him in any way. But he will listen to those who come to him through faith in the person and work of his beloved Son. Presentation 70
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  • Secondly, praying in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ means that when we pray we depend upon Jesus worth and merit to secure a response rather than trusting in our own worth and accomplishment. Its quite wrong to think that because I have had a good day today then God is more likely to hear me than if I have had a bad day. Here is how the Horatius Bonar the Scottish minister and hymn-writer puts it, Not what I am O Lord but what thou art, that, that alone can be my souls true rest. Presentation 70 The Conditions Of Effective Prayer
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  • The illustration of drawing money out of a bank may be helpful because it involves a person's name. If I go to my bank with a check that Ive signed for 1,000,000 and try to cash it, the bank teller will laugh at me. Why? Because I am asking in my own name and its clear from the bank records that there are insufficient funds to cover my cheque. But if I go to a bank with a check signed by a millionaire like Bill Gates or Richard Branson then the check will be honoured because of their name and the size of their deposits. Presentation 70 The Conditions Of Effective Prayer
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  • Similarly, when I pray Im going to the bank of heaven. Ive nothing deposited there. I have no credit there. If I go in my own name Ill get absolutely nothing; but Jesus has unlimited credit in heaven, and he has granted me the privilege of going to the bank with his name on my checks, and my prayers will be honoured to any extent. If we grasp this, then when we pray we will not think that God should hear us because we have read our Bibles daily or served the church faithfully, or engaged in mission zealously. The prayers of many are ineffective because they invariably approach God with this kind of thinking. Presentation 70 The Conditions Of Effective Prayer
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  • There is one more thing that praying in the name of Jesus means. It means praying in line with Christ's character and objectives, that is, praying as he would under identical circumstances. It means praying in accordance with his will. Can we really know what Christ is after? Can we know his will? Yes, of course we can. First, by means of his Word, and secondly, by the ministry of the Holy Spirit who interprets that Word to us and correctly guides our petitions. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of knowing Scripture if we are to know the will of God. Nothing is more important! Presentation 70 The Conditions Of Effective Prayer
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  • Very occasionally, God reveals His will to us by extraordinary means, as he did to Moses at the burning bush or to Gideon by means of his fleece. But the normal way of knowing the will of God is by what he has revealed of his purposes and character in the Bible. It is the work of his Holy Spirit to take what is written there and brings its meaning and contemporary force home to our hearts and consciences. Presentation 70 The Conditions Of Effective Prayer
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  • There are many times when we do not know the will of God, and when that is the case we must pray cautiously allowing the Holy Spirit to interpret our prayers aright. But when we know God's will, as we do wherever it is revealed in Scripture, then we may pray confidently in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and know that we shall receive the petitions that we have requested of him. Presentation 70 The Conditions Of Effective Prayer
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  • A New Prayer Promise Finally a new promise is made regarding prayer. It is in two parts. First, God will give spiritual understanding to those who ask him. This is the point of the words: "Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father." v25. Jesus recognised even as he spoke that the disciples were not understanding his teaching and that much of what he said was therefore a "dark saying" to them. "But this will not last forever," he says, "for one of the things you may ask for in prayer is understanding; for your eyes to be opened. Presentation 70
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  • A New Prayer Promise If you ask, you will receive. Do we lack understanding? Does the Bible at times seem a closed book to you? Are certain sayings of Jesus or certain doctrines hard to grasp and come to terms with? If so, then we have this great promise that, if we ask, we will certainly receive understanding. Jesus has said that he will tell us plainly about the Father. His aim is not to make life as difficult for his followers so that they struggle to discover what God wants of them. Presentation 70
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  • A New Prayer Promise Then, too, the promise of this passage concerns joy, for, says Jesus, "Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete" v24. How does prayer promote joy? One way is that when we get what we ask for this naturally satisfies us and makes us conscious of the great favour of God toward us. But this is only part of the story. The other part is that prayer makes God himself real so that, as we pray and receive what we asked for, God is actually there dispensing the gift and meeting with us at a personal level. Presentation 70
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  • A New Prayer Promise A minister spoke to a woman who was dying. She had cancer and knew that she did not have long to live. They talked about Christ and heaven and about God's purposes in suffering, and then prayed together. The minister prayed fervently and specifically, but afterwards said, she prayed much better. In her prayer she quietly thanked God for his special and very vivid presence with her. She cited several examples, and expressed her joy. It was evident as she prayed that God's presence with her was real and that she rejoiced in him in a way that clearly overshadowed her concern about the cancer. Presentation 70
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  • A New Prayer Promise It is a great joy to stand in God's presence in the name of Jesus and make and receive requests of him. Do you know that joy? If not, then take time to actually come into the presence of God and learn to pray. If you need help, he will certainly help you. He will do so because he loves you and wants to be known by you, as Jesus clearly indicates in v27. What a Saviour! Presentation 70