Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Refresh: Open with prayer. Read or listen to Psalm 66:13-16.
Read: John 14:1-14 (ESV). As you re-read the text for the final time this week in the English Standard Version, what new insights did you discover about God’s character?
Reflect: Edward W. Klink III in the Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament - John page 62,3-624 tackles our understand of prayer in the context of this passage with a surprising challenge for us.
It is unfortunate that many use 14:13-14 and (16:23) as an unconditional pledge that every believer’s prayer, of whatever content, will be heard and answered by God. yet the language must be understood in its immediate context. Two things can be stated in this regard. First, the pint is not to suggest that the believer has a new and more powerful resource in God, but that Jesus is not withdrawing from them by his departure but in fact by means of his departure is even more present - and more powerfully so! Second, the kind of prayers believers should ask is also presented by this statement. They should pray in a manner befitting the mission of God (denoted by the “works” the believer will do in v.12) and the character of God (denoted by the use of “in his name” v.13). Prayers expecting results outside of these parameters are not prayers at all but commands and area outside the bounds of the disciple of Jesus Christ. This final promise is not about the pursuit of self-seeking permission from God but is an invitation to participate in the fullness of life in God through Christ and by the Spirit.
When a Christian prays then, they are agreeing to trust not only in God’s sovereign and authoritative resources but also in God’s perfect and providential results. What make the prayer Christian and not pagan is that God is not used to fulfill the desires of the person who prays, but rather the person who prays submits his or her will to both the power and purpose of God. A Christian prayer is a paradox in that it seeks from God what one simultaneously surrenders to God. Asking from God therefore is also letting go. It is letting God be God over all things (Rom 11:36), even the things we want (or need) the most.
Respond: Pray for God’s will to be done in your life.
Research: Read one of the recommended commentaries on this passage.