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. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.
John 16:23-24, 26-28, NIV
Having been intrigued by the prayer life of Jesus, the disciples pressed Him to share with them His secrets of prevailing prayer. In His final discourse on prayer, which came within the context of His Paraclete lessons, Jesus told His disciples that things would be different in their prayer life once the Holy Spirit came upon them. Let us see the four components of New Covenant praying as mentioned by Jesus in His last discourse.
Approaching the Father
“In that day,” said Jesus, “you will no longer ask Me anything.” The phrase “in that day” appears twice in this context, and it refers to the time when the Holy Spirit will come to influence believers, including their praying. When He said, “you will no longer ask Me anything,” Jesus was reminding them that He would not be with them literally and visibly. With the Holy Spirit indwelling and guiding them, they would have no need to turn to Him literally as they had in the past. It would be to their advantage that He depart from them in the flesh in order that He might return to them in the Spirit. With the Holy Spirit in them, the Father and the Son would be approachable at all times and in all circumstances. Jesus assured them, “The Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God” (v.27). No apologies would be necessary in approaching the Father. As His redeemed children, bought by the precious blood of His only begotten Son, none of us are considered to be interrupting or intruding when we come to the Father in prayer.
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
The inspired writer argues here for an approach to the Father that is one of confidence because of our standing in Christ. When we pray, we are not approaching the Father as a stranger or an impostor but as a blood-bought child who is in favor because of Christ and what He did for us. Jesus emphasized boldness in prayer by both example and parables.
In The Name Of Jesus
“I tell you the truth,” said Jesus, “my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (v.23). What a powerful name is the name of Jesus! All true believers have been given this precious name. We have been authorized to pray in His name. So that precious phrase “in Jesus’ name” should fall from our lips and hearts with more reverence and greater appreciation for its true meaning.
Jesus intended His followers to operate in the power of His name, just as any company executive today might delegate authority to his agents for the purpose of conducting company business. The members of the Sanhedrin and the people who lived in Jerusalem soon learned that the same power by which Jesus had conducted His ministry was present with the disciples. It was “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” that Peter and John ordered the crippled beggar at the temple gate to rise up and walk (Acts 3:6). When “instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong” and he went into the temple courts “walking and jumping and praising God”, all the people were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him (vv. 7-10). Peter felt the need to ask the onlookers, “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you and killed the prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. And His name, through faith in His name, (italics added) has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” (Acts 3:12-15).
Peter and John refused to be intimidated by a lesser power than the name of Jesus. So, on release, they joined their fellow apostles and prayed, “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus” (vv. 29-30).
Let the Church today return to the same understanding and use of the precious name of Jesus. We are sent out in His place. We are sent out with His authority. Let us make use of His strong name.
For The Sake of The Kingdom
This discourse takes place within the context of the Great Commission. The Master is preparing His men to take charge following His departure, and there was no doubt in the minds of the disciples that such promises, that the Father would grant anything they would ask in His name, were made in light of their interests and purposes of building His Kingdom. The temptation to use prayer for the building of their own kingdom would come, but the kind of prayer power Jesus promised was for advancing His Kingdom. At some point in our Christian growth, it must be understood that we not only died with Christ in His crucifixion, and we were not only raised with Him in His resurrection; we were also seated with Christ in His enthronement. Such truth is so amazing that the apostle Paul felt he should pray that God would give us “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” and that “the eyes of your understanding be enlightened” (Eph. 1:17-18). Through prayer, we are to participate in the Throne life of our Lord and pray powerful things to pass on behalf of the Kingdom of God.
By The Power Of The Holy Spirit
Our Lord’s promise to His followers that they would know such mighty power in prayer was tied to the coming of the Holy Spirit into their hearts and lives. “In that day” was a repeated reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit, who would make the difference in their praying.
The Holy Spirit enlightens our understanding so that we pray according to the will of God. This will be true for the believer who is humble enough to confess that left to self, we do not know how to pray as we ought (Rom. 8:26). But God be praised, we are not left to ourselves! The Holy Spirit “makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (v. 27).
The Holy Spirit energizes our human spirit so that we do not faint. Prayer is taxing mentally, emotionally and physically. The natural tendency is to make short work of it, to cut it off too early, to quit too soon, to faint away at this most important work. But, again, we are not on our own. The Holy Spirit is with us to quicken us and inspire us to keep at this holy work until we have prayed through and prevailed.
The Holy Spirit emboldens our faith so that we will not be denied. Jesus taught and practiced bold praying. Most of us give up too easily and ask too timidly, as though God were short on resources or preoccupied with too many other projects to be bothered with us. Over a period of time — for we are all subject to the law of growth — it is the purpose of the Holy Spirit to work within our hearts the kind of bold faith that Jesus demonstrated and called for in His followers, the kind that asks largely and receives generously because it refuses to be denied. Those who see that there are no limits on bold praying except the will of God are the ones who truly advance His Kingdom. When the Spirit enlightens us for prayer, and when we draw on His energy for the task, then we must press our claims in the bold manner in which Jesus taught us. We must not take NO for an answer!