John 16:23
In that day you will no longer ask Me anything. Truly, truly, I tell you, whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.
Sermons
In that Day'Alexander MaclarenJohn 16:23
All Questions AnsweredR. W. Evans, B. D.John 16:23-27
Learning to PrayH. J. W. Buxton.John 16:23-27
No Want in the Presence of JesusS. Martin.John 16:23-27
Prayer AnsweredC. H. Spurgeon.John 16:23-27
Prayer in Christ's NameE. L. Hull, B. A.John 16:23-27
Prayer in the Name of ChristR. Besser, D. D.John 16:23-27
Praying in the Name of Jesus ChristJohn 16:23-27
The Characteristics of the Christian AgeT. Whitelaw, D. D.John 16:23-27
What that Day Wilt Bring ForthJohn 16:23-27
The sympathy and the wisdom alike of our Lord's declarations and promises to his disciples upon the eve of his departure, command our warmest admiration. He both felt for those who were about to pass through a trial so severe, and he knew how to minister to their heart's necessities. What a knowledge of human nature is apparent in this simple but most significant promise!

I. THE OCCASIONS UPON WHICH THIS PROMISE WAS FULFILLED.

1. Upon our Lord's resurrection. Had he not taken this very early opportunity of again seeing his own, it is not obvious how their faith and courage could have been sustained. They were depressed almost to despondency by their Lord's Passion and burial. Had he not appeared when he did, it would seem that their confidence in him must have been shaken, and their mutual unity must have been dissolved. But when he saw them, gladness took the place of sorrow, attachment was strengthened, and hope banished despair.

2. The descent of the Spirit was a richer and fuller accomplishment of our Lord's designs of grace towards his Church. He had promised the Comforter, whose coming should keep them from being orphans, abandoned, and friendless in the world. And in the Spirit he himself came again to his own, visiting them in showers of spiritual blessing.

3. The return at the second advent must also have been in the Master's mind when he uttered these gracious words of friendly assurance. His parables and his direct discourses alike animated the breasts of the disciples with this blessed hope. All the more did they rejoice in this prospect, because they were taught that he who had come the first time in humiliation and obedience would come the second time to judge and to reign.

II. THE FULLNESS OF IMPORT AND BLESSING WHICH THIS PROMISE CONTAINS.

1. The assurance that Christ will see his people is even more precious and welcome than the assurance given (in previous verses) that they shall see him. Our religion teaches us to look away from ourselves to God, to rest on his declarations, his faithfulness, his love. Unless we are in a morbid, self-conscious state, it will give us strength and comfort to forget ourselves in order to concentrate our thoughts and desires upon him who holds us dear, and who will never forget and never forsake his own.

2. That Christ will see his people, involves an accession to their happiness. To know that the eye of our dearest friend is resting upon us, and that with interest and approbation, what so fitted as this to send a thrill of joy through all our nature? We are encouraged by the language of the text to think of Christ thus affectionately and (so to speak) in a manner so truly human.

3. That Christ will see his people, assures them of the supply of all their wants. Can our dearest and mightiest Friend see us in danger, and not deliver us? in temptation, and not succor us? in sorrow, and not console us? in need, and not minister to us? For a Being so sympathizing, to see is to pity; for a Being so mighty, to pity is to aid. - T.







And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing.
I. COMPLETE REVELATION

1. The subject: the Father; His nature: God; His character: love; His purpose: salvation.

2. The medium: Christ; the Father's Son, Ambassador, Revealer.

II. ADEQUATE ILLUMINATION.

1. Clear. No longer in proverbs, parables, or veiled forms is the truth presented by the Spirit, but in plain and easy-to-be-understood propositions (ver. 25).

2. Sufficient. Enjoying the Spirit's teaching, the Christian needs not to ask of any external authority (ver. 23; cf. Hebrews 8:11).

III. PERFECT CONCLUSION.

1. On the part of the Christian.

(1)Liberty in prayer. He may ask of the Father anything (vers. 23-26).

(2)Success in prayer — guaranteed by the Christian's plea, Christ's name (vers. 24, 26); the Saviour's intercession (ver. 26); the Father's love (ver. 27).

2. On the part of the Father.

(1)Loving Christ's people (ver. 27).

(2)Granting their requests (ver. 23).

IV. AUGMENTING EXULTATION.

1. The nature of it. The joy of the Christian is always —

(1)Inward.

(2)Spiritual.

(3)Progressive.

(4)Permanent.

2. The cause of it.

(1)The Spirit's indwelling.

(2)The soul's beholding of Christ (ver. 22).

(3)The Father's giving (ver. 23).Lessons:

1. The superiority of the Christian age to all that have preceded.

2. The increased responsibility of all who live in it.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

There are here three jewels which Christ sets in a cluster, the juxtaposition making each brighter, and gives to us for a parting keepsake. Our English word "ask" means two things, either to question in order to get information or to beseech, in order to get gifts. In the former sense the word is employed in the first clause with distinct reference to the disciples' desire to ask Him a very foolish question a moment or two before; and in the second it is employed in the central portion of my text.

I. NO MORE QUESTIONINGS.

1. Do not you think that the disciples would be tempted to say, "Then what are we to do?" To them the thought was despair rather than advance; but in Christ's eyes it was progress. It is better for a boy to puzzle out the meaning of a Latin book by his own brains and a lexicon than lazily to use an interlinear translation. Many eager Christian souls, hungering after certainty and rest, have east themselves into the arms of an infallible pope. I doubt whether any such questioning mind has found what it sought; and I am sure that it has taken a step downwards. We gain by losing the visible Christ.

2. For what have we instead?(1) A completed revelation. Unspeakably precious as were and are the words of Christ, His deeds are far more. The death of Christ has told us things that Christ before His death could not tell. His resurrection has east light upon all the darkest places of man's destiny which before He could not by any words so illuminate. The ascension of Christ has opened doors for thought, for faith, for hope which were fast closed, until He had burst them asunder and passed to His throne. We have a completed revelation, and therefore we need ask Him nothing.(2) A Divine Spirit to teach us by blessing the exercise of our own faculties, and guiding us, not, indeed, into all the intellectual aspects of Christian truth, but into the loving possession, as a power in our lives, of all the truth that we need to raise us to the likeness of Christ.

3. Only remember that such a method of teaching needs that we use that revelation and submit ourselves to the teaching of that Spirit, and make everything that we know a factor in shaping what we do and are. And if we do this we shall not need to envy those that could go to Him with their questions, for He will come to us with His all-satisfying answers.

4. Ah! but you say, look at a divided Christendom and at my own difficulties. Well, as for a divided Christendom, saintly souls are all of one Church. And however they may formulate the intellectual aspects of their creed, when they come to pray they say the same things, and we all sing their songs. So the divisions are like the surface cracks on a dry field, and a few inches down there is continuity. And as for the difficulty of knowing what I am to believe about controverted questions, no doubt there will remain many gaps in the circle of our knowledge and much left obscure; but if we will keep ourselves near the Master, and use the helps that He gives us we shall not walk in darkness, but shall have light enough to be the Light of Life.

II. SATISFIED DESIRES.

1. This second great promise substantially appeared in a former part of these discourses with a very significant difference. "Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name that will I do." "If ye shall ask anything in My name I will do it." There Christ presented Himself as the Answerer, because His purpose was to set forth His going to the Father as His elevation to a yet loftier position. Here He sets forth the Father as the Answerer, because His purpose is to point away from undue dependence on His own corporeal presence. But consider how much is involved in that fact, that, as a matter of course, our Lord alternates the two forms, and sometimes says, "I will do it," and sometimes says, "The Father will do it." Does it not point to that great and blessed truth, "Whatsoever thing the Father doeth that also doeth the Son likewise."

2. But passing from that, note the limitation to the broad universality of the declaration. "If ye shall ask anything in My name." There is the definition of Christian prayer. And what does it mean?(1) Is a prayer which is reeking with self-will hallowed because the man says, as a kind of charm at the end of it, "For Christ's sake. Amen?" Surely not! The name of Christ is His whole revealed character. So these disciples could not pray in His name "hitherto," because His character was not all revealed. Therefore, to pray in His name is to pray recognizing what He is, as revealed in His life and death and resurrection and ascension, and to base all our dependence for acceptance of our prayers upon that revealed character.(2) Are any kind of wishes which are presented in dependence upon Christ certain to be fulfilled? Certainly not! "My name" means exactly what the same phrase means when it is applied to us. If I do something in your name I do it on your behalf, as your representative. And if we pray in Christ's name, that implies the harmony of our wills with His. Heathen prayer is the violent effort to make God will what I wish. Christian prayer is the submissive effort to make my wish what God wills.

3. Notice how certain such prayer is of being answered. If it is in harmony with the will of God, it is sure not to be offered in vain. Our Revised Version reads, "He will give it you in My name." God's gifts come down through the same channel through which our prayer goes up. But, whether that be the true collocation or no, mark the plain principle, that only desires which are in harmony with the Divine will are sure of being satisfied. What is a bad thing for a child cannot be a good thing for a man. If you want to spoil your child you say, "What do you want, my dear? tell me and you shall have it." God knows a great deal better what is good for us; and so He says: "Delight thyself in the Lord, and He will give thee the desires of thine heart." He who prays in Christ's name must pray Christ's prayer, "Not My will but Thine be done." To him who can thus pray, every door in God's treasure-house flies open, and he may take as much of the treasure as he desires. And the Master bends lovingly over such a soul, and says: "What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? Be it unto thee even as thou wilt."

III. THE PERFECT JOY WHICH FOLLOWS UPON THESE TWO. Is it possible, then, that amidst all changes and the sorrows we may have a deep and stable joy? "That your joy may be full," says my text, or "fulfilled," like some jewelled, golden cup charged to the very brim with rich and quickening wine, so that there is no room for a drop more. Was anybody ever so blessed that he could not be more so? Jesus Christ says it may be so, and He tells us how. Bring your desires into harmony with God's, and you will have nothing unsatisfied amongst them; and so you will be blessed to the full. And though sorrow comes, still we may be blessed. There are some flowers which only bloom in the night; and white blossoms are visible with startling plainness in the twilight, when all the flaunting purples and reds are hid. Conclusion: There are only two courses before us. Either a life with superficial, transitory, incomplete gladnesses, and an aching centre of vacuity and pain, or one which in its outward aspects has much about it that is sad and trying, but down in the heart of it is calm and joyful. "Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful," &c. But the "ransomed of the Lord shall return," &c. (A. Maclaren, D.D.)

Many were the questions which the disciples had put to their Lord in the pride and ignorance of their as yet imperfectly spiritualized hearts (see Matthew 18:1; Luke 9:54; Acts 1:6). But our Lord says that in that day, when He shall have given them the Comforter, they shall ask Him no more such questions, for that He should guide them into all truth.

I. THIS PROMISE HAS COME DOWN TO EVERY DISCIPLE OF CHRIST. What question is there that we need to put to our Lord? The grand question of all — "What shall I do to be saved?" has long ago been distinctly answered. But, for the sake of illustration, let us put this question under some of its particulars. Shall a man ask of Christ —

1. "Are my sins forgiven me? answer me by showing me some token of it." He has been answered already. Instead of asking Christ he has to ask his own heart and conscience before Christ. Have they been truly turned unto Him? Is the heart in communion with the Holy Spirit? Is the conscience directed by Christ's Word? Are thus sins forsaken? Then there is at once a plain answer.

2. "Wilt Thou be my Helper and Defender?" He has been answered already. Does he make Christ his Help and Defence, his Rock and his Fortress? Does he use the means which He has furnished? If so, then he has received a clear answer, and needs no other.

3. "Shall I inherit eternal life?" He has been answered already. Is he really seeking eternal life, striving with all his strength to enter in? Are his affections set on the things which are above? If his heart and conscience tell him this, he has had an answer sufficient. Will he tempt Christ by asking twice over?

4. And in the last hour shall a man ask of Christ, "Whither am I going?" He has been answered already most distinctly. Let him ask his own heart and conscience upon which road he has been travelling; where has the Lord found him when the fear of approaching death surprised him. Was he on the narrow road of holiness, or on the broad road of sin? If he will ask this of his heart and conscience they will tell him at once, and may warn him to such repentance as may yet be possible. But if he decline this search, then assuredly instead of having an answer from Christ, who is the Truth, he will have it from the father of lies.

II. SEE, THEREFORE, THE BLESSEDNESS OF THE CHRISTIAN.

1. He has no doubts; the words of his Master are yea and amen, and he has heard them. That is surely but an indifferent servant who requires his orders to be repeated from his master's mouth.

2. He has no perplexities. The direction of the Lord, and the truth and comfort of the Holy Spirit, drive away all darkness and uncertainty.

3. He has no fears, he is a soldier that can both endure hardness and stand in the fight. He is content to await in patience the sign of the Son of Man, and meanwhile gathers clearer and clearer answers from a heart and conscience well questioned, daily examined.

III. THUS WE SHALL PROCEED IN A WAY OF PREPARATION FOR THE LAST SEARCHING EXAMINATION, when we shall have to give answers to our Lord and Judge concerning all that He hath given and taught us. All questioning will then be openly on His side, and all answering openly also on ours. Even the prayer of our petitions will then cease, for there will be nothing left to ask for in that day. Only the prayer of praise, adoration, and thanksgiving shall remain, and that shall remain for all eternity.

(R. W. Evans, B. D.)

Why does Christ's personal presence in heaven, now that He is glorified, take away the necessity for prayer in the case of the glorified? Because —

I. GOD IS IN CHRIST, AND GOD IS AN OPEN FOUNTAIN OF GOOD TO EVERY BEING IN FRIENDSHIP WITH HIM. Who asks for water when he is standing by a fountain? Who asks for light when the summer sun at the meridian is shining upon him? And who asks to be blessed when God fully blesses him?

II. CHRIST'S LOVE FOR HIS DISCIPLES IS SUCH THAT HE CANNOT BE WITH THEM WITHOUT FILLING THEM WITH GOOD. When "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," He could never be with His disciples without blessing them. How much more now in His state of glorification! Because the crown of Christ is as much yours as His Cross. He died for you, and it is an equally glorious truth that He lives for you. So it is utterly impossible that you can lack, when with Christ, any good thing.

III. THE MINISTRATIONS OF THE SAVIOUR, WHEN OUR HEARTS ARE RIGHT, AS THEY WILL BE VERY SOON, CANNOT FAIL TO SATISFY US. At present even God, the Father of all, does not please you. You have made a sort of calculation of what God should give you in the shape of temporal good. If that be given, you are pleased and thankful, but if that be withheld, you murmur. Why? Because you do not trust the Giver. In the degree of your love and trust, you see that "all things work together for good."

IV. PRAYER CAN ONLY BE MADE IN WANT. Prayer is asking God to supply our need. Now, when all our need is supplied, the necessity for prayer is, of course, taken away. Prayer is not consistent with a perfect state of being. It is the cry of infancy. You will in heaven be men. Prayer is the call of helplessness and the wail of sorrow. But "in that day Christ will open Himself to you as a fountain of good, and then ye shall ask nothing." Meetness for that place consists in the spirit of praise, and not in the spirit of prayer. Conclusion:

1. Persevere in prayer even when prayer is hard work, for the labour and agony connected with prayer are only temporal. Great burthens are easily carried if we be only told that we have to carry them over a short distance. Shortly, you will have everything you can desire.

2. Anticipate joyously the future. You will have, most likely, a night of tribulation to go through, but born of that night will be the brightest of days.

(S. Martin.)

Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name He will give it you.
I. WHAT IT IS TO PRAY IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST. Negatively, it is not a bare mentioning His name in prayer, and concluding our prayers therewith (Matthew 7:21). We must begin, carry on, and conclude our prayers in the name of Christ (Colossians 3:17). The saints use the words, "through Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:57); but the virtue is not in the words, but in the faith wherewith they are used. But, alas these are often produced as an empty scabbard, while the sword is away. Positively: we may take it up in these four things.

1. We must go to God at Christ's command, and by order from Him (Matthew 18:20). If a poor body can get a recommendation from a friend to one that is able to help him, he comes with confidence and tells such a one has sent me to you. Christ is such a friend (ver. 24). This implies —(1) The soul's being come to Christ in the first place (chap. John 15:7).(2) That, however, believers in Christ are relieved of the burden of total indigence (John 4:14), yet while they are in the world they are still compassed with wants. In heaven they shall be set down at the fountain; but now the law of the house is, "Ask, and ye shall receive" (Matthew 7:7).(3) That Christ sends His people to God by prayer for the supply of their wants. This He does by His word, commanding them to go, and by His Spirit inclining them to go (Ephesians 2:18).(4) That acceptable prayer is performed under the sense of the command of a God in Christ (Isaiah 33:22), where majesty and mercy are mixed in it; and that is son-like service.(5) That the acceptable petitioner's encouragement to pray is from Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16).

2. We must pray for Christ's sake, as our motive to the duty (Mark 9:41). This implies —(1) A high esteem of Christ (1 Peter 2:7), for God is honoured in His Son (John 5:23).(2) Complying with the duty out of love to Christ (Hebrews 6:10).(3) Complying with the duty out of respect to His honour and glory.(4) Doing it with heart and good-will (Isaiah 64:5).

3. We must in prayer act in the strength of Christ.(1) What this pre-supposes.

(a)That praying acceptably is a work quite beyond any power in us (2 Corinthians 3:5).

(b)That there is a stock of grace and strength in Jesus Christ for our help as to other duties, so for this duty of prayer (2 Corinthians 12:9; Colossians 1:19).

(c)Sinners are welcome to partake of this stock of grace and strength in Christ (2 Timothy 2:1).

(d)We must be united to Christ as members to the head and branches to the vine, if we would act in prayer or any other duty in the strength of Christ (John 15:5). We cannot partake of the stock of grace and strength for duty in Christ without partaking of Himself (Romans 8:32). As the soul in a separate state cloth not quicken the body, so the soul not united to Christ cannot be fitted for duty by strength derived from Him. The graft must knit with the stock ere it can partake of the sap.(2) Wherein acting in prayer in the strength of Christ lies.

(a)The soul's going out of itself for strength to the duty; that is, renouncing all confidence in itself for the right management of it (2 Corinthians 3:5).

(b)The soul's going to Christ for strength to duty by trusting on Him for it (Isaiah 26:4; Psalm 71:16).

4. We must pray for Christ's sake, as the only procuring cause of the success of our prayers.(1) What is pre-supposed in this.

(a)That sinners in themselves are quite unacceptable in heaven, even in their religious duties (Proverbs 15:8; Isaiah 64:6).

(b)Christ is most acceptable there (Matthew 3.; Ephesians 5:2).

(c)Sinners are warranted to come to the throne of grace in His name (Hebrews 4:15, 16; 1 John 2:1). The petitions put into His hand cannot miscarry.(2) Wherein this praying to God for Christ's sake consists.

(a)In general, in our relying on the Lord Jesus only for the success of our prayers in heaven. Consider that we are in this matter to rely on Him only for access to God in our prayers (Ephesians 3:12; John 14:6). For acceptance of our prayers (Ephesians 1:6). For the gracious answer of prayer, and consider how we are to eye Christ as the object of this reliance — viz., as our great High Priest (Hebrews 4:15, 16). And here we find the infinite merit of His sacrifice (Romans 3:25), and His never-failing intercession to rely on (Hebrews 7:25).

(b)More particularly, praying in the name of Christ, and for His sake consists in renouncing all merit and worth in ourselves, in point of access, acceptance, and gracious answer (Genesis 32:10); believing that however great the mercies are, and however unworthy we are, yet we may obtain them from God through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:15, 16). In seeking in prayer the mercies we need of God for Christ's sake accordingly (John 16:24). In pleading His merit and intercession (Psalm 84:9); in trusting that we shall obtain a gracious answer for His sake (Mark 11:24).

III. WHY ACCEPTABLE PRAYER MUST BE IN THE NAME OF CHRIST. Because —

1. Sinners can have no access to God without a Mediator, and there is no other Mediator but He (Isaiah 59:2; 1 Timothy 2:5).

2. The promises of the covenant were all made to Jesus Christ, as the party who fulfilled the condition of the covenant (Galatians 3:16).

3. Our praying in the name of Christ is a part of the reward of Christ's voluntary humiliation for God's glory and the salvation of sinners (Philippians 2:9, 10).

4. It is not consistent with the honour of God to give Sinners a favourable hearing otherwise (John 9:31, with 2 Corinthians 5:19, 21). They dishonour God, His Son, and His mercies, that ask anything but in the name of Christ.

5. Nothing can savour with God that comes from a sinner, but what is perfumed with the merit and intercession of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15; Ephesians 1:6).

6. The stated way of all gracious communication between heaven and earth is through Jesus Christ, who opened a communication between them by His blood, when it was blocked up by the breach of the first covenant (John 14:6).

IV. PRACTICAL IMPROVEMENT.

1. From this doctrine we learn —(1) What a holy God we have to do with in prayer (Leviticus 10:3). His very throne of grace, from which He breathes love and good-will to sinners, is founded on justice and judgment (Psalm 89:14).(2) Let us prize the love of Christ in making an entrance for us into the holy place, through the veil of His flesh (Hebrews 10:20). The flaming sword of justice, which guarded the way to the tree of life, was bathed in His blood, to procure us access to God.(3) There can be no acceptable praying to God but by believers united to Christ having on the garment of His righteousness (John 9:31).(4) Even believers cannot pray in the name of Christ, and so not acceptably, without faith in exercise (Galatians 2:20).(5) We have great need not to be rash in our approaches to God in prayer, but that we prepare our hearts and compose them aforehand for such a solemn duty (Ecclesiastes 5:1).

2. Let those stand reproved who —(1) Make approach unto God in prayer, as an absolute God, without consideration of the Mediator (John 5:23; Ephesians 2:18).(2) Put other things in the room of the Mediator, or join other things with Him.

(a)Their own worth in respect of their qualifications and good things done by them (Luke 18:11, 12).

(b)The mercy of God considered without a view to the satisfaction of His justice by the Mediator.

(c)The manner of their performing the duty itself (Isaiah 58:3).

(d)Their own necessity (Hosea 7:14).

3. Wherefore rely on Christ, and on Him only, for access to God in, and acceptance of, your prayers; that is, pray in the name of Christ.(1) In this way of praying ye may obtain anything ye really need.(2) There is no access to God, nor acceptance of prayer another way (chap. John 14:6).

(T. Boston, D. D.)

I. THE DIFFICULTIES WHICH ALL PRAYER SUGGESTS.

1. One cause of these is to be found in the variations of our inner life, Our faith in the spiritual is at some moments so full of power that thoughts too large for words ascend to the Eternal in unclothed aspirations. And at other times it is so weak and dead that we doubt whether it has not altogether vanished to return no more. Thus there are times when to pray is the hardest of all tasks; when God appears to be far off. Chilled thus by the world of sense, the fire of devotion frequently appears to have almost died out, having left only cold ashes on the altar of the heart.

2. But apart from these changes of the inner life, there are two great difficulties surrounding every act of prayer.(1) Look at prayer for material blessings. If we believe that such prayer will be answered we are constantly met by the awful thought that God has ordered eternally all the circumstances of life for the best and wisest ends. Under the pressure of that fact, look at the cries of prayer — the utterances of the child of yesterday, whose life is but a span, who knows not what he really is, nor what he really wants! Can we believe that they will be answered? — that they will bring the blessings they crave?(2) Again, we know that God's love cannot be deepened. Is not God always giving? Does He need the utterance of our wants when He detects the secret desire in the heart trembling into words?

II. THE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN PRAYER. We shall perceive how both the difficulties we have noticed vanish before the true meaning of Christ's promise. The word "whatsoever" must be taken simply and literally. The words "in My name" must be taken as simply and literally; for they explain the "whatsoever."

1. The words "in My name" refer to the new meaning which Christ had given to prayer.(1) Men in old time had cried earnestly to God under the pressure of the struggles and doubts of life, but they could not pray in the Christian sense. To them there often seemed to be two great powers in the universe — the divine and the evil, and in their darkness they cried to Him whom they felt was true, though they understood not how. Christ came into the world to reveal what God was and to explain His plan. He showed that God was willing all good to His creatures, and overcoming all evil — that the eternal love was shining behind all the clouds of suffering and sorrow. Here, then, was a new revelation of the meaning of prayer. Men were not to pray because they hoped to change God's plan, but because God's plan was the wisest and most loving. They were not to pray with the idea of inducing God to become kind, but because He was kind.(2) Again, men in the old time were often tempted to fancy that God was far off, and cared little for their necessities; Christ revealed God as everywhere — working in every life, searching every soul. Because God knew their wants, men were to ask. Because He was love, they were to pray. To pray not with the notion of changing God's plan, but because that plan is the best. Hence we see at once that many prayers are not Christian. For instance, men ask for success: do they mean they cannot forego their desires — that they cannot confront failure? If so, can they thus pray in His name who renounced Himself, and whose career, judged by man's standard, was a mighty failure? Or do they, because they believe God is all-wise, ask to be able to bear success if it be His will it should come, and if not, to be enabled to stand failure? — that is to pray in Christ's name. Men ask for happiness: do they mean that they are afraid of sorrow — they cannot bear the Cross? If so, can they pray that prayer in the name of Him who gave up all happiness for man, who endured the Cross and the shame, who, because it was the Father's will, bore all sorrow and made it holy? Or do they mean, "enable Me to bear happiness or sorrow?" — "If it be possible let sorrow pass from Me — nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt." That is to pray in Christ's name.

2. Prayer in Christ's name clears away the two great difficulties to which I have referred.(1) It brings us into harmony with God's eternal plan. I do not believe that God changes. The sceptic asks, "Does God ever stop the working of His laws to save the man who prays?" No; but a Divine influence may prepare him to receive whatever comes.(2) It prepares us to receive God's noblest gifts of love. It does not make Him more loving, but it fits us to obtain what He is willing to bestow. In the highest sense a man can only receive what he feels he needs.

(E. L. Hull, B. A.)

A wealthy heir presents thee with a cheque, signed with his name, for a sum of money, which thou art to fetch from his father. Without the cheque thou wouldest receive nothing, for the father of the heir knows nothing of thy name; but because he sees written there the name of his son he presents thee with the whole amount which his son has commissioned thee to receive. In like manner has the Lord Jesus given to His people a cheque of prayer upon the love of His Father, which they must present to Him — a blank page (charta blanca) as Spener says. At the bottom His holy name stands written; the upper part we ourselves must fill up with our prayers; the Father will honour the draft to the whole amount for the sake of His dear Son; because whatever we are minded to ask in the name of Jesus, the Father will give us.

(R. Besser, D. D.)

Some years ago, a poor woman accompanied by two of her neighbours, came to my vestry in deep distress. Her husband had fled the country; in her sorrow she went to the house of God, and something I said in the sermon made her think I was personally familiar with her case. Of course I had known nothing about her. It was a general illustration that fitted a particular case. She told me her story, and a sad one it was. I said, "There is nothing that we can do but to kneel down and cry to the Lord for the immediate conversion of your husband." We knelt down, and I prayed that the Lord would touch the heart of the deserter, and convert his soul, and bring him back home. When we rose, I said to the poor woman, "Do not fret about the matter. I feel sure your husband will come home, and that he will yet become connected with our church." She went away, and I forgot all about it. Some months after, she re-appeared with her neighbours, and a man whom she introduced to me as her husband. He had, indeed, come back, and a converted man. On making inquiry and comparing notes, we found that, on the very day on which we had prayed for his conversion, he, being at that time on board a ship far away on the sea, stumbled most unexpectedly upon a stray copy of one of my sermons. He read it, the truth went to his heart. He repented and sought the Lord, and as soon as possible, returned to his wife and his daily calling. He was admitted a member, and his wife, who up to that time had not been a member, was also received among us. That woman does not doubt the power of prayer.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

We must be taught how to pray just as we must be taught how to walk. Sometimes when a Child comes home from school, after a long and expensive education, the parent finds that he has learnt nothing aright. He has been taught arithmetic, yet he cannot work a single rule properly. He has been taught music, yet he plays without feeling, and incorrectly. He has been taught to draw, yet an artist detects at once that he does not know the very A B C of art. In religion the same thing often occurs. There are people who have "said their prayers" all through life, and, perhaps, never really prayed once. They have got into a habit of using certain words, without thinking of their meaning, and so have become mere machines, like those musical boxes which reel off their fixed number of tunes, and then are silent. There are thousands of letters posted every year which end in the dead letter office, either because they are wrongly directed, or not directed at all, and there are thousands of dead prayers which never reach God for the same reason. Then there are prayers which ask for wrong things, or they ask in a wrong way, and so they are wasted. You know that every man in a high office receives a vast number of letters, many of them very foolish, and even wicked. But he is far too wise to answer them. Think how many improper, foolish, and even downright wicked prayers are addressed to the All-wise God! Can we wonder that He does not answer them?

I. HOW TO PRAY. What is meant by asking in Christ's name? Well, it means this. If a warrant, or other legal document is to take effect, it must be endorsed by the name of some one in authority, otherwise it is so much waste paper. So our prayers must be endorsed, so to speak, with the name of Jesus. He must consider them fit to be offered in His name., or they are useless. Have not some of you prayed, looking upon God's mercy and grace as a sort of lottery, where you may draw a prize, but where you rather expect a blank? Such faithless prayers cannot have the name of Jesus attached to them, they cannot be accepted. Our Lord never worked a miracle unless the person asking for help showed faith. Then there are prayers, so full of self that there is no room for Jesus in them. He has given us a pattern prayer — "Not as I will but as Thou wilt." With us too often it is just the other way: "My will bedone." We must lighten our prayers by casting out self if they are to rise to the throne of God. Again, there are prayers which seem unanswered because we have asked amiss. If we ask our Heavenly Father for bread, He will not give us a stone. But often, like foolish children, we ask him for a stone, or a scorpion. Instead of allowing our conscience to lead us, we follow conscience as a man follows a wheelbarrow, driving it on before him. Above all, prayer must have love in it. There was a little boy once whose mother lay ill in the hospital. The child fancied his mother would not have left him if she had loved him, and determined to send her a letter, and find out. He was quite unable to write, but he scrawled all over the paper, as little children will, and begged his friends to carry it to his mother, "then," said he. "I shall see if she loves me." The messenger laughed at the strange letter, and declared that no one could make it out, "Mother will understand," said the child. And when Eddie's scrawl was given to her, she recognized at once the work of her child's fingers, and understood his meaning. My brothers, our prayers are often as badly put together as Eddie's scrawl, but the good God knows His children's meaning.

II. WHEN TO PRAY —

1. Always. Do not wait to go to church, or till bed. time, or rising-time; these are special occasions, the general time for prayer is all day long. A Christian man who believes in prayer, ought to be able to speak to God anywhere. We should not hear so much about bad servants, and dishonest traders, if men would only pray over their work. The man who could really pray in his place of business would not be able to tell a lie over the counter. A man with a prayer in his mouth would have no room for an oath, or a bad story. Let the people who lose their temper so easily, and say words which they bitterly repent, pray more frequently, and the bitter words would be turned into blessing.

2. Then there are special occasions when we need to pray for a special object —(1) In all cases of danger and difficulty. When Jehoshaphat was besieged by his enemies, he prayed solemnly to God for guidance. The Romans of old never undertook a war, or any serious matter, without consulting an oracle. Our oracle is the living God, and whenever we are in doubt, or difficulty, or danger, let us ask God about it.(2) On every occasion when we have to make an important choice, let us pray about it, even as Jesus prayed before He chose His disciples, and the apostles before the election of Matthias. There would not be so many unhappy marriages, discontented workers, and wrong men in wrong places, if we would pray before making a solemn choice.(3) Whenever we take a journey, let us pray about it, as St. Paul did at Miletus, before he set out on his perilous voyage to Rome. For my own part, I never enter a railway carriage without a prayer, and I advise you to do the like, then, come what will, we have put the matter in God's hands.

(H. J. W. Buxton.)

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