We Christianshave the privilege of open communication with the Father simply because we have come to love and believe in Jesus. We have both the privilege of the Father’s ear and the intercession of Christ on our behalf. So long as we have an Advocate (Paraclete/Holy Spirit), we have direct communion with the Father in Jesus’ name.
Should fellowship with God be interrupted by sin, then Jesus’ advocacy needs to be kicked into action by us (i.e. via Confession).
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By Tim Trainor
Our Gospel for today is from John and it contains some verses that are not straight forward and easy to understand but, they are full of meaning. So let's get busy massaging some spiritual truths out of them!
I think that the gist of the first part of this reading:
“Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Until now I have been with you, so that you could ask Me directly (for things you need like: answers to questions, healings, etc.). After the Resurrection, once I enter my glory, at the right hand of the Father, you will be able to go to and ask the Father directly in My name (for these same things), and you will receive what you need.”
In Old Testament Hebrew thought, one's name stood for that person. To pray in Jesus' name means to pray with his commission, his authority, and in his will. It has similarities to our concept of "power of attorney." Notice the progression in these following verses as Jesus lays out a three step process for 'Asking in His Name.'
1. Ask Jesus. "And I will do whatever you ask in my name....You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it."
2. Ask How? "If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, (this 'remain' business sounds like a relationship condition that must be met before the wish will be granted). So, remain (and then) ask whatever you wish, which, to me, sounds just like the “Thy will be done” portion of The Our Father Prayer that Jesus constructed and gave to us! A chance occurrence? I think not!
3. God Acts. "Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name."
Jesus' primary teaching here seems to be that we are to first align our will with His and then ask the Father in His name. Jesus certainly addressed His prayers directly to the Father. But in 14:14, Jesus says his disciples can ask Him for anything, though in 16:23, Jesus, appears to be looking forward to the period after his resurrection, says, "In that day you will no longer ask Me anything," but rather speak directly to the Father in His (Jesus') name.
Now to the portion that I found most hard to grasp, which was verse 16.
“On that day you will ask in My name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loves you ...”
The figure of speech that initially threw me was the phrase, “I do not tell you ...” The statement about asking the Father on the disciples' behalf can be interpreted in two ways. One is that Jesus means He "will not" make requests to God the Father, meaning they can ask God the Father directly. The other option is that Christ means that His requests on their behalf go without saying. "I don't have to tell you that He will know without Me telling Him because I will then always be sitting right next to Him and anything you say to Me will have already been said in His presence!"
Both have support from the surrounding Gospel context, though the first idea of direct communication with God better fits the way subsequent Scripture describes the relationship between a believer and God the Father.
Also, Jesus might have been clarifying a possible misunderstanding on the part of the apostles. The apostles might have thought they could not pray to God the Father directly (like Jesus did) because the Father was, so to speak, indifferent to them. The idea that Jesus wanted to get across to them was that the Father indeed loved them in His own volition.
We Christianshave the privilege of open communication with the Father simply because we have come to love and believe in Jesus. We have both the privilege of the Father’s ear and the intercession of Christ on our behalf. So long as we have an Advocate (Paraclete/Holy Spirit), we have direct communion with the Father in Jesus’ name. Should fellowship with God be interrupted by sin, then Jesus’ advocacy needs to be kicked into action by us (i.e. via Confession).
In my research I found that Verse 26 is a significant teaching that concerns some of our Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters who have a long-standing miss-placed tradition of praying only to various saints (other than the Virgin Mary) who will intercede for them before God. The reasoning sometimes is that, because of a Saint's great piety (which is deemed greater than the person praying), God will listen to that Saint and answer prayers (they reason) for the Saint's sake, because God might not listen to me and answer my prayers directly due to my sins.
A problem could arise when prayer to a saint becomes ones normal prayer life, rather than an occasional exception. When devotion focuses on one of the worthy saints, it might take away from the devotion that we should offer to God. This cannot happen with prayers to Mary, as Saint Louis de Montfort points out in his book True Devotion to Mary.
As you recall, the phrase, "To Jesus Through Mary" rose to prominence through his teachings. He used these words to explain that devotion to Mary is the best way to grow closer to Jesus because Mary will always lead us to her Son. We can also count upon Mary's response to the Wine Steward at the Wedding Feast at Cana. “Do whatever He (Jesus) Says.” (John 2:5) That’s how Mary is going to reply to our prayer requests!
The Catechism points out that the one to whom we most pray is the one with whom we most build a relationship, an attachment. So it is important that we follow Jesus' teaching here as our normal pattern of prayer, prayer to the Father in Jesus' name. Remember, (and this is the important point here) "the Father himself loves you dearly." Never be shy around Him!
So, the attitude that Jesus wants of us is stated in Hebrews 4:16. "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Jesus tells us that when we are already closely related in love and faith with Him and the Father, our prayer through Jesus is not to tell God something He does not know already. Rather it is to help make us aware of what our real needs are, to separate them from our wants and to bring this trimmed down list to the Father. Prayer should help us focus.
Our passage tells says Father already loves us, because we have loved Jesus and have believed that He came from God. Our Father, we need to remember, already knows all our needs and he wants to satisfy them for us out of His love for us.
For the Apostle John, love and faith are always closely linked, the two sides of our relationship with God. Like the Apostles, my faith and my love are not perfect, but I do try to do my best. I believe that is enough like it was for the apostles. Thank goodness, His love for me is perfect and without limits! Each of us should stay with the great mystery of the love that The Father has for us, and ask for more love and faith in Him on our behalf.
Now onto Joy. Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”
There are so many things I never asked for and yet received. I never asked for life. I never asked to be a healthy man. I never asked to fall in love; to be married; to be a Christian; to be a Catholic; to have children; or to have grandchildren. I never asked for any of these great blessings, and yet, I received them all.
The one thing that I did manage to do right about all-of-them was say thank-you for each and every one of them!
I am sure that if I put my mind to it right this very moment, I could think of so many other things I have received and many people would not necessarily consider them to be a blessing to be asked for. But I won’t turn them away. I won’t because I don’t know. I don’t know if the bad I have seen or the bad I have experienced has not been a blessing in disguise. Time will tell. Eternity will answer this question.
Reflecting upon your asked for and unasked for blessings can be a humbling process. But that’s a very good place to start. Be humble. Ask in His name. Speak His name. Why not? What do you have to lose?
I am reminded again of all the great Things/Blessings in my life, that I mentioned above, most of which I had never asked for but have been gifted with. I enjoy taking time on my walks to consider them and how God has answered my asked and un-asked prayers, thus allowing my joy (as He promised in our Scripture reading) to be complete.
“ Our Father already knows all our needs and he wants to satisfy them for us in His love (if we will but align our will with His).”
“Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete”.