A myHT Fortress

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ask, That Your Joy May Be Full: A Homily for Rogate

John 16:23-33

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24.)

“I believe in the power of prayer!” Oh really?! Stop and think about that statement for a moment. “I believe in the power of prayer.” If that is the case, in what or whom are you placing your faith?

Take time to consider the doers of the verbs. If you are the one praying, and you believe in the power of prayer, you are believing in your own words, and thus, your faith is in yourself! Good heavens! Did you catch that?! You have just made yourself a god!

The cancer patient sits at her computer, and is amazed at emails coming from all over the world. Friends, and friends of friends, have placed her on prayer chains all over the globe. She receives great comfort in that. But are her chances of beating the disease increased, simply because she has thousands upon thousands praying for her, as if it’s better to have more people trying to twist God’s arm? God is going to be gracious in comforting and caring for her, out of His mercy, not because she has some magic meter measuring prayer content.

When you believe you can make God do what you want, you are offending Him and sin arrogantly. As you pray for luxuries and advantages or other selfish things that are not kind or beneficial to others, are you really praying for the right things? When you try to strike up bargains with God and ask for grades you don’t deserve, or job perks or complements that others deserve, are you asking in faith?

The Lord wants you to pray, to be sure. He wants you to ask in faith for the blessings of forgiveness, life, and salvation. He desires that you ask Him for the protecting and providing that He gives as your Divine Shepherd. He wants to give you all things as He describes in the Lord’s Prayer.

Your life is to be a life of prayer. “Pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) God says through Saint Paul. Constantly you are to thank and praise Him, intercede for the needs of others, and ask for what is needed to sustain you in body and soul.

Do you do that? Do you ask perfectly and constantly? Is it with pure faith and love, and holy intentions? No.

But Jesus does! Christ our High Priest prays perfectly and constantly. “Christ Jesus is the One who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34.) What an amazing and comforting promise! Jesus who died and rose for you, now prays for you! He asks the Father on your behalf! He died to purchase and win forgiveness and life for you. He lives and reigns as He delivers them to you. And He prays for you, that the Father would send everything you need for salvation – and along the way, He gifts you with many blessings in this body and life.

And as we pray, the Lord answers what we ask, and more. Take Zechariah for example. He was in the Temple, praying for the Lord to send the Messiah. God sends the Angel Gabriel to say He was answering that prayer, and what’s more, He would send the son that Zechariah and his wife always wanted.

The Lord not only answers your prayers in providing the needs you have, but grants the forgiveness, mercy, and love whose need you might not even have realized or desired. God gives the gift of repentance and works a renewal of faith in your heart, as He answers Jesus’ prayers for you!

For centuries, the Church around the world has celebrated Rogate, this 6th Sunday of Easter, as a day to rejoice in calling on the Lord in prayer, especially asking His blessing on the fruits of the earth. The Holy Spirit has called you by the Gospel. At Baptism He gave you the right to call on God as His children. Now the Father in heaven hears you as His baptized children, a delights to have you call on Him “as dear children ask their dear father.”

When people mistakenly say they believe in the power of prayer, the better understanding is to say: “The Holy Spirit has given me belief and trust in the mercy of God, and that our merciful Savior tells us to ask the Father through Him.” The power is not in the prayer. In fact, the amazing quality of it all is not even “power.”

Far more amazing and awesome is the merciful love of God, and how He gives to us, both good and bad things, that our faith may be strengthened and that we may experience His love and grace. God may or may not answer your prayers in the way you desire, but He always answers the prayers of Christians. He wants you to ask Him for all that you need, and then you will witness the great and wondrous ways He delivers His grace and keeps His promises. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24.) Amen.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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