Messages from Pastor Raddatz

May 22, 2022, Mount Olive Lutheran, Houston TX, Other texts: Acts 16:9-15 & Revelation 21:9-14


MAIN IDEA: Go to God with everything.  He has overcome the world.

Thursday, May 5, was the National Day of Prayer.  It was created over 60 years ago by a joint resolution of Congress and signed into law by President Harry Truman.  This resolution is privately funded.  The nation is called upon to intercede for the nation and the seven centers of power: 1-Government, 2-Military, 3-Media, 4-Business, 5-Education, 6-Church, and 7-Family.  Can you make people pray by making it a law? Just because a something is a law does not move people to prayer

Jesus spoke about prayer in today’s Gospel reading: John 16:23-33

The Key Verses: I would like us to examine are vss. 23 & 24 

John 16:23 - “… I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” (NIV)

John 16:24 – “… Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (NIV)

What do you pray about?   There have been some public surveys done where people have answered this question.  People pray about: WORLD PEACE, HEALING AND HELP for OTHER people.  The Bible calls us to pray by: INTERCESSION for others, CONFESSION of our sins, PRAISE for God’s goodness and forgiveness AND IMPRECATORY prayers that God would discipline our enemies.

  • What is prayer?  

            See Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord… 

Prayer is speaking to God with our words and thoughts, (LSC, p. 169, 1986 edition).  God wants us to pray to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  As Lutherans we probably have more meetings where we get together to discuss a subject and give our opinions about a subject.  Other denominations probably have less of these meetings than us, but they have more prayer meetings than most Lutheran Churches.   I think we could learn a thing or two from churches that have “prayer meetings.  

What is the benefit of such corporate prayer?   We seek help and information from God and formation from God through prayer than through a meeting of sharing opinions.  Why?   Because when we are in prayer we desire to pray in the name of Jesus and not according to our name or our agenda.

You have probably seen “The Praying Hands.”  The story behind this piece can help us understand the importance of perseverance in prayer.  Prayer is a bond that keeps us close to those who are on our mind and heart.  Prayer helps us thank God for friends and family even when the problems of life keep coming.  

From childhood Albrecht Durer wanted to paint. Finally, he left home to study with a great artist. He met a friend who also had this same desire and the two became roommates. Both being poor, they found it difficult to make a living and study at the same time. Albrecht’s friend offered to work while Albrecht studied. Then when the paintings began to sell he would have his chance. After much persuasion, Albrecht agreed and worked faithfully while his friend toiled long hours to make a living. 

 The day came when Albrecht sold a woodcarving and his friend went back to his paints, only to find that the demanding work has stiffened and twisted his fingers and he could no longer paint with skill. When Albrecht learned what had happened to his friend, he was filled with great sorrow. One day returning home unexpectedly he heard the voice of his friend and saw the gnarled, toil worn hands folded in prayer before him. 

 “I can show the world my appreciation by painting his hands as I see them now, folded in prayer.” It was this thought that inspired Albrecht Durer when he realized that he could never give back to his friend the skill which had left his hands. 

 Durer’s gratitude was captured in his inspired painting that has become world famous. And we are blessed by both the beauty of the painting and the beautiful story of gratitude and brotherhood. 

—The Bible Friend

  • What does it mean to pray: “in the name of Jesus”?

            See John 2:23 in ancient times, an individual’s name summed up the whole person & John 14:13, Praying in accordance with that entire person is.

What I want to emphasize here is Jesus who prays for us.  If you look at your bible in John 14-17, most of the letters are in red.  These are the words of Jesus.  When a Pastor talks about prayer there is usually an inherent expectation that we should pray more than we do.  But we tend to forget that God prays for us.  Specifically in John 16, in reference to the Holy Spirit.  See also Romans 8:26-27, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans and utterings that word’s cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit interceded for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”  NIV

To pray in the name of Jesus means that we pray according to God’s will.  This means that our will is second to God’s will.  God’s desires or will are expressed in the Bible.  He wants us to pray according to what is important to him and not just important to us and our will. 

As we glance at the life of Jesus, we see what is important to him:

  • Matthew 22:36, THE GREATEST COMMAND, when Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?”  He responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • Luke 19:10, Jesus came to do the will of his father, by seeking and saving the lost.   1 Timothy 1:15, Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst.
  • He wanted to please his heavenly father over the expectations of all others.
  • What does Jesus mean by “…your joy will be complete”?

            See John 15:11, Jesus desires that our disposition (of joy and peace) be determined through faith that he has given us victory over the world.

Even when we are plagued by trouble or trouble haunts our friends and family, God wants us to CONTINUE TO lift them up in prayer.   How long should we pray about something?  Endlessly or non-stop is the best way to pray about something.  Especially when a situation does not change God, wants us to pray continuously.  

Jesus invites us to pray as often as we can.  We have THE LORD’S PRAYER from his own mouth.  We have his word which guides us to pray according to his will.  He calls us to cast our cares on him because he cares for us. What do we do about our enemies?   He will discipline our enemies because he rules over the universe.  Therefore he calls us to pray for our enemies.  A common theme in this section is, “You have heard that it was said … But I tell you.” Jesus does not negate Old Testament law; He expands it and deepens it. He closes the loopholes that a legalistic interpretation seeks to find by applying the Law to the heart.  See Matthew 5:48f

His invitation to pray is better than any Law. His guiding principles should govern the lives of believers. I pray for you, and I ask you to please pray for me that in God’s name we would be faithful unto death to Jesus.  Thank God that Jesus on the cross prayed, “Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.”

God knows what he is doing.  He forgives us. His spirit prays for you, Romans 8:26.  Thank him that you have victory over the world and the victory is our through Jesus Christ.  Amen.   

To God Be The Glory,

Pastor John Raddatz

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