You’re not a slave any more
“These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.”John 16:25-27 NKJV
Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.Corrie Ten Boom
God loves you. He wants you to succeed. He wants the best for you.Norman Vincent Peale
The night before His crucifixion, Jesus promised His disciples that their prayer life was about to change radically. He said that after His resurrection He would tell them plainly about the Father. Indeed, after the resurrection, God put the spirit of adoption in their hearts that caused them to cry out “Abba, Father!” From that point forward, every believer had a heart experience that said, “I am no longer a slave, but a son.” Jesus promised that in that day, the day in which we now live, we would ask in His Name, but that the Father would know us and hear us individually because He loves each one specifically. We have the same standing before the Father that Jesus had when He was on the earth.
So how does knowing the love of the Father change the way we pray? That’s a great question. Jesus tells us a few things about this new relationship in the Sermon on the Mount. Right before He gave the Lord’s Prayer, He told us, “”And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. (Matthew 6:5-8 NKJV)
Prayer to the Father is not a religious ritual, it’s an intimate interaction between family members. It’s done primarily in private, in an intimate setting where we can be open and real, not put on a show for anyone. When I pray to my Father, I can speak like a normal person. I don’t have to repeat a memorized formula. In fact, praying a memorized form is religious ritual. My Father already knows my need, all I need do is ask Him for what He has promised. Intimate prayer is not a ritual, it’s a private conversation. I can discuss the situation with Him, and ask Him How His promise applies to me, or if He wants me to make any adjustments to my believing, my attitudes, or my actions.
Take a minute to read the prayers of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:36-46) He knew He faced crucifixion, and He didn’t want to do it. He asked the Father if there was any other way. In fact, He asked Him three times! He was committed to the plan of God for mankind, but His human nature was wavering. No matter how “unbelieving” you may feel, you can be honest with a Father who loves you. It’s a conversation, not a mantra. If Jesus could ask the Father if the plan could be altered, so can you. Have a question? Ask your Father.
Again in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us some insight into the attitude of the Father toward answering our prayers. In a teaching on prayer, Jesus said, “ If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11 NKJV) Your Father wants to answer your prayer. He is a better parent than you are, infinitely so. “How much more” expresses the magnitude of the Father’s desire to bless His children when they call. Do you want to take good care of your kids? How much more does your Father want the best for you. His Father heart wants to fulfill the desires of His children.
When I was a very young boy, I wanted a car. The desire was real, though I was way too young to drive. Knowing this, my dad taught me how to change the oil on his car, how to change a tire, the proper maintenance of a vehicle, etcetera. After a few years, when I grew up a bit, I got my car. (I had to get a job and earn the money, but I got it.) The question was never my dad’s desire to bless me. It was always my readiness for the responsibility. When your answers seem delayed, ask the Father what’s the hang-up. He knows, and He wants you to know. James said that it is perfectly proper when in the middle of a trial to ask God for wisdom. He never holds it back. (James 1:2-6) His will to answer you is never in question.
My favorite picture of how a son prays is in John chapter 11. Lazarus, an old friend of Jesus, is very ill. His two sisters, Mary and Martha travel to find Jesus and ask Him to come heal their brother. He answers them with, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4 NKJV) The sisters went home, but Jesus took a couple of extra days to get there. When He arrived, Lazarus was already dead, four days in the tomb. The sisters were angry, disappointed, and grief-stricken. They blamed Jesus for being too slow to come, as did the others who had gathered to grieve.
Jesus was dismayed, not by Lazarus’ death, but by the unbelief of His friends. After He told the mourners to “Roll away the stone” from the tomb, He said to Martha, “”Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (Verse 40) Mary and Martha had become so immersed in their loss, so distressed by the pace of Jesus’s response, that they had forgotten what He told them. It was then that Jesus gave us the most majestic example of the prayer of a son to the Father that can be found in Scripture:
“Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”John 11:41-44 NKJV
Jesus had already talked with His Father about the situation, undoubtedly in His “closet.” He was very confident that the Father had heard Him, and that He had already received His answer despite the fact that Lazarus was still in the grave. The next phrase is one that screams “Son!” Jesus said, “I know that you always hear me.” The problem was not that the Father hadn’t heard, or that He had not answered. He always hears. The problem was simply that Lazarus was still in the tomb. Knowing that the Father had heard Him, Jesus didn’t pray again, He simply addressed the problem: “Lazarus, come forth.” Glory!
Here’s the point: Jesus said that in the day we live, we would have the same standing in prayer that He had when He was on the earth. Because of that standing, as a son and not a slave, you can:
- Have an intimate, honest conversation with your Father about situations that you face. Be real, be confident, expect direction.
- Be free from the need to continually pray the same things over and over. You don’t need to nag, He hears you, always!
- Be confident that your Father wants to answer you, to give you good things. He loves you so much more that you imagine.
- Be assured that He always hears you, individually and specifically. when you pray.
- Speak boldly to the problems that remain in your path. (Read Mark 11:22-24)
NEXT STEPS: In the quest for healing, it’s always important to remember what He said. Take time to find a promise of healing in your bible. I like this one: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.” (Psalms 103:2-3 NKJV) Take the promise into your prayer closet and chat with your Father about it. Ask Him to fulfill it in your life. He may want to give you some specific instructions. Be sure to listen. He always hears you, so don’t forget to thank Him. Now, speak to whatever circumstance or symptom that stands in the way of your healing. If it’s pain, speak to it. If it’s nausea, speak to it. Whatever it may be, tell it to go. That’s the privilege of being a son: you have authority to enforce the Father’s will. Practice it this week. Get used to being treated like a son.
If you’ve never heard this kind of prayer, here’s an example: If I have pain in my knee, I might get alone with God and say something like this: “Father, Your Word says you heal all my diseases. My body is telling me different, so I ask that this promise of healing be applied to my knee. I know you hear me. I know you always hear me, so I thank you for healing me. If there are any adjustments I need to make, give me your wisdom. I thank you for it.” (Be sure to listen for His response) Then, if I feel pain in my knee, I speak to it: “Pain, leave my body now. Knee joint, be whole in the Name of Jesus.”
Remember, don’t try to memorize the formula. Instead, use the time to nurture the relationship. Your faith is in a Person, your Father, who also happens to be God.
Pastor Virgil Stokes