John 16:19-24

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Prayer Works

Praying Effectively

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:24

The famous quote, “Pray as though everything depended on God; act as though everything depended on you,” has been attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola who founded the Jesuits. Though the source of the quote is debatable, it rings true to a certain degree. A similar West African proverb says, “When you pray, move your feet.” The slave turned abolitionists-statesman, Frederick Douglas said, “I prayed for 20 years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” These sayings and proverbs offer powerful reminders of how dangerous it is to believe in the spirituality of our prayers without the tangibility of action. That action involves humility, dependence on God, seeking God, and turning from sin (2 Chron. 7:14). The simple truth is that prayer and action are indispensable and inseparable parts of fruitful cultural engagement and spiritual growth. The bottom line of the spiritual formula: prayer works.

In this context, Jesus' conversation with His disciples confused them. Since Jesus had called on His disciples to follow Him, they had rarely been separated from Him. Now He was telling them that in His absence, they would grieve and then when He returned, they would experience great joy. Until this point, they really hadn't had to pray for anything. They could ask Jesus directly and He would respond. But soon they would have to engage the culture without His physical presence. They would have to learn to pray in Jesus' name, trust God to do His part but also make themselves available as His instruments. Then in Chapter 17, Jesus actual prayer modeled for them how prayer works: Jesus did His part, God did His part, and God's will was fulfilled.