Between Ask & receive
John 14, 15 & 16 are collectively termed “the upper room” discourse as they cover a period when Jesus was preparing His disciples for His exit from the Earth. In John 14, He teaches the disciples extensively about the necessity of His departure and the arrival of the Holy Spirit. In John 15, Jesus discusses the existence of a new relationship; He is the vine and we are the branches. We must stay connected; the branch needs the vine and not vice versa. Jesus continues in John 16 with his reiteration of the promise of the Holy Spirit and states that if they ask (i.e. pray) for anything in His name it will be granted.
The text, John 16:23-24 states, “and in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” We have the assurance from God that when we ask anything, it shall be granted. Jesus closes this chapter with the illustration of a pregnant woman. The pregnant woman symbolizes the believer. The seed a pregnant woman carries is attained in the moment of pleasure; reminiscent of a new believer whose heart is full of joy. The spirit man is excited; everything is made new. The pregnant woman goes from pleasure into a cycle of pain and process; carrying and nurturing the fetus, cycles of discomfort and frustration until she brings forth what she contains. This is akin to the pain of prayer; the journey between ask and receive.
Between ask and receive, there is the pain of process. God’s answer to our prayer is a journey; a school of pain. God’s answer is sometimes a journey that seemingly and pointlessly circles the object of issue. Like Joshua and the Israelites (Joshua 5 & 6), It appears as though you are simply going around the problem you want to overcome and wondering how you are making progress. Without a receipt of the object of prayer, the believer’s joy is incomplete and unfulfilled. The instruction is to pray always, pray consistently, pray daily; however, from a human perspective, prayer needs an endpoint. When the object is unattained, it creates a vacuum; faith waivers. Thus unanswered prayer affects the believer’s morale, confidence, hope and belief.
Matthew 7:7-11 reads, “ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” The import of this scripture is that for every prayer there is an answer. God answers prayer, but He answers by His own prerogative. His answer may be “yes”; there is true power in prayer when we pray in Jesus' name. He may also say “no”; there is a purpose when God says no. He is able to reveal His strength when we are broken and weak. He may answer with “wait”; in which case, we need to allow Him to continue working and exercise patience as we wait on His timing. Perhaps, His response may be “I can’t hear you”. The presence of sin in our lives can hinder God’s ability to hear our prayers. (Psalm 66:18-20).
God knows that we live in a world system out of our control. We are spirits dwelling temporarily on this planet and housed in bodies of flesh. To know, understand, and walk in the purposes of the Kingdom that we belong to, we must stay in touch through consistent communication, (i.e. prayer) or lose our identity. Prayer is then by divine plan; it allows you to maintain your spiritual cultural identity; stay in touch with your true home. It allows you to know the heart desire and directives of your King. Prayer enables you to maintain focused on purpose, and sustain your relationship with God.
Effective praying is done with recourse to the Holy Spirit; praying in the Spirit. The enabling power of all prayer comes from the omnipotence of the Spirit. (Romans 8:26) Praying in the Spirit develops a character of consistency; it enables one to be varied, it allows the individual to pray all kinds of prayers, not merely requests. Praying in the Spirit makes one watchful, and develops perseverance. Praying in the Spirit is universal, it fosters prayer for all persons and the world. It is gospel-centered and passionate. Prayer in the spirit is secure, accurate and precise; it cannot be decoded.
God’s plan is that we constantly reach out to Him through prayer. God answers prayer! Often, the answer to what we seek is in the process of the journey. If we remain relentless in our prayer, we have an assurance that we will transcend from asking to receiving.