Verse by verse, our Lord Jesus teaches us to pray on the night when He was betrayed. Learn along with His disciples and with us a promising word on why and how to pray…

Hear the full audio of Bible Study from 26 May 2019

Bible Study Notes for the 05.26.2019

From John 16:23-33 (ESV)

23 In that day you will **ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I **say to you, whatever you **ask of the Father in my name, he will **give it to you. 24 Until now you have **asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will **receive, that your joy may **be full.

25 “I have **said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is **coming when I will no longer **speak to you in figures of speech but will **tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will **ask in my name, and I do not **say to you that I will **ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself **loves you, because you have **loved me and have **believed that I **came from God. 28 I **came from the Father and have **come into the world, and now I am **leaving the world and **going to the Father.”

29 His disciples **said, “Ah, now you are **speaking plainly and not **using figurative speech! 30 Now we **know that you **know all things and do not **need anyone to **question you; this is why we **believe that you **came from God.” 31 Jesus **answered them, “**Do you now **believe? 32 Behold, the hour is **coming, indeed it has **come, when you will be **scattered, each to his own home, and will **leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father **is with me. 33 I have **said these things to you, that in me you may **have peace. In the world you will **have tribulation. But **take heart; I have **overcome the world.”

**VERBS! <— THAT’s where the ACTION is!


Our prayers arise in real-time, always amid very present circumstances! Often they express our own urgent desires, sometimes interceding for others’ needs. Yet, we usually pray with a view strongly concerned with the future. We are asking for help needed today or tomorrow, in hope that what has not yet been given or done for us soon will be given or done for us.

Sometimes we speak prayers of thanksgiving which note God’s gracious help in the past and present gifts graciously delivered and already received. Scripture certainly urges us to offer such prayers. God’s command to “give thanks to the Lord” and many saints’ examples show us to give thanks in prayer and praise of God.

However, here our Lord speaks not of thanksgiving, but of **ASKING, petitioning for help—making a request of the Father. We ask in the PRESENT, for gifts or help we hope to receive in the FUTURE.

In our Large Catechism, we learn three reasons to pray and make requests:

17 Let this be the first and most important point, that all our prayers must be based and rest upon obedience to God, irrespective of our person, whether we be sinners or saints, worthy or unworthy. … He will not suffer our prayers to be in vain or lost. For if He did not intend to answer your prayer, He would not bid you pray and add such a severe commandment to it.

19 In the second place, we should be the more urged and incited to pray because God has also added a promise, and declared that it shall surely be done to us as we pray, as He says Ps. 50:15: Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee. And Christ in the Gospel of St. Matthew 7:7: Ask, and it shall be given you. For every one that asketh receiveth. …

24 And it has been prescribed also for this reason that we should see and consider the distress which ought to urge and compel us to pray without ceasing. For whoever would pray must have something to present, state, and name which he desires; if not, it cannot be called a prayer.

PART ONE: “In that day…” (v.23, 26), ‘The hour is coming…” (v.25, 32)

A.) Close context: Here Jesus speaks to the eleven on the night when He was betrayed. We recall that after celebrating the last Passover supper, Jesus has washed the feet of His disciples (John 13). He prepares them for His departure to the Father (John 14) and the events that are about to take place—His arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, resurrection. He urges them to remain in Him, as branches to the Vine (John 15). Soon enough Jesus will ascend into heaven and be seated at the right hand of the Father. The Lord here gives special attention to the Holy Spirit, whom He promises to send them (John 14, 16). We believe and confess, from the right hand of the Father, He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.

B.) Jesus closes His teaching this night with promises and instructions about prayer (John 16:23-30). We know from Matthew, Mark and Luke that they went out to the garden of Gesthemane to pray. Our Lord’s “High Priestly Prayer” follows in John 17.

C.) Hear our Gospel reading from John 16:23-33. Pay attention to things present and things future, as our Lord speaks.

D.) Notice in verses 23 and 26, Jesus repeats the phrase “in that day…”

What does Jesus say the disciples WILL DO or NOT DO “in that day…”?



What does Jesus say He himself WILL DO or NOT DO “in that day…”?



What does Jesus say the Father WILL DO or NOT DO “in that day…”?



E.) What day is THAT? When is “that day”? What’s your best guess?


F.) Review the whole passage again, giving special notice to the *verbs* that describe what the disciples DO (or WILL DO)—list them below:



PART TWO: His T i i i i i i i i m e IS on My Side

G.) Consider these two quotes from sermons Luther preached on this passage:

“The additional conditions, however, of which I have written enough elsewhere, should and must be omitted that we specify to God the time, person, place, and measure. We must leave all that to his own free will, and cling only to asking; we must not doubt that the prayer is heard, and that what we petitioned is already ordered — that it will be given — as certainly as if we already had it. This is pleasing to God and he will do as he here promises: “Ask, and ye shall receive.” Those, however, who set the time, place and measure, tempt God, and believe not that they are heard or that they have obtained what they asked; therefore, they also receive nothing.” (Luther, first sermon for the 5th Sunday after Easter)


“In like manner, St. Paul says that God’s ability is thus proved, in that he does exceeding abundantly above and better than we ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20). Therefore, we should know that we are too finite to be able to name, picture or designate the time, place, way, measure and other circumstances for that which we ask of God. Let us leave that entirely to him, and immovably and steadfastly believe that he will hear us.” (Second sermon for the 5th Sunday of Easter)

H.) We teach prayer in such a way that the Christian makes many bold requests freely to the Lord, trusting that our Lord’s knowledge and timing is far superior. Some suggest a rather ‘name it and claim it’ approach, saying if you don’t get what you asked for, it’s because you didn’t build or muster up a sufficient amount or quality of FAITH. Faith doesn’t rely on YOUR WORKs, but Christ!

I.) FAITH is a gift given by God, in His good measure, by His appointed means. Faith is created and strengthened by hearing God’s Word preached and receiving His good gifts in the sacraments. Read Romans 10:14-17, Eph. 2:8, John 17:14-20.

According to John 17:20, by what means do people come to believe in Jesus?


J.) Is this a passage about prayer? Yes! But here Jesus teaches prayer as the a bold embodiment of the relationship between the Father and His beloved Son. You are brought into this relationship by faith—baptized in His name, you are united to Christ, clothed with Christ, born again by water and the Spirit!

Read John 16:27. Is this love happening in the PRESENT or in the FUTURE?

K.) Confident of the Father’s abiding love, trusting His goodness, wisdom and timing, we are very bold to pray: “Our Father, who art in heaven…”

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