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There are essentials and there are welcome additions and then there are peripheral things. It is that way in much of life. If you are shopping for a car, the essentials are pretty evident–working engine, four wheels that turn, brakes and lights that work, and things like that. Air conditioning might be a welcome addition (although, I know, for some that is an essential!) as well certain kinds of seats or a radio or CD player. What of things like heated seats, tinted windows, power side mirrors, and a built-in GPS system? For most people those are peripherals.

When it comes to the Christian life there are essentials and welcome additions and peripherals as well. There are issues that are at the center of the target when it comes to life with Jesus and then there are things that move out beyond the center toward the periphery. I am not suggesting that some of the things at the periphery don’t have a place or shouldn’t be welcomed. I only am suggesting that there are some things that are necessarily central to everything else in the Christian life.

Obviously, coming to faith in Jesus–personally responding in dependent trust to Jesus’ offer of life because of what he accomplished in dying and rising for us–is the center of the center. Without that being settled in our hearts, nothing else matters. Once you come into a life with Jesus, that you have time with him is important; the specifics of where and when you have such time is not nearly so critical.

In the upper room–the place Jesus shared his last meal before his betrayal and crucifixion with his closest followers–Jesus spoke about how they were going to experience ongoing life with him after he was no longer physically present with him. He touches on lots of different aspects of life–and all that he said to them was important. It all should matter to us. But interestingly enough, Jesus highlights a few things. He verbally underscores some of his words by introducing a statement with the words, “Truly, truly” (or “Amen, amen” in some translations). Jesus wants us to grasp the critical nature of these particular statements. These are essentials to ongoing life with him.

In previous posts we’ve looked at two of those statements. (See “Real Joy is Evident” and other posts on John 16:22 and “Are We Sure About That?” and other posts on John 14:12.) There is one more “truly, truly” that calls for our attention.

“In that day you will not question me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”  (John 14:23-24)

This “essential statement” is going to require more than a single post to unpack; the implications here are massive.

The “day” Jesus is referring to is the day his followers will experience the joy of the resurrection (as is evident from the context of these remarks). In that day–once they realize that Jesus has risen just as he said he would–they will not be caught up in asking Jesus to explain everything he meant–as they had been doing in the upper room–but they would be launched into a new life of prayer. Their “questioning” will wane because they will finally grasp what Jesus has been telling them about his life and death and resurrection. And recognizing that he has drawn them into this resurrection life of shared intimacy with the Father, they will pray as they never have before.

Part of what Jesus says here that really stirs me is that what will characterize the post-resurrection life of his followers is the way they pray. Praying–asking and receiving from the Father–is one of the defining characteristics of their lives with Jesus when he is no longer physically present. And that is not what characterizes my life–even though I am living in the same post-resurrection life. I tend  to live as if such prayer is peripheral rather than essential.

I’m going to have to wrestle this idea down into where I live, but for now I am simply growing in my awareness that Jesus wants me to know that an active and effective life of prayer is an essential to our lives–those of us who live in this post-resurrection world.

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