Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jesus Lived a Life of Prayer

The Bible records how God moved whenever His people come into their knees. When Sennacherib, king of Assyria, threatened king Hezekiah and his kingdom, the latter king tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord (II Kings 19:1). Furthermore, when he received a letter from his oppressors, he spread the letter before the Lord and prayed earnestly for God’s deliverance. And indeed God delivered him and his kingdom. Hannah was so desperate for not bearing a child and her despair was intensified whenever Peninnah provoke her. I Samuel 1:10 says that she was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. God answered her prayer. King Xerxes spared the life of Esther though she approached him even without summoning her. That is not because of her charisma but because Jews prayed for God’s intervention (Esther 3 &4).

The Bible has more examples of how God answers prayer. But prayer is more than letting God know our needs (besides He already knows them before words come out of our mouth). For A. W. Pink real prayer is communion with God, so that there will be common thoughts between His mind and ours. What is needed is for Him to fill our hearts with His thoughts, and then His desires will become our desires flowing back to Him.

If we want to imitate someone who lived a life of prayer, there is no one else who has done that than Jesus. The following are the thoughts of my meditation and some I owe to Pastor Paul Washer:

Jesus knew who will be his disciples just as much as He knew those He has chosen even before the creation of the world (Eph.1:4). Yet in this text it says that Jesus prayed overnight then in the morning He chose His 12 disciples. And then in the book of Matthew, Jesus earnestly prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane hours before His arrest. He prayed if it is possible to take the cup away from Him yet He prayed for the will of the Father be done.

Jesus wrestled in prayer. Jesus spent much of His time in prayer. Jesus who is God-man is a man of prayer. We are only humans with natures so much attached to sin and to this world yet we often neglect praying.

Isn’t it a great rebuke to us that we belittle the value of prayer especially during times of seeking the will of God?

I always hope for holidays most especially whenever I know that there are lots of works to be done. I always utter that I need a break. But that is not the case for Jesus. After working for the whole day, He preferred to be with His Father. He went up by the mountainside to pray and He was there alone – alone with His Father.

Isn’t it a great rebuke to us that we neglect the value of communing with God through prayer because we are so tired from work?

  • Jesus knows that prayer is His priority and He enjoys it. (see Luke 5:16)

Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness and prayed. I love how Paul Washer exegete this verse. He says that people often slip away or sneak away to the things they most enjoy. And for Jesus, He often slips away to do what – to pray. He knows that praying, to commune with His Father, is His priority and He is not doing it for duty’s sake but because He enjoys and He loves to be with His Father. Let me quote Paul Washer in what he said in one of his sermons:Real love for Christ is demonstrated not in the advancement of power but in retreating in communion to be with Him.

Isn’t it a rebuke that we often sneak away to do the thing we enjoy the most and that is not praying? If we say that we love God, how much do we enjoy praying to Him?

  • Jesus retreats Himself through praying. (see Mark 1:35)

Jesus’ time is different from ours now. Today we have so much work to do and though we are thankful for the advancement of technology that enables us to do multi-tasking we often find 24 hours not enough for a day. We are too busy to pray.

Are we really busier than Jesus? I don’t think so. Read the Gospels and you’ll see how busy Jesus was. He can’t even have a break because people are always following Him. After teaching in the synagogue, after healing Simon’s mother, at sundown the whole city gathered there waiting for Jesus to minister unto them. I wonder at what time Jesus stopped ministering to take a nap. And while others are still sleeping, while it is still dark, Jesus again departed to a desolate place to PRAY.

Isn’t it a rebuke that because we are so tired and because of lack of sleep we sacrifice our time of prayer to take a rest? But Jesus retreats Himself in His Father’s presence.

  • Jesus teaches the necessity of prayer. (see Luke 18:1)

When Jesus taught this parable, He stressed the necessity of praying always. The disciples have experienced to be with Jesus; they have witnessed that the life of Jesus is a life of prayer and that is maybe the very reason why in Luke 11:1, after Jesus prayed a disciple asked Him to teach them how to pray. They, the disciples who are far greater than us in witnessing and communing with God, have seen how devoted Jesus was in prayer that they wanted to imitate Him. They have grasped that they ought to pray always.

Martin Luther says that "I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer."

Isn’t it a rebuke that we are so much bothered on many things but we often take them to the Lord in prayer?

  • Jesus emphasizes the importance of prayer in the Christian walk. (see Luke 22:40)

A. W. Pink says that prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude—an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God. We are so weak yet the battle is so fierce, not just the battle in this world but most is the battle within ourselves. Let us be honest with ourselves, we fail whenever we take a step in this Christian walk by our own effort. We find it harder to do the things we want to if we do them on our own; we even sin and fall into the temptation.

Jaci Velasquez’ song entitled On My Knees says: See I don’t know how, but there’s power When I’m on my knees.

Isn’t it a rebuke that we often wonder why we fail and we condemn ourselves for our failures but we neglect the power that is supposed to be in us if we just pray to God?

As this truth impacts greatly in my life, I used this also as my topic when the youth asked me to lead their devotion. While I was preparing for this topic, I looked at my concordance to search for more passages about prayer and I found a passage I know I have read before, maybe many times before, but as I read it that day, it was as if it was the first time I learned about that passage. It really blessed my heart and may it also speak to you:

What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to Him? (Deuteronomy 4:7)

(picture is taken from http://searchwarp.com/UserImages/CB6_prayer.jpg)
Copyright His Beloved 2011.