A while back, I mentioned on Facebook that I would share the content from a breakout session about prayer that I facilitated in April. Since things are a bit crazy around here these days, as we pack up to move in a few weeks, I though maybe now would be a good time to type up something already mostly prepared. I don't want you thinking I've given up on this blog thing! This week, in fact, I thought about buying myself this:
I miss hanging out here in my corner of the internet!
But aaaanyway, back to today's topic: Prayer
As I thought about the session one morning (in the shower, of course!) I thought, What would I want to tell these ladies about prayer if, for some odd reason, I was limited to sharing only one thing? Almost immediately my mind replied, JESUS PRAYED!
We must remember that the Son of God prayed during His earthly mission. In the midst of all of the miracles and teaching, Jesus set aside time to pray. If Jesus needed to pray, how much more certainly do we need to pray?! Now please, when you read the previous sentence, don't feel guilty. No, I ask that question that we might take comfort, rather than be burdened. Our Lord, who kinda had something going for Him given that He was the God-man, still needed to communicate regularly with His heavenly Father as He ministered. Prayer, then, must be something far different than a crutch for the weak or simply wishful thinking. It's good for Christians to consider this and learn - especially by looking at and listening to Jesus - how to pray.
The format of my time with the ladies of Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church fell into three parts:
- The Ins & Outs of Jesus' Prayer Life
- Implications for Our Prayer Lives (and what Jesus taught about prayer)
- Hope & Encouragement in Summary
This evening, we'll begin with the first bullet-point: The Ins & Outs of Jesus' Prayer Life. We'll get as far as seems reasonable for a single blost,* and pick up where we left of in the next one!
To observe Jesus praying, it is helpful to read stories about times he prayed. There are many. In fact, the ladies and I looked up several passages that mention Jesus praying. I will list them below, if you'd like to read them all.** Here is a terse summary: over meals, before miracles, early in the morning, alone, with others, in times of great distress, at important events in His life, for Himself, for others, and even for us. Then, outside the gospels, in Hebrews 5:7 the Bible says, During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
After considering the passages and creating a nice list to complete the sentence, Jesus prayed _____, we moved on to thinking about these questions:
- To Whom did Jesus pray?
- What did He pray for?
- When did He pray?
- Where did He pray?
You can probably pull some answers from my quick list above, but this exercise was really fun for seeing the variety of things for which Jesus prayed and also the range of times and places He did so. We're always addressing God in prayer, but we can talk with Him about so many things from wherever we are at whatever time of day or night! What a comfort to consider Jesus example.
But one question remains. WHY? Why did Jesus pray?
The most concise answer is this: Jesus was dependent on the Father. As Hebrews said, He was heard for his reverent submission. Jesus knew His place and thrived there because He submitted Himself to the Father.
We are no less dependent.
So, what does this mean for our prayer lives? Well, you'll have to chew on today's post for a little and stay tuned for On Prayer (Part II), where we'll dig into what Jesus taught about prayer!
*Blost is my personal abbreviation for blog post. So much more efficient! :)
**Mathew 14:19, 26:36; Mark 1:35, 14:32; Luke 3:21-22, 9:18 & 28-29, 11:1, 22:19; John 17:1ff