I think that it is safe to say that prayer is a lost art. It seems like our busy lives have squeezed out, in my opinion, one of the two most important practices of a follower of Jesus. Recently, in my study of the life of Jesus I was reminded of prayer by Jesus’ example.
Several weeks ago I began on a journey of studying the life of Jesus for practical lessons that translate into our lives today. It has been an incredible study. If you are interested in listening to the messages you can find them here “Life Lessons.” My studies once again touched my heart with something that I knew intellectually. One of the dangers for the follower of Jesus is to have head knowledge but little or no passion to put Jesus’ teaching into practice. We need to be reminded that our Lord is not going to give us a test on Bible knowledge but will look to see a life example of His truth in action.
I studied several accounts from Jesus’ life that are simply recorded as “he went to pray,” “rising early,” “withdrew to a desolated place,” “all night in prayer” or “Jesus when to a place called Gethsemane.” Each of these accounts reminds us that Jesus modeled what He taught. The Gospels are filled with Jesus’ teaching on prayer. We have much to learn from Jesus’ instructions. What impressed me during my studies was that Jesus practiced what He preached. He prayed. Most followers of Jesus have come across the above statements in their Bible reading. Yet, we often fail to miss the significance because we fail to see them in the context of Jesus’ life. We learn that the circumstances Jesus was facing drove him to prayer. We find him driven to pray after the loss of John the Baptist’s life. We find him praying the whole night before He selected the twelve apostles. He rises early to pray after a full Sabbath day of ministry that lasted into the night. We have one of his prayers recorded for our benefit. And we find Him praying in the garden of Gethsemane before His arrest and crucifixion.
I believe that Jesus’ examples are one of the greatest motivations for us to pray. It is what motivated one of His disciples to ask, “Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”” (Luke 11:1) The resulting instructions were the Lord ’s Prayer. Jesus gives us an example of how to pray. Prayer needs to be more than meal time saying grace, or sending of a quick prayer in a moment of need. It needs to be intentional encompassing the components on the Lord’s Prayer (Worship, Submission, Provision, Fellowship, Relationships and Protection). Jesus’ example calls us to get away from distractions and to pray for the people and things on our hearts. I find it easier if I have a plan to pray, just like I have a Bible reading plan. My plan enables me to pray for more people by breaking them up into groups to be prayed over each day. Your daily categories might include family, friends and acquaintances, people in ministry, government along with other people and needs. I know of others that use rings of 3×5 cards for each person or need.
I was reminded once again that my prayers release God’s power in lives and situations. I believe Jesus said it best, “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought [meaning necessary] always to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson