Tuesday, June 09, 2009

10 Minutes with the Man of Prayer

10 Minutes a Day with Jesus, Jim Reapsome, 978-0-8010-1307-2

Jesus, Man of Prayer

Luke 4:42; 5:16; 6:12; Matthew 6:9–13; 26:36–44

Anticipating an earthly kingdom, the disciples of Jesus wanted action. But Jesus knew that his kingdom was not of this world and he relied on prayer for daily guidance. Finally, one day the disciples asked him to teach them to pray.

  Jesus had grown up in a religious culture of prayer. Some of it was hypocritical, but a godly remnant of Jews prayed with faith in their hearts. They pleaded with God for Messiah to come. Jesus knew the heart’s cry of these people.

  The entire Jewish tradition of prayer covered every detail of life. The Old Testament stories frequently include prayers in a multitude of circumstances. Many of the Psalms are prayers, reflecting a deep piety among the Jews. The people prayed often, not just for the sacrifices on feast days as prescribed by Moses. By the time of Jesus, however, prayer seems to have become part of the legalistic framework by which one sought to earn God’s favor and blessing.

  Jesus radically transformed both the spirit and content of prayer. Most dramatically, he addressed God as Father. When he prayed, “Our Father in heaven” (Matt. 6:9), he thrust aside obligatory, rote prayers. Prayer became the heart’s reflection of a personal relationship with God, whose name the Jews would not say.

  Jesus also changed the practice of prayer. He did not limit prayer to formal times of worship or to special events. He knew and said that the temple was a house of prayer, but many times he went off by himself into the hills to pray, to commune with his heavenly Father. For Jesus, prayer was a vital element in making God’s power available to people in need.

  The four Gospels depict Jesus as a man of prayer in a host of circumstances. Not only did he give his disciples a model prayer, he also prayed for them and with them.

  It is not difficult to summarize the reasons Jesus prayed. Jesus prayed when unbelieving people confronted him. After his lengthy teaching session with his disciples, Jesus prayed. His longest recorded prayer (John 17) occurred when he faced separation from his disciples. With the cross looming before him, he prayed in Gethsemane. Hanging on the cross between two thieves, Jesus prayed. At the end, as his life ebbed away, he prayed.

  Whatever else we may gain from his example, we cannot overestimate the priority Jesus gave to communion with his Father. Prayer sustained him in his daily routine of doing good and engaging critics.

  If we follow Jesus, we will pursue persistent, disciplined, prevailing prayer. Difficult as it is to find the time and place to pray, we cannot hope to become more like Jesus if we do not pray. Prayer must saturate the family circle. It must encompass church, community, and worldwide needs. Without it, we are empty vessels, driven to and fro by our culture.

To think about

  • • How did Jesus revolutionize prayer?
  • • What is your greatest hindrance to consistent prayer?

Heavenly Father, how good of you to desire to hear my prayers. Fill me with intensity in praise, thanksgiving, and intercession for others.

10 Minutes a Day with Jesus: Growing in Your Love for the Savior by Jim Reapsome - Used by permission of Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, copyright © 2008. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Publishing Group. ===>Click headline to purchase book @ BakerPublishingGroup.com

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