Corporate Prayer and Fasting: Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Theme: “Learn to pray like Jesus”
Scriptural Passage to Meditate: Luke 5:16; Luke 23:34
Prayer was an essential activity in the spiritual life and ministry of Jesus. Prayer has become an integral way for Jesus to connect with God and for God to empower and guide him throughout his vocation as a teacher to his disciples and an evangelist to the lost Jewish and Gentile populations in the first-century Roman empire. Jesus’ relationship with God his Father was saturated with a life devoted to consistent, persistent, and effective prayers. Jesus is a model of a prayer warrior for us Christians. In fact, all the disciples of Jesus recognize the validity of prayer because Jesus taught them how to pray effectively and consistently.
When we survey the writings of Jesus’ disciples, it is easy to observe the importance of prayer in their life and their appeal to the spiritual discipline of prayer as a way to strengthen the early Christians and churches to whom they wrote and communicated. For example, Apostle James the Brother of Jesus in his letter to the Christians who were dispersed, distressed, and persecuted in the Jewish Diaspora appeals to the power of prayer not just in the case of a spiritual or physical emergency, but urges them that prayer should be a corporate practice of the church. Hence, he writes:
“14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15). Apostle Peter, whose mutual love between he and Jesus is demonstrated in the reports in the Gospels, comforts the early Christian church that God is attentive to the prayers of those who walk blameless and in holiness before him. He also reminds them of their victory over the forces of darkness through the spiritual power of christian prayer:” For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12). Evidently, when God’s people pray, God hears, acts, and blesses them. In the last book of the Bible where Apostle John, who is often called “the disciple whom Jesus loves,” was an exile and displacement because of his faith. God reassures them that he was guiding the persecuted church in the Roman empire and promised them that he will give them victory over both human powers and demonic forces. In addition, God comforts John by showing him in a dream that the prayers of God’s people were stored in God’s heart and that their future was in God’s palm. This is what we learn from Apostle John, a man of prayer himself:
” And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8). In fact, throughout the Bible, God makes promises and accomplishes his will through the prayer of his people; he urges his people to pray; he uses prayer as a means for him to intervene or act in human affairs and the affairs of his people; and God simply wants his people to spend time with him in prayer, just because he longs for our presence and seeks intimacy with us.
Let’s consider this text below, in which God’s promise of his proximity, presence or nearness to his people is channeled through their prayers: passages about prayer in the Bible: “ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7). Another text in Luke 22:40, Jesus warns his disciples to cultivate a life of prayer so to hinder them from falling into temptation; yet followers of Christ will be tested, even by God, and tempted by the adversary: “And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” In a different occasion, Jesus makes it clear that those who persecute us should be the beneficiaries of our prayers. As children of God, we are compelled to pray for their well-being, salvation, and safety: “less those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:28). We ought to pray always and intercede always on behalf of those who are mean to us, mistreat and dehumanize us, and even those who wish our death. This is a call to radical discipleship and sustaining commitment to Christ and his teachings.
Furthermore, as Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray because they wanted to learn from the master about the art and nature of a good and effectual prayer, Jesus himself instructs them that the prayer God will hear is the prayer grounded in a right attitude before God. It is also a prayer that is saturated with humility and a pure heart: “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:5-8). That is the kind of prayer God hears and that which moves his hand to act in deliverance and on behalf of those who call upon him ,
Finally, I would like to take you to six practical lessons or principles about prayer we can learn from the prayer life of Jesus. As followers of Christ, we should pattern our prayer life according to his:
Six Practical Lessons and Principles About Prayer from the Prayer life of Jesus
- Make Prayer a priority in your Christian life (Mark 1:35).
- “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”
- Withdraw yourself from distractions and cares of this life so you could focus on pray (Luke 5:16).
- “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”
- Pray daily for personal holiness and sanctification (Matthew 4:1-2).
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”
Pray for major events and crucial life circumstances in your life (Matthew 26:36-44; Luke 6:12)
- Jesus prayed before he chose the Twelve disciples (Luke 6:12)
- Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
“36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch[a] with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.”
- “ In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. “Pray tirelessly for those who do not like you or the individuals who persecute you (Luke 23:34).
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Why should you pray for your enemies: to show that you have a special relationship with God and that He is your Father, and you his Son.
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
- At the cross and point of death, Jesus models the importance of praying for your enemies:
34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments
- Pray consistently for the lost (Matthew 9:36-38)
“36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
May the Lord grace your life with persistent and consistent prayers!