Friday, April 29, 2011
Praying Like Jesus
Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12-13; Matthew 26:36
In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.
But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."
Jesus was a person who was characterized by prayer. He often didn’t have time to do it, but he took time anyway. He often had to hide from others, so they wouldn’t distract him from prayer. Sometimes he prayed all night long so that he could have time to be with the Father. Usually, his prayers were short, but at times they lasted hours and hours—depending on the situation. But his life was surrounded by prayer, drenched in prayer and thus focused on the Father.
Acts 1:24; 2:42; 4:31; 6:4,6;10:9; 13:3; 14:23; 21:5
When they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.
After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another.
The early church was charatartized by prayer. They would meet together, or they would do it separately, but they would pray. They had apostles whom they cared for so that the apostles’ work would be to teach and pray. No one was accepted into the church or appointed to a task in the church unless they were prayed over. In prayer the leaders of the church would hear the Spirit at times, and that would guide the church. Thus, the life of the church was drenched in prayer.
Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and from inside he answers and says, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.
When we pray, we need not pray long, but we must be persistent in praying until we hear an answer from the Lord. The main thing we need to pray is for the fulfillment of God’s promises in our lives—justice, the Holy Spirit, the kingdom of God, enough to eat, deliverance from the evil one. And even if it takes a while for the Lord to answer, he will answer and give us what is good for us.
When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
We should not pray for the purpose of others. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t pray before others, but it does mean that we shouldn’t pray so that they will be impressed with us. Also, we should not pray in a long-winded way, as if the length of our prayer makes any difference. What is significant to the Lord is our humility and faith in coming to Him—not how impressive our prayers are.
I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.
In our prayer, the most significant thing to have is faith. We need to be devoted to God and we need to believe that what God says is true. If we hold to that, then no matter how ridiculous our prayer seem, our prayers will be answered. And if we want to be accepted by God, which is what an answered prayer is, then we need to accept others. We need to offer anyone who repents forgiveness and acceptance, even if they have done us wrong, or else we will not be accepted by God. As long as we have humility, forgiveness and faith, then we will be listened to.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
The promises and commands of Jesus are essential for us to understand and fulfill if we are to gain answered prayers. We must be full of faith and obedience, and then the Lord will listen to our prayers.
There isn’t a saint of God alive or dead that if they made any significant impact for God through Jesus on earth, it was done through prayer. Anthony defeated demons in the wilderness through prayer. Francis spent most of his time in prayer, seeking the desire of Jesus. Martin Luther King Jr. prayed on the steps of city hall in Birmingham, and so was able to stop a crowd of men from beating him. George Mueller wouldn’t tell his needs to men, but God and so all his needs were met. Jim Elliot prayed for the Indian peoples for years before he was martyred by them and so they were delivered into Jesus years after his death. Again and again, we see that the people of God who reformed the world, or even their own lives, did so only through prayer.
Living it Out:
Pray without ceasing
We need to pray daily, both the prayer the Lord told us to pray and our own personal prayers to the Lord. This doesn’t mean that we need to never stop praying, it means that we need to pray regularly, every day, twice a day and never stopping our routine—as difficult as it is.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer
The Lord Jesus taught us how to pray. Let’s use it, improvise on it, apply it to our lives daily.
Don’t be discouraged
Even if a prayer doesn’t seem to be answered, we must not be discouraged. Sometimes we have to wait a long time for God to answer our prayer—but we need to keep praying so to display that we have the faith to trust in Him no matter what.
Pray for your enemies
If you really despise someone, pray for that one. It may not change their attitude, but it may change yours!
Pray briefly unless you need to
It is good to take time to pray. But if you don’t have anything to say, don’t force prayer. It is better not to set a time to prayer, either a limit or an extended period of time. Allow your need and God's need determine how long you pray.
Be respectful before God
Our Lord is the king of the universe. Don’t be silly. Don’t treat him like your “buddy”. Treat him like your king—with the respect he deserves.