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If Jesus Needed to Pray, So do We

If prayer is much like talking, then it should come naturally. But if prayer is the “breath of dependence,” then it doesn’t seem as easy. And that’s because, depending ain’t easy at times  (especially the more independent we become). Of course, there’s the fact, too, of talking to someone we can’t see or audibly hear that makes this kind of “religious” expression more elusive to us. There are sinful reasons that we don’t pray that complicate the endeavor, too, but have you ever thought: If Jesus is God, why did he have to pray?

We know from John’s Gospel that the three-in-one Godhead enjoyed perfect loving fellowship in eternity past and before Jesus became human (John 17:24). We know from Jesus’ earthly parentage that he would have been reared to pray.

Here are three thoughts on why Jesus needed to pray.

  1. He prayed to maintain fellowship with his Father.

Curiously, Jesus prayed at his baptism (Luke 3:21). Jesus would often get up long before everyone else and get away to be with his Father (Mark 1:36), or at times he’d spend the night in solitary prayer (Luke 6:12). After he had his disciples chosen, he took select ones up a mountain to pray at which time his glory was “peeled back” a little (Luke 9:28-29). 

  1. He prayed to model prayer for the rest of us.

Jesus didn’t need to pray because he was (and still is) God. He needed to pray because he was (and still is) human. Hebrews 5:7 candidly tell us how it was: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death.” Jesus confessed his dependence on God, but unlike us he never had to confess sin. He knew how to pray as one tempted. He modeled dependence from start to finish. If Jesus was dependent on God the Father, so we need to be, too.

While the prayers of the Old Testament, Psalms and the Apostles are exemplary, no single prayer gives us the headliners or categories to pray than the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-11; Luke 11:1-4). His disciples asked for instruction on prayer, and this is what he gave them. It is a jam-packed, massive prayer. You cannot merely recite this periodically as a formula or good luck charm.

  1. He prayed to ask God specific things for us (intercession).

Though Jesus prayed for himself (in the Garden of Gethsemane), his is a ministry of prayer for us. Around the last supper, Jesus predicted Simon Peter’s denial and said: “But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:30). That prayer wasn’t immediately answered, but it was eventually and fully answered. Then, Jesus prayed what has been famously dubbed his “high priestly” prayer in John 17. He was praying for the disciples who were in front of him, and he prayed for their disciples, too (Us!). In fact, Jesus who is physically in heaven is still praying; not for himself but for us. How beautifully Hebrews 7:24-25 says this: “because Jesus lives forever and has a permanent priesthood… He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he ever lives to intercede for them.”

If Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we need to pray! The fact that Jesus displayed his fellowship with God through prayer and modeled how and what to pray give us confidence (Hebrews 10:19) that we can pray. Jesus’ isn’t some impossible model to mimic. God doesn’t dangle impossibilities in front of our eyes to gloat in our failures. He answers impossibilities in his righteous Son, Jesus, who becomes our possibility for everything good and lasting; even praying. So, fight the temptation to throw your hands up in frustration that you can’t do it. Bank on his perfect prayer life to infuse your prayer life with power and effectiveness (James 5:16b).

 If Jesus Needed to Pray, So. Do. We.

Posted by Will Pareja with
Tags: prayer, grace

A Bring-to-Jesus Life

 

You may have heard the expression of someone having a “come-to-Jesus” moment. It’s the idea of having a pivotal life encounter or serious revelation. Well, the truest “come-to-Jesus” moment for any person is when they actually come to Jesus once and for all in saving faith and true repentance. It’s the moment of your yielding; your conversion. Jesus wins. Everything changes.

That’s all good. But it doesn’t stop there. One who has come to Jesus for salvation keeps on coming back. We realize that while God preserves his elect, they must persevere in ongoing belief in him, rejection of their own sin and growth in grace.

But, this new come-to-Jesus life brings with it a command and a nature. The command is plain especially throughout the New Testament (NT) of going and making disciples of all peoples. The nature is the new instinct to want others to know, too. Admittedly, many of us don’t feel this new instinct comes all that naturally. Some of us just need to repent of our attitudes towards non-Christians. Whether we realize it or not, the “wiring” to tell others about Christ is there, and that’s why the commands and our church community are there— to nurture our development of this spiritual responsibility to personally proclaim the Gospel in all our spheres of life.

Start Close

Two episodes in John’s Gospel show us that a come-to-Jesus life has a bring-to-Jesus verve.

First, there is Andrew (John 1). He’s the lesser-known disciple of Jesus who was also Simon Peter’s brother. In fact, Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptizer. But, the Baptizer introduced him to “the Lamb of God.” So, Andrew changed rabbis. Like an eager student, Andrew wanted to follow Jesus everywhere. Then, it says, Andrew “first found his own brother Simon and told him, ‘We’ve found the Messiah’ (which means Christ). Andrew brought Simon to Jesus…” And the rest is history (as they say) because Jesus changed Simon’s name to Cephas (or Peter) who became the leader among the twelve apostles.

The story simply shows us that evangelism is simply about bringing people to Jesus. Period. Then, you let Jesus do the rest. The other takeaway from this story is “start close.” Start with your family, your fishing or workout partners, etc. In Andrew’s case, he started with family. That’s a natural place to start. Doesn’t mean it’ll be easy, but it is “low-hanging fruit.”

“Don’t Believe Me…!”

The second episode is in John 4 and features a character I’ll call “Tana” (not her real name). She’s better known as the “woman at the well” (John 4). Jews didn’t normally associate with Samaritans. And, it was a “double whammy” in that Jesus, a Jewish man, was engaging a Samaritan woman. For the woman, this was a most fascinating encounter. Jesus read this lady’s mail that day. So blown away was Tana by  the possibility that she very well was meeting Messiah that she went back to town without her water jug (the very reason why she came to the well in the first place).

I can imagine her family or neighbors looked at her incredulously wondering where the water was. John records (4:29) her revelation: “’Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?’” They believed her because it says that “they left town and made their way to him.” She must have had some pull with the people (even though her marital history was broken, 4:17-18). 

What happened when those Samaritan townspeople got to Jesus? They believed (4:39). And here’s the kicker John tells us: “because of what the woman said when she testified.” How utterly encouraging is that for us who hobble along trying to bring people to Jesus! She was the reason they, too, became believers.

Or… was she?

The story ends with a twist that almost sounds like back-handed gratitude. After inviting Jesus to stay with them (which he did for 2 days), many more believed. “Then they told the woman, ‘We no longer believe because of what you said [emphasis added], since we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.” 

Wow. That is actually evangelism at its best. Evangelism is a means to the end. It’s a necessary “scaffolding” that’s meant to come down with every true “come-to-Jesus” encounter. The end of our efforts to share the Gospel with our friends and loved ones is that they don’t merely take our “word for it” but that they simply take God at HIS Word. True saving faith doesn’t rest in the powers and potential of the concerned Christian who shares the Gospel. It ultimately rests in the Savior of the world. And Jesus the Savior, said later in John 6:37: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” Now, THAT’S a word worth taking.

 

Posted by Will Pareja with

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