Got prayer? Do you really, deep in your heart, believe that prayer matters? Makes a difference? How often do you pray? By that I mean heartfelt prayers, prayers about everything. Do you sit here today living a life that seems bland, seems routine, seems lacking? Or are you living a life that is abundant and heroic which is truly the life here on earth that you have been made by God for. You see, God desires you to take your gifts and passion and training strengths beyond the places of safety and control, and into the kingdom of God’s will here on earth. A place of where you actually need God.
Perhaps the first indicator that you are approaching that place will be seen in your life of prayer. Mother Teresa said that she couldn’t imagine doing her work for more than thirty minutes without prayer. Do you and I have work that we can’t imagine doing for thirty minutes without prayer? If not, perhaps we need a new life’s work. Or perhaps we need to do an old life’s work in a new way. I won’t need to be in prayer every thirty minutes in my work if I don’t really need God’s power to get it done, or if it’s work that God doesn’t really need done because it has nothing to do with God’s kingdom.
Got prayer? Why pray? Why did Jesus pray? The Bible records the words of 222 specific prayers – actual worded prayers, not just references to prayer with statements like he prayed or he called upon the name of the Lord, 222 actual prayers. 176 prayers in the Old Testament and 46 in the New Testament. If you read through the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John you will see Jesus constantly taught, exhorted, encouraged and inspired His disciples to pray.
Author David Watson wrote: “Prayer was the breath that Jesus breathed, the driving force of His life, the secret of His astonishing ministry.” The Gospels record 17 specific occasions when Jesus prayed. Jesus prayed at different times of the day. He prayed in different places. Sometimes He prayed on His own, and sometimes when His Disciples were with Him.
Why did Jesus pray? If Jesus is God, why did Jesus need to pray? Prayer was obviously an important part of Jesus’ life. But why did Jesus need to pray? Jesus prayed because of His relationship with God the Father. In John chapter 17, we find Jesus’ prayer of intercession for the disciples and all who would believe in Him because of their testimony. In His prayer, we see Jesus’ relationship with the Father and the confidence He has in His Father’s perfect provision and plan. Jesus’ relationship with the Father was the power that brought salvation to man.
Jesus laid aside His glory and took on flesh (Philippians 2:5-8) and became obedient to Father God.
Why did Jesus pray? Jesus prayed because of His dependence upon and His obedience to the Father. Jesus said, “I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the One who sent me, not my own will.” (John 5:30). Jesus was in complete submission to the Father. Have you ever asked “What would Jesus do?” Perhaps a better question is, “What did Jesus do?” Asking what would Jesus do is subjective to what we think He did. Asking what Jesus did is objective because we have a record in the Gospels.
So What did Jesus do? Jesus prayed often and consistently. He prayed early in the morning, late at night, He even prayed all through the night. Luke 5:16 tells us Jesus often withdrew into the wilderness for prayer. He often sought out a place where He could be alone in prayer to Father God. Jesus prayed often and consistently. Jesus prayed without ceasing every chance He could.
Jesus prayed in every aspect of life. Can we say the same about our prayer life? Jesus prayed based on His knowledge of God’s Truth
The prayers of Jesus were based on the revealed truth of God. Jesus did not pray in a cold, distant manner, He prayed from His heart. In His prayers Jesus demonstrated genuine empathy and love for God, for Himself, for His disciples, and for all who had or would place their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Jesus also prayed before critical moments and events in His life.
What do you do when you know difficult or critical moments are about to occur in your own life?
Is your first thought to seek God in prayer? Or do you try to struggle through in your own strength? Do you remember when the disciples were caught up in a storm? Jesus had just performed the miracle of feeding 5,000 people. Jesus insisted that His disciples get into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. Then Jesus went up into the hills to pray. Later that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land.
The disciples had been in the boat for about nine hours and according to the Gospel of John they had rowed for four miles (John 6:19). The Gospel of Mark tells us that Jesus saw that the disciples were in serious trouble, they were rowing hard in the storm and struggling against the wind and waves. Remember, Jesus wasn’t in the boat because he had gone to the hills to pray.
Jesus didn’t stop praying when His disciples were struggling. What does Jesus do when we are in the storm of life? He prays for us. While Jesus is praying and we are in the storm, what are we to do? The simple answer is we do what the disciples did. We continue to row. We don’t give up, we keep going. It wasn’t easy. They “struggled and rowed hard”.
Maybe at times you feel like you are rowing in storm. Or maybe you just feel like you are a hamster in a wheel. The more you try to move forward, no matter how hard you run, your still in the same place. The Alarm Clock goes off and you struggle out of bed, visit the bathroom, grab some breakfast then head out into a today that probably won’t be that different from yesterday or tomorrow. A regular routine of Eat, work, sleep, repeat.
The disciples rowed most of the night. Then about three o’clock in the morning Jesus went towards His disciples, He was not in another boat, He walked on the water towards them. At the right time, God appears. He shows Himself and everything appears to change. The disciples in the boat did not give up or bail out and we shouldn’t either. No bailing out. No giving up. No laying down the oars! When the situation feels hopeless and you can’t see Jesus at work, trust Him, He is at work, He is praying a prayer that He Himself will answer.
His prayer is for you, for your situation, Jesus loves you and He cares for you. Jesus cares about the details, He won’t forget you, Jesus will not abandon you to the storm. In the storm, Jesus went to His disciples, He went toward them, walking on the water. When they saw Jesus walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking He was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw Him. Then they heard His voice, Jesus spoke to them and said “Don’t be afraid. Take courage! I am here!” Then Jesus climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped and the Disciples were totally amazed.
Do you need to hear those words this morning? Jesus says to each of us as He said to those disciples, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage! I am here!” Jesus is not just praying for you – He is with you, in your storm, in your circumstance, in your situation. You are not alone He is with you.
What are we to do? We need to pray. Prayer always been part of the lives of Dynamic Disciples. Both church history and biographies of famous Christians provide us with many examples of people who understood the importance of prayer in their lives. When and how often do you pray?
George Whitfield the 18th-century preacher always made sure he was in bed by 10 PM every night and he got out of bed at 4AM every day to pray. John Wesley, our founder, would spend two hours each day in prayer and is famous for saying “God does nothing but in answer to prayer”.
William Bramwell was a famous Methodist minister and it said of him that he almost lived on his knees he would often spend four hours in prayer. Martin Luther once said “If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.”
Not just great famous Christians prayed but we also know those people around us that are genuine, the ones we see Jesus in pray. Let me tell you about Immaculee Ilibagiza. Left to tell: Discovering God amidst the Rwandan holocaust. 1 million / 7 million. Tutsi. Pastor risked life. 22 yo. 3×4 bathroom – 8 people 91 days – 22yo – Rosary – 16 hr.s – Prayer – discovering God. Her faith became real – “Faith moves mountains, if faith were easy there would be no mountains.” ― Immaculée Ilibagiza – We pray and our faith increases, our intimate relationship with God increases.
How do you pray? There are three main categories of prayer:
Seeking Prayer – Seeking God and finding His will – Knowing and believing that He listens to and answers those who earnestly seek Him.
Then there is Asking Prayer – Asking God in faith according to His will – Knowing and believing that He will answer.
And there is Declaring Prayer – Authoritative declaring of His Word and promises in faith – Knowing and believing that God is faithful to His Word and His promises.
We pray and seek God to find His will, prayer is a necessary part of our daily walk of faith and obedience as disciples of Jesus. Knowing how to pray is 1% knowledge about prayer, and 99% faith. That’s why we pray and it does not matter how we pray.
Rex Rouis wrote “Prayer is the verbal release of faith – a specific faith for a specific purpose, all based on a specific promise from God.” Faith is the active ingredient in our prayers. Prayer is not about speaking the correct words, it’s about speaking words in faith. E.M. Bounds in his book The Weapon of Prayer wrote – “God has of His own motion placed Himself under the law of prayer, and has obligated Himself to answer the prayers of men and women. He has ordained prayer as a means whereby He will do things through men and women as they pray, which He would not otherwise do.”
If prayer puts God to work on earth, then, by the same token, prayerlessness rules God out of the world’s affairs, and prevents Him from working. The driving power, the conquering force in God’s cause is God himself. Prayer puts God in full force into God’s work.”
We pray in faith, and maybe we also need to pray for patience to waiting for God to answer!
Sometimes He answers quickly, other times we actual have to enter into the storm before the answer comes. But remember – “Don’t be afraid. Take courage! God is with you!”
Finally let’s return to the question: Why did Jesus pray? Jesus prayed to teach us, as children of God, our obedient submission to the will of Father God will bring us spiritual blessing. For us to maintain our relationship with the Father as dynamic disciples of Jesus, consistent prayer is essential.
I will close with these words from Billy Graham – “Prayer is spiritual communication between man and God, a two-way relationship in which man should not only talk to God but also listen to Him. Prayer to God is like a child’s conversation with his father. It is natural for a child to ask his father for the things he needs.”
“Remember that you can pray any time, anywhere. Washing dishes, farmers, working in the office, in the shop, on the athletic field, even in prison — you can pray and know God hears!”
“Avail yourself of the greatest privilege this side of heaven. Jesus Christ died to make this communion and communication with the Father possible.”