And When You Pray… (Part 2)

Praying angel statue

Quick Review

Last week we spent a good amount of time looking at two principles and sub-principles when it comes to prayer:

  • Do not pray like Jesus said not to
    • Do not pray selfishly
    • Do not pray for show
    • Do no pray thinking you can control God with your prayer
  • Pray like Jesus said to
    • Pray constantly
    • Don’t lose heart
    • Remember who you are praying to
    • Pray that others will recognize who God is too
    • Pray for God’s will versus what you want
    • Look to God for your needs
    • Ask God for forgiveness
    • Ask God to protect you from temptation

We all still in agreement that those are good principles? No second thoughts after a week to reconsider? 🙂

Emulating Jesus

As promised, this week we are going to discuss the third principle…along with its sub principles.

Pray like Jesus did.

When I first started preaching in Churches of Christ, I began with a series based on “What did Jesus do?”: WDJD. We all probably have heard people say in situations we should ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?”: WWJD…but Ray Comfort’s Living Water’s ministry rightly pointed out that it may be better to ask, “What did Jesus do?” Scripture tells us what that is, whereas people can argue until the cows come home about what Jesus would do.

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the “extras” that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

However, let’s also recognize that there is a difference in what the Bible describes and what the Bible commands. Descriptive versus prescriptive. Normative versus informative.

So, just because the Bible records what Jesus did does not mean we must (or should) do it too. For instance, He walked on water. Does that mean that we all should hop into our cars, head over to the Aurora Reservoir, and see how far out we get above water? 🙂

However, when it comes to prayer I think it is pretty safe to say it is wise to emulate the sinless Son of God. Beyond that, what I think you’ll see is that the answer to “What did Jesus do?” is “What He told us to do.”

Do What Jesus Said To

Before we look at what Jesus did when it comes to prayer…I want to add a few other things that fit “Do what Jesus said to.” They came up as I reviewed the times Jesus prayed on Friday. Let’s start with a verse in Matthew followed by a couple in Luke.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:44)

27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you (Luke 6:27-28).

Based on the English Standard Version translation, who should you pray for?

Pray for those who persecute and abuse you.

And, by the way, I think if you read around those verses and take into account the rest of Scripture, your prayer isn’t supposed to be, “Dear heavenly Father, please smite my enemies.” 🙂

Instead, you should pray for their good…which, ultimately, would be eternal life via faith in Jesus. No, you don’t need to ask God to help them make your life more miserable…but Christian prayer isn’t a vehicle for requesting personal vengeance.

Leave that to the Lord to decide.

Now let’s take a look at Mark 11:24-25:

24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

When Jesus taught us to pray with the Lord’s Prayer we could have read on where He said to be forgiving…and directly within it Jesus said to ask for forgiveness as we forgive…but this is a much clearer call to another “do what Jesus said to” sub-principle.

Forgive others when you pray.

And, by the way, is it limited in anyway?

For instance, does it say, “Forgive if they’ve asked for forgiveness” or “forgive if they aren’t a really, really bad person”?

No, instead it commands to “forgive, if you have anything against anyone.” I’ll be up front, this is going to be hard for me. I am not vindictive, but…especially when the wrong is fresh and the wound is open…it’ll be hard for me to immediately forgive someone who has harmed me or those I care for.

But I’m going to do my best…and pray that God fix me so I “just do it” instead of just trying my best.

You?

Oh, and Mark 11:24 also said, “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it.” I would be cautious reading too much into it…for instance if you follow the previous sub-principle about wanting God’s will…then you shouldn’t believe you are going to get something that goes against it…so let’s add this sub-principle instead:

Trust God.

Fair enough? 🙂

Okay, one more sub-principle to “do what Jesus said to.” This one is thanks to Matthew 9:35-38:

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 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.”

What does this say we should pray for?

Pray Jesus sends out more people to save the lost.

Oh, and our Lord said to “pray earnestly” when it comes to that. We all just get one shot at eternity…and let’s be sure that, safely on the right side of salvation, we do not forget those whose future is dark.

Pray that the light of Jesus reaches them.

Pray Jesus sends out more people to save the lost.

Pray Like Jesus Did

Okay…you ready to see how Jesus prayed?

Let’s do it!

23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray (Matthew 14:23).

15 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray (Luke 5:15-16).

What sub-principles can we take from those two references?

Pray alone.

Pray without distractions.

Now, don’t get me wrong…public prayer is appropriate at times…and sometimes life is such that if you only prayed when there were absolutely no distractions…

You might never find a time you can pray.

However, do you remember what I said last week?:

Hypocrites pray selfishly. Prayer is supposed to be between you and God…with God as the focus.

A hypocrite’s prayer is between them and their audience…with them as a focus.

To have you prayer be between you and the Almighty with Him as the focus…sometimes you really need to get away…block out the world…and let God in.

Pray alone.

Pray without distractions.

Mark 1:35 gives us our next sub-principle:

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.

Actually, let me throw one more verse in:

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God (Luke 6:12).

Next sub-principle?

Prioritize prayer.

Scripture doesn’t discuss it enough for me to say definitively, but my guess is that Jesus started each day off in prayer…and we should too. This is another place I come up horribly short…I generally start each day reading from the Bible, but…oddly enough…not even saying a quick prayer before doing so.

Time for me to emulate Jesus on this.

Oh, as I think of it, notice that it says, “Rising early in the morning, while it was still dark.” I’ve gotten up early to exercise…but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten up early to make sure I had time to pray.

But, you know what, if I truly follow “prioritize prayer”…during busy times of my life…wouldn’t I do that?

And I’ve never prayed all night.

How about you?

Prioritize prayer.

Okay…let’s continue by looking at Luke 22:31-32 followed by John 17:9 and 20-21):

31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).

9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours (John 17:9).

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me (John 17:20-21).

In Luke we don’t see Jesus praying…but we can trust that if He said he did…

Jesus prayed for Simon’s faith.

With John, Jesus is praying for the saved…for the church…both then…and isn’t it really cool?…now…meaning you! (“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word…”)

Next two sub-principles?

Pray for the faith of your brothers and sisters.

Pray for the church.

I can use your prayers? Can you use mine?

Pray for the faith of your brothers and sisters.

Pray for the church.

Okay…let’s look at one more…albeit longer…reference to read together:

32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand” (Mark 14:32-42).

Did Jesus know what was going to happen to Him? [Yes.]

Was He willing to accept that horrible cup? [Yes.]

Did He pretend He wanted to? [No.]

Next sub-principle:

Be honest with God.

Of course, this is sort of a dopey thing to have to tell people. The Father is omniscient, so you cannot successfully lie to Him…so why even try?

If you think life sucks, tell Him!

Now, be respectful and willing to follow God’s direction…but don’t pretend that life is all Skittles and rainbows if your heart is broken or your totally stressed out at work or…

Instead…

Be honest with God.

Remember, the Father loves you Himself.

Now, for our final sub-principle…and considering a previous “do what Jesus said to” sub-principle was “remember who you are praying to”…this one may seem odd.

What did Jesus refer to God as in verse 36?

Abba.

Do you know what “abba” means?

It is Aramaic for “father”…but notice how Jesus is quoted as using it with a normal Koine Greek word for Father.

Do you know who also can call the Father “Abba”? You can!:

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:14-17).

6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God (Galatians 4:6-7).

Although, contrary to what some people teach, “Abba” does not mean “daddy,” it is important that when you pray you take into account the last sub-principle:

Pray to God as your Father.

You do not pray to an uncaring deity who treats you, at best, as unworthy, stinky worms.

You pray to a God who Jesus said to refer to as a Father…One who loves you Himself.

As the verses in Romans said (and are reiterated elsewhere in Scripture)…you were adopted as sons.

Cry, “Abba! Father!”

I don’t think it is coincidental that Paul tells us to pay like Jesus did in the Garden.

Pray like Jesus did.

Pray to God as your Father.

But not your daddy. 🙂

Wrapping Up

Well, there you go…we’ve spent two weeks on prayer…and, technically, we’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to it in the pages of Scripture. Putting it all together:

  • Do not pray like Jesus said not to
    • Do not pray selfishly
    • Do not pray for show
    • Do no pray thinking you can control God with your prayer
  • Pray like Jesus said to
    • Pray constantly
    • Don’t lose heart
    • Remember who you are praying to
    • Pray that others will recognize who God is too
    • Pray for God’s will versus what you want
    • Look to God for your needs
    • Ask God for forgiveness
    • Ask God to protect you from temptation
    • Pray for those who persecute and abuse you.
    • Forgive others when you pray
    • Trust God
    • Pray Jesus sends out more people to save the lost
  • Pray Like Jesus did
    • Pray alone
    • Pray without distractions
    • Prioritize prayer
    • Pray for the faith of your brothers and sisters
    • Pray for the church
    • Be honest with God
    • Pray to God as your Father

What an awesome God we have! He is a God who listens. He is a God who cares.

He is a God who sent His only begotten Son so that some day we won’t only have prayer to converse with Him.

Instead, we’ll spend eternity with Him.

But, until then…

Do not pray like Jesus said not to.

Pray like Jesus said to.

Pray like Jesus did.


Follow Traditores

Your thoughts?