Jesus, Man of Prayer

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” —Luke 11:9

THERE is no single definition of prayer which embraces all that it means to the people of God. There are prayers of thanksgiving and praise to God for all his benefits. There are prayers of the penitent, asking God’s forgiveness for sin. There are prayers that are requests for God’s care, guidance, and protection in every time of need. Jesus did not need to pray for forgiveness, for he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. Jesus did, however, often go to his Heavenly Father with thanksgiving upon his lips and in his heart; and he also sought his Father’s guidance in doing the work that he had been sent into the world to accomplish.

There are also prayers of dedication, when one goes to God in full surrender, to do his will, offering to enter into his service. It was probably this sort of prayer that Jesus offered, as reported in Luke 3:21,22, when the Holy Spirit came upon him. The account does not mention the nature of this prayer, but it could have been the one prophetically written for him in Psalm 40:7,8: “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” It was when Jesus thus dedicated himself to do his Father’s will that he received the Holy Spirit.

There were times when Jesus sought out deserted places, that he might be alone to commune with his Heavenly Father. There were times also when he simply desired to retreat from the milling crowds to rest. Luke 4:42 mentions his going into a “desert place” but makes no mention of his praying. This may have been one of the occasions when he sought a quiet place to rest.

Luke 5:16 mentions another time when the Master withdrew from the multitude, and here the record tells us that he did pray. As his fame spread abroad and great multitudes came together to hear and to be healed, Jesus sensed his need of help from above. Too often his followers, when the Lord blesses their efforts, forget to pray. In fact, prayer Is too often thought of as being necessary only when one is in trouble.

Luke 6:12 informs us of a time when Jesus “went out into a mountain to pray.” It says also that “he continued all night in prayer to God.” The Emphatic Diaglott translates the latter part of this text to read, “He remained through the night in the oratory of God.” A footnote in the Emphatic Diaglott says that the Greek word here used denotes “a large uncovered building with seats, as in an amphitheatre, and used for worship where there was no synagogue.” It may well be that Jesus actually prayed all night, but apparently the Greek text simply indicates that he spent the night in this place of prayer. Undoubtedly, however, he did commune much with his Father that night.

Luke 9:18 speaks of Jesus being “alone praying,” yet apparently his disciples were with him. “Alone” in this instance would mean away from the multitude. Jesus did not pray to be seen and heard of men, as did the Pharisees in their display of an outward form of righteousness. In John 11:41 and 42 we have a record of a prayer that was purposely spoken by Jesus loudly enough for the people to hear. As Jesus said, however, the purpose was to let them know that the miracle he was about to perform was possible because God had sent him and because God had heard him and would help him.

After Jesus’ prayer of dedication at the river Jordan, he heard his Father speak to him and say, “Thou art my beloved son; in thee I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22) Likewise, following his prayer on the Mount of Transfiguration, the voice of his Father was again heard, saying, “This is my beloved Son: hear him.” (Luke 9:28,35) What a wonderful response to prayer!

In Luke 10:21 we have one of the Master’s prayers of thanksgiving. He thanked God for the way he was carrying on his work, that he was not revealing the mysteries of the kingdom to the worldly-wise and prudent, but to the “babes,” the meek and lowly, those who were poor in spirit and teachable.

It was only natural that the disciples, noting that Jesus was a man of prayer, should ask him to teach them to pray, and he did. As an outline, he gave them what is known as The Lord’s Prayer. It is a recognition of the sacredness of God’s name, a prayer for his promised kingdom, a simple request for daily needs, a plea for forgiveness and for deliverance from evil. All these blessings, including the kingdom to come, have been promised by God; so acceptable prayer on our part is simply claiming the promises of God. If we always ask in harmony with God’s will, we will, as our text states, be sure of receiving a favorable answer.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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