Have you ever watched on old TV show like Marcus Welby MD? Or Dr. Kildare? If you’re under the age of 40, you’ve probably never heard of these shows. Old television shows were fairly predictable. Doctors would often have a difficult case. They would do their best, and then say to the family, “all we can do now is pray.”
Most of us live like the patient’s family in the old television show. Prayer is only seen as a last resort. People trust so little in prayer, that a football pass is named after the famous Catholic prayer; “the Hail Mary pass,” (its actually called “the rosary,” but that doesn’t sound cool for broadcasters).
The Hail Mary pass indicates, “throw the ball as far as you can, and see what happens.” What a dismal view of prayer.
In modern times, we have social media. Every moment of every day, someone is asking for “prayer, thoughts, good vibes, and karma” – all in one breath. Unfortunately, even many followers of Jesus post such things. It reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, when she is talking with the Cheshire Cat:
Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here? (Alice) “That depends a good deal on where you want to go,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where-” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
If we don’t care where our prayers go, then it doesn’t matter where they go. However, if we expect that God will get involved in the prayer, then there is a specific way to pray. It is difficult, it isn’t limited to only a certain kind of people, it isn’t guess work; it is, as a man named Claude Gladden said, “…prayer is the most powerful thing in the world.”
- Prayer is offered to the Father, in the name of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Read these wonderful words from St. Paul’s letter to Timothy: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” I Timothy 2:5 This sounds as the words of Christ himself. Speaking to the twelve, He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. (NIV)
Now, as the Cat told Alice, any road will do, if you have no care where you’re going. Here’s the truth, often in life we genuinely don’t know where we are going! As a matter of truth, we are lost and in need of someone to rescue us from the wrong way we are headed. God’s wonderful promise is that when we partner with God in prayer, He prays for us with groans that cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit also helps our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (NKJV)
My friend Fr. David Bartholomew describes the work of the Godhead as “trying to out love the other one.” What Dave means, if I understand him, is that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in constant relationship with one another, doing their job…and loving it! This is why going straight to the source isn’t about being a “rule” but rather a relationship. “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” John 6:37 NIV
2. Jesus needed to pray. Here’s Jesus, the sinless Son of God, born to die for the sins of the world, healing the sick, casting out devils, teaching, serving… and He needed to pray. I would submit that he needed to pray because of all that He did, and He did all that He did because He needed to pray. “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” Hebrews 5:7, NIV.
Read that verse again. It says that Jesus prayed regarding being saved from death…and he was heard. You might scratch your head, and think, “but He died.” Yes, but apparently his resurrection from the dead was directly tied to his prayer life!
Jesus prayed to his Father; while people were listening, or in private. Luke 5:16 says that he withdrew to a lonely place to pray. In the next chapter, Jesus goes out to a mountainside and prays all night long, (Luke 6:12).
Can we just pause and realize that if Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we need to pray?
3. Jesus taught us to pray. By example, and by teaching, Jesus taught his disciples, (followers of Jesus), how to pray. Many of us are familiar with what is called “the Lord’s prayer.” This prayer, both in practice and principle, was given to the disciples upon their request. Luke 11 records, “…teach us to pray.” By this time, the twelve apostles had witnessed the teaching, miracles, and disciplined life of Jesus. These Jewish men were not ignorant of the idea of prayer or even the activity of prayer. They had grown up, most likely, in a Jewish home that included morning and evening prayers. What they noticed in Jesus was something more than duty; they witnessed the results of a praying man.
4. Jesus still prays for us. Perhaps you wonder what Jesus did when He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. What’s Jesus been doing for the past 2,000 years? He’s been praying. The Bible tells us that He, “…sat down at the right hand of throne of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 8:1). This, as we discover when studying the tabernacle in the wilderness, is called the Mercy Seat. He is in the holy of holies, and as the High Priest of our salvation, makes perpetual intercession for us. He is there, receiving the prayers and cries of those who call upon His name, to save us to the uttermost, (Hebrews 7:25).
We need to pray! We need to pray, not just because of the general idea, but because God has put eternity into our hearts, (Ecclesiastes 3:11). God has placed within everyone the desire to seek Him, and has made the way through Jesus. At this moment in time, God is making appearances to people that have never heard the name of Jesus, much less the triune Godhead.
- God has revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so that mankind can see the wonderful love of God.
- God has revealed Himself through Jesus; God who became a man, (and is now a glorified man), and prayed while on earth – both as example, and as His personal need.
- Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father, and He is the only way to God. He yearns and intercedes for mankind perpetually.
- You and I, with the prompting and help of the Holy Spirit, can and should have a vibrant prayer life – it is the eternal model to be repeated again and again. To coin a phrase, “prayer itself is the answer to pray.
Let us pray!