vendredi 28 février 2014

Praying Great Prayers


This is a briefing of the message i have preached at Living Word Association (LWA) last Saturday and the subject was praying great prayers.


 “And David girded his sword on his armor, and he tried to go. But he had not tested it. And David said to Saul, I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them. And David put them off him.” - 1Sa 17:39

David refused to go for war with a weapon he didn’t have the experience to use. I will do the same here, and only refer to life style Jesus had used as I have come to understand it.
When it comes to the subject of prayer, there is no easy way to explain it. Many years ago, due to a series of personal frustration about this subject I decided to no longer buy books related to prayers. And below, I will avoid quoting the wisdom that my fellow Christians have received from the Lord on this topic. I will simplify it for the readers. I will rather concentrate on Jesus life as a model of what would a great prayer lifestyle look like. Jesus life style had been tested and his biography is easily accessed by all, unlike that of many of his disciples over the century. Since we are Jesus disciple’s we will learn best from His example.
And it happened in those days that He went out into a mountain to pray, and He was spending the night in prayer to God.  And when it was day, He called His disciples. And He chose twelve of them, whom He also named apostles: Luke 6:12-13 
We learn 3 things about this verse,
1.    The mountains – There is a Place Jesus went
2.    The Night to the day – There is a Time frame His prayers took
3.    To God – There is an Object to His prayer - The Provider.
I will start from reverse order,

  1. God:
Jesus prayed to the God, the Father from whom all good things come from. He left us a partten. Jesus wanted us to know what was His source of all goodness, favor and blessings. He only had one, it was His Father. As one of Jesus disciples reckoned later on, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning.” - James 1:17 

The Psalmist knew the same truth, “I, even I, will call to God, and Jehovah  will save me.” He called on God for his salvation.” - Psalm 55:16 

  1. TIME & PLACE 
Jesus didn’t just pray in a hurry way. It is true that not all prayers Jesus made were long prayers as this could be seen in this episode of the resurrection of Lazarus,
Then they took away the stone where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.  And I know that You hear Me always, but because of the people who stand by I said it, so that they may believe that You have sent Me.” - John 11:41-42  

This was rather a short prayer I assume. It might not have taken hours or long minutes to utter a similar request to Father. It makes sense that Jesus wouldn’t make long prayer before a public. When he was in public, it was usually action time. Hence, leaving us also a model of short prayers before significant actions, such as resurrecting someone or multiplying breads.

  1. Time
 And it happened in those days that He went out into a mountain to pray, and He was spending the night in prayer to God.  And when it was day, He called His disciples. And He chose twelve of them, whom He also named apostles: ” Luke 6:12-13 

This may sound unusual, but Jesus took long hours in prayers before He selected his disciples. I learn from this that important decisions should be taken in prayers. And more importantly, there is nothing too important that we should leave it outside the realm of prayers – long, persistent and incessant prayers. It is astonishing that Jesus did take at time long moments of prayers in his private life, not only when he chose his 12 apostles. See below:
 “And rising up quite early in the night, He went out and went away into a deserted place, and He was praying there. And Simon, and those with him, searched for Him.  And finding Him, they said to Him, All are seeking You.” - Mar 1:35-37 

a.1. Jesus Praying Life

In Mark 1:35, Jesus prayed when it was still darker to the morning when the disciples and the rest of the public woke up which brings up the notion of time; and he prayed in a secluded or private place like a deserted place, bringing hence the notion of place. These two things are important. Let me first start with the subject of time.

a.2. There is a Time for Everything - Prayer

 “And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land.” - Mar 6:46

This event of Mark 6, is well known since after those long hours of prayers, Jesus rejoined the disciples by walking on water. In this episode, we learn that not only did Jesus look for a private place to make his long prayers, but that he also had a finite time for socializing. He didn’t sacrifice prayers over socializing or ministry. In this case, he requested the crowd and the disciples to leave him so that he could have some time of personal prayers. This is an important lesson for personal organization.
a.3 Jesus took important decision during prayers
 “And He [Jesus] said to them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful to death. Stay here and watch. And He went forward a little and fell on the ground. And He prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible to You. Take away this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.” - Mark 14:34-36.

In this episode of Jesus life, just before his betrayal and the cross, Jesus wrestled with a difficult decision. And he came over and over the final conclusion. We recognize the agony of Jesus before the cross but even in this time of ‘despair’, he never forsook prayers. He considered it important to speak with the Father over those very difficult issues and very difficult decisions of life. The account, tells us that Jesus might have done more than an hour in prayer to resolve this issue, as the context of the story reminds us that he woke up his disciples who couldn’t pray with him for just 1 hour.

  1. Place
As already shown in previous texts, finding a place was important for Jesus. The question is why? I believe that this text of one of Jesus disciple tells us why he needed to be alone in prayer:
 “[For Jesus], in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong cryings and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared,” - Hebrews 5:7 
Heb5:7 tells us of the intensity and the repetitive time of prayers Jesus had when he was on earth. He offered prayers to God with a lot of tears and crying. Having been repetitively in prayer sessions with people speaking to God from depth of their heart, I have witness some disturbing emotional behavior. And as it is for any emotional expression, when someone (Mr. A) is not feeling the same way with the one who expresses his feeling (Mr. B), then Mr. A will necessarily feel overwhelmed by the explosion of Mr. B emotions. And I suspect that this is the reason why Jesus looked for a secluded place, deserted places, mountains – in brief, places where there were no one in order for Him to pray God the Father and wrestle with the issues that pained him the most without creating scene for bystanders. It was sacred time and painful time for the Christ. There was nothing magical or supernatural about the deserted places or the mountains. There were just places where serious matter could have been dealt with in prayers, far from praying eyes.

The Psalmist felt the same at times, “Evening and morning, and at noon, I will pray and cry aloud; and He shall hear my voice.” Psalm 55:17 

This verse above speaks of the time invested in prayers, “Evening, Morning and at Noon” and it also reveals the intensity of the pray “Pray & cry aloud”. This happened to Jesus, to the Psalmist and to countless saints over history. There is nothing abnormal about it.
But because our pain or our emotion could be misunderstood, it is better to keep it private, as it is written, “So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.” - Romans 14:16 

Extra Info:
And when he had learned that the document was signed, Daniel went to his house. And his windows were open in his roof room toward Jerusalem; and he kneeled on his knees three times a day and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did before.”- Daniel 6:10   
Daniel 6:10 also make reference of 1) a private Place of prayer, in his case it was his house; 2) a Time of prayer: 3 times a day and 3) a Methodology of prayer: he prayed toward Jerusalem. For Christians the methodology is to pray the Father in the name of Jesus. We can knock on the door confidently because we know who the door to the Father is, namely Jesus. We can search and we will find because we know who the way to the Father is, namely Jesus.

Another point important to remember, even in Daniel’s life, despite the daunting task of the administration of the Kingdom of Babylon, he still had time – lengthy time if put together – during his heavy schedule to pray. So it was with the Psalmist who happened to be King David. He gave himself into prayers.

NB: “O my God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not answer; and in the night, and am not silent.Psalm 22:2 

Ps.22:2, we are informed that sometime a saint may well pray for a long time without immediately receiving a satisfying answer. When God doesn’t answer when you cry, what should we do?

My belief is to do like Jesus did in Gethsemane, keep praying! Paul followed the same methods, he kept praying after repeated failure to receive an answer – 3 times he insisted before he got his answer.

We are exhorted to remain pray full:
Continue in prayer and watch in it with thanksgiving,” Colossians 4:2 

For my love they are my foes; but I am in prayer.” “Psalm 109:4  

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