Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Praying Like Jesus: Decision making requires prayer

Hebrews 5:7 "In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety."

In today's post we consider two episodes in the life of Jesus that required great decisions to be made: choosing His Twelve Disciples and choosing to go to the cross. Though they are not the only instances, they represent some of the more important decisions that Jesus submitted to the Father in prayer.  

The first of these is found in Luke 6:12-13 "It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles". Jesus' decision of these men was prefaced by prayer. Why? As God Jesus would had known whom He was going to choose to be the ones to take the Gospel throughout the world following His resurrection and ascension into Heaven.  Furthermore, He indicates in His high priestly prayer of John 17:6 that these men were the ones whom the Father had "given to Him". Eleven of them were to remain ever faithful to Jesus, with one (Judas Iscariot) defecting and eventually betraying our Lord.  In God's Sovereign plan, even Judas had a place in the overall plan to bring our Lord to the cross. (John 13:18; Acts 2:23-24)  With that being said, Luke reminds us that Jesus at the same time chose to be a man and execute decisions such as the choosing of the twelve as a man.  In His humanity, Jesus Christ prayed all night to His Father, indicating His desire to do everything according to the Father's will.  The question that you and I need to ask is how willing are we to submit our decisions to the throne of God in prayer?

The second major decision we will consider in which we see Jesus submitting a major decision is in Luke 22:39-46 "And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. 40 When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” As God Jesus had already agreed with the Father in eternity to come to earth and pay the price for our salvation. (Hebrews 10:5-10) As man, Jesus would need to willingly affirm to the Father what He had already agreed to do in eternity - namely to go to the cross. This decision included prayer. Was Jesus just going through the motions, even though He knew what needed to be done? No. Rather as our perfect human representative, He recognized that God ordained prayer as a means of fulfilling His will.  Jesus had to not only be able, but willing to go to the cross.  Prayer enables our "chooser" - the will - to be brought into alignment with God's purposes.

Point of application: What major decision are you facing in life? You and I are the sum total of our choices. Jesus exemplified the important truth of submitting our decisions to God in prayer.  Think of your prayer time before the throne as a time to examine that decision under God's search light.  Often when we pray about our decisions, great or small, clarity and insight are often found and we come out of prayer having certainty about what we need to do.  Jesus never presumed on God, meaning He never attempted anything, no matter how noble or even Godly, on the basis of assumption.  Rather Jesus did everything He did based upon His relationship and fellowship with the Father.  May you and I submit our decision making to prayer and apply prayer to our decision making.  Only when we have put prayers to our feet can we then know how to put feet to our prayers.

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