Saturday, May 10, 2014

Praying Like Jesus - Encouraging others to pray

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." 

These past five days have been dedicated to looking closer into Jesus' prayer-life to learn how to prayer-like Him. We have discovered five important principles: 

1. Prayer's power & priority
2. Fellowship
3. Significance in our decision making
4. Praying for one's enemies 
5. Thankfulness.  

Jesus consistently practiced each of those elements and so much more, modeling to us what effective prayer looks like, sounds-like and acts-like. Today's post features another very important element in learning to pray like Jesus - namely encouraging others to pray. Jesus did not keep His prayer-life to Himself, but gradually taught His disciples to pray and urged those listening to Him to do the same.

Luke 9:28-29 states: "Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming." This is the episode where Jesus gives the disciples a sneak peak into His undiminished Deity shining through His full humanity. Among the twelve disciples that followed Jesus throughout His ministry, there was an inner circle composed of Peter, James and John. Those three were invited by the Lord to come pray. In prayer we find that situations or issues that are closed to us in the realm of our thoughts or emotions are opened up when we go into prayer. Jesus desired to reveal His glory to these men, and chose to do so in the context of their corporate prayer. His desire for them was to pray.

Luke 19:45-46 depicts another episode where Jesus is cleansing the temple: "Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling, 46 saying to them, 'It is written, ‘And My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a robbers’ den.”'  Twice in Jesus' ministry we find Him cleansing the temple, both at the onset of His ministry (John 2) and here in Luke 19 at the near end. Why did Jesus do this? Because the outer courts of the temple had become a place of commerce, greed and dried-up ritual. 

The principle laid down by Jesus regarding the Jewish Temple as being a "house of prayer" is one which the Father had revealed concerning the tabernacle being a place where the priests would represent the people in offerings and prayer. 

Later on in the Old Testament we see this same principle of the temple being a "house of prayer" as spoken by Solomon in the dedication of Israel's first temple in 2 Chronicles 7:14. As Jesus placed a premium on prayer in His private life, He demanded that prayer be a major priority in the life of His people. The New Testament church is still to carry on this important principle of praying like Jesus and urging others to do the same, being that Christians are corporately identified as a Kingdom of Priests (1 Peter 2:9-12) that offer up prayers on behalf of people. (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Jesus invited others to join Him in prayer by means of example and exhortation.

Point of Application: If people were to look at our lives from afar, would they be able to tell that we are a praying people? Do we believe Jesus enough to say that prayer is so important that we could by our example and by encouragement convince others to pray? It is a challenging thought but a true one that needs to be applied. Jesus set the tone for how we as His people were to pray, not only as individual believers but as a corporate body of saints - His church. Simply praying for someone or even with someone can leave an impact. May you and I follow the lead of our Lord and pray - and then encourage others to do the same.

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