Friday, May 9, 2014

Praying Like Jesus: Thankfulness in your prayer-life

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."                                                 

Welcome to day five of your study through the prayer life of Jesus.  In this study we are aiming to pray like Jesus so as to become more effective in our prayer-life. Thus far we have considered:

1. Prayer's priority and power
2. Fellowship with God

3. Praying when making decisions
4. Praying for our enemies. 

In today's post we aim to consider how Jesus included thankfulness in His prayer-life. Jesus did 35 recorded miracles in the four Gospels. Though Jesus had the right and power to do what He did as God, He as a rule yielded accessing that right in favor of depending upon the Holy Spirit Who was His Companion, empowering Him as the Messiah. Luke 9:16 records the greatest of Jesus mass miracles - the feeding of the 5,000: "Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people." Jesus "blessed" or "acknowledged the grace and power of God" to His Heavenly Father. The heart of Jesus beat with thankfulness to His Father for the opportunity to feed the people to whom he was ministering. This particular miracle was significant in that Jesus was demonstrating Himself as the "Bread of Life", as well as representing the height of His popularity. Despite the throngs of people, by the time the miracle was over, almost all of them defected from Jesus. Despite that profoundly disappointing outcome, Jesus ever remained thankful and thus on target in His desire to complete the work assigned to Him by the Father.

As Jesus neared the cross we see Him on the eve of His crucifixion in Luke 22:17-19 "And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Notice what He does in the distribution of the elements of the bread and fruit of the vine - He had "given thanks". In the Passover Meal, of which this undoubtedly was, Jesus would had been distributing what the Jews called "The Cup of Redemption", commemorating God's deliverance of the Israelites in the Exodus from the hand of Pharaoh in Exodus 12-15. In giving thanks for that major event of redemption, Jesus was looking forward to what would be the greatest act of redemption - namely His own act.

The theme of thankfulness in Jesus' prayer life continues right through His post-resurrection appearances to His disciples. Luke in Luke 24:30 records: "When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them." Later on in the same chapter we read in vss 50-51 of how Jesus blessed His disciples as he ascended into Heaven. It is interesting how much we can link the blessing or thankfulness of Jesus to instances of eating and feasting in Luke. Truly thanksgiving in our prayer-life enables us to feast and enjoy the presence of the Father.

Point of Application: When was the last time you and I spent the majority of our prayer-time thanking the Lord? 1 Thessalonians 5:17 reminds us to "pray without ceasing. Jesus was ever thankful in His prayer-life and may we be the same in ours.

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