|How to pray||6:5-15||11:1-13|
|For himself, his followers||17|
In the Lord's prayer, Jesus' prayer requests include: the establishment of God's kingdom and will, provision of our daily needs, forgiveness, and rescue from temptation and evil. He does not tell us to pray for lots of earthly goods - rather, we are to pray that today's needs would be met (Matthew 6:34). He does not tell us to beat ourselves up for sins that we've committed - rather, we are to pray for forgiveness for past sins, wise guidance to avoid future sins, and rescue when we fall into sin. We can pray honestly and straightforwardly about these things because "your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matthew 6:8) The dear disciple Peter tells us to "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) If Peter, the one who denied his Lord with cursing (Mark 14:66-72), can say this, then we know that God will mercifully embrace those who come to him with a contrite heart. The Lord's prayer is a sword and shield for daily spiritual warfare.
I bet most of you have at least heard of "the Lord's prayer." But how many of you know about Jesus' prayer in John 17? If you're a believer, then Jesus prays for you there! (Curious to know what he prays for? Take a look starting from verse 20.) In the chapter, Jesus prays for his disciples and those who would come to believe in the future. Some of his prayer requests are for their unity, protection from the evil one, sanctification, that they would see his glory, that God's love would be in them, and that he would be in them. In the very beginning of the chapter, he prays for himself. His requests have a goal in mind: to glorify God. Do I long to glorify God and center my prayer requests around this goal?
As a side note, Jesus calls himself "Jesus Christ, whom You have sent" (v3) and refers to a time before the Creation when he was with the Father (v5).
Lately, I've been struggling with how to pray for my enemies. Should I ask for earthly blessings upon them? Should I pray for their salvation? Is it right for me to pray for someone else's salvation? What did Jesus mean when he commanded that I pray for those who persecute me (Matthew 5:44)? I wonder if this passage is one piece of the puzzle. The actions of the guilty cry out for vengeance (Genesis 4:10, 2 Chronicles 24:22), but where is the voice of mercy crying out for pardon? The voice of mercy is here in this verse from Luke. "...It is God who justifies." (Romans 8:33)
These are two very different prayers, but they both worship God with praise and thanksgiving.
"At that time Jesus, [was] full of joy..." He addresses God as "Father, Lord of heaven and earth" and he talks about matters which please God. What were these matters? That God delights in the humble and reveals Himself to those who come to Him as little children. Children have no great diplomas or mighty deeds to offer God, they only have their hearts. "Believe me...a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." (John 4:21)
Jesus thanks God for hearing him. He speaks to God with confidence that 1. God is there, 2. God hears him, 3. God always hears him. Even when Jesus cried out from the cross, "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?" Psalm 22 tells us that "He [has not] hidden His face from Him, but when He cried to Him, He heard." As I believe this to be a Messianic Psalm, I read and see that Jesus himself confirms in the same Psalm "You have answered Me." If we pray trusting in the Lord, we can have confidence that we are heard because God always heard when his son spoke to him (Matthew 17:5). "Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy." (Psalm 28:6)
|Into Your hands||23:46|
Jesus obeyed His Father's will.
This might sound easy, but it surely wasn't. There were times when Jesus said: "my heart is troubled" (John 12) and "my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death" (Matthew 26). Jesus struggled just as we do (Hebrews 4:15). But He found power by remembering who God is "You are He who took me out of the womb/You made me trust while on my mother's breasts" (Psalm 22) and by remembering what God was planning to do through him, "what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour" (John 12). Jesus was able to rely on God even when his heart was troubled and his body crushed. Remembering that our Lord was human like us and yet victorious in all things, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)
Other notes: Jesus on more than one occasion "looked toward heaven and prayed" (John 17). I think these occasions were when others were present with him, but I would need to confirm that. When Jesus goes off to pray alone in the garden, he kneels and prays very earnestly with great struggle.
Since God is the one who calls and chooses, is it right for me to pray for others' salvation? If not, how can I pray for my enemies? If I cannot pray for their salvation, then what would God want me to pray for them? Jesus asks God to forgive his enemies - is that what he means when he tells me to pray for my enemies? "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us." I have recently discovered what is called "intercessory repentance." I've found it to be a really freeing gift. I plan to write more about it later.