In case you're wondering where these posts are coming from. I am preaching each Thursday for the Young Adults at Harvest Bible Chapel in Naperville. After preparing the messages I figured I could throw in a modified manuscript here on the blog. In case you missed the first one on Holy Spirit Dependence read it over here.
I love great friendships. People who know you, have been with you and love you anyway. The kind of people that even if you haven't seen them in years you can pick right back up where you left off.
The hard part is staying in contact with great friends if you live far from each other. Thankfully we live in a world where technology makes it easier, but still it takes effort. I was thinking of a great friend of mine and was missing him and decided to leave him a message just to tell him how amazing he was. Next thing I know I had an incoming facetime request from the other side of the world.
Great friendships take work, but it's worth it.
It's the same with prayer.
Christ placed a huge priority on prayer and made the time and effort for it in his life. Let's take a look at a few of the times he prayed
1. Jesus prayed at the beginning of a new season.
Mark 1:35-39 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Jesus at the beginning of his ministry was about to embark on trip preaching throughout Galilee. Where do we find him? Up early in the morning praying.
We have all been in situations where we are about to start something new. Here we observe Jesus on the cusp of the same thing and what is his first priority, he gets away to pray. Why should you and I pray in the beginning of a new season? So we can seek the Lord's leading, surrender our passions and desires to him, and recognize we can't anything apart from him. Now some of you might say well Jesus was about to start in ministry and yes you are correct and then you'll say well i am not starting in ministry this doesn't apply. Let me stop you there. understand what we are about as a church. Life is ministry so whatever job, whatever school, whatever endeavor you begin it is ministry. Pray for open doors, opportunities to be a light, share the gospel.
2. Jesus prayed when there was a need.
Mark 6:41-42 And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied.
In the Lord's prayer when it says give us this day our daily bread. We are told to pray for what we need. Not what we want. I really would like a nice steak tonight from Morton's so God if you could make that work that would be great. When there is a need we should come to the Father in prayer. it might be a financial need, physical need, etc
3. Jesus prayed when situations seemed hopeless.
Mark 7:34-35 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.
This was a miracle that Jesus performed on a man who was both deaf and could not speak. A situation that seemed hopeless for this man.
Now you might not have a physical abnormality such as this man but I am confident that most of us have been in a situation that appears hopeless. In those moments we must pray. Come to the Father in prayer and seek Him first. Although the situation might be hopeless you can have hope in the midst of it because your hope is in Christ. That comes from time spent in prayer. True change in your heart doesn't come from will power and tightening your bootstraps it comes from seeking the Lord in prayer and admitting you need his help. All throughout the Psalms David cries out to the Lord in times of difficulty and by the end of the psalm he is declaring who God is and how He is victorious.
4. Jesus prayed for the next generations spiritual growth.
Mark 10:13-16 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
The lesson for us is that we are to be praying for the next generations spiritual growth. I am passionate about the next generation. It's what I do. Praying for students is part of my passion. Investing my life in young people is why we are moving our family to Croatia. We should be passionate about the next generation.
EM Bounds said "Prayers are deathless. They outlive the lives of those who uttered them."
5. Jesus prayed when discerning God's will.
Mark 14:35-36 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
The intensity of Christ's prayer in this moment was so burdensome that in Luke it is mentioned that beads of blood fell as he prayed. We all face times when we are trying to discern the will of God. God is calling us to be godly decision makers. In being a godly decision makers we are discerning His will and this is what Jesus was doing. He asked for teh Father to remove the cup from him but he recognized not my will but your will be done.
"Prayer honors God, acknowledges His being, exalts His power, adores His providence, secures His aid."
6. Jesus prayed when circumstances appeared overwhelming.
Luke 5:15-16 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
Now was Jesus overwhelmed? He was being swarmed with crowds and people who were in need. Recognize that Jesus was a man of flesh and blood. He got tired, he got hungry, he is our model. He would withdraw to pray. How often do we get overwhelmed.
The busier Jesus became the more he prayed.
Many of you might be aware of our family situation with our son Griffin I want to share something with you that I haven't shared before. I want to communicate through the lens of Amber, my wife. In the spring of 2011 I was in the hospital with Griffin and she was 9 months pregnant with our youngest. If there was ever an overwhelming moment for a wife and mother it was at that moment. Barely being able to move, trying to figure out how long Griffin would still be in the hospital, and wondering when the new baby would come was overwhelming. All the while she was caring for our other two children. She gave birth on May 22nd and I left one hospital where my Griffin was to go to another hospital to be with her. After being with her for about 24 hours I then left to go back to be with Griffin where I would remain for another two and a half weeks. The emotions that come after a baby are lots to deal with already but throw on top of it the pain of the unknown for her other child who was still in the hospital. A family not complete. She was incredibly overwhelmed and would call me in tears saying "John doesn't God know I can't take any more?" I had no response. A friend of hers in that time brought her a simple little book that helped change everything about her perspective. It became her prayer in the midst of overwhelming situation. She went to the Lord and began to thank Him for the sunshine, for the most simple things and it began to change everything. It appeared overwhelming all right and the only way through it was coming to the Father in prayer.
7. Jesus prayed when facing difficult decisions.
Luke 6:12-13 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles:
Should I go to that school? Should I marry this girl? Should we have children? Should I take that job? How will we make ends meet this month? Should I serve in that ministry? Should confess that sin? Should I find help with the problem I have?
I don't think it was an accident to see Jesus praying all night before he chose the twelve. These would be the men who would go and turn the world upside down by spreading the gospel. There was a lot of difficult decision making that went into it.
8. Jesus prayed when dealing with confusion
Luke 9:18-20 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
Here we see Jesus addressing the confusion of those that were following him. he was in prayer and immediately speaks up and says who do the people say I am?
Now praying when dealing with confusion, it could be your own confusion or others. Either way as you look in this passage the most crystal clear statement is made. Jesus is the Christ of God. There is no confusion in that. He is the answer. He is the way.
As we look at Jesus and his prayer life we learn three things for us to adopt in our own lives:
- Prayer is a Priority - He prayed in every circumstance. Jesus knew the importance of the power of prayer in his life. It was a priority for him, it must be a priority for us.
- Prayer is a Privilege - Think about the fact that we have the opportunity to come to the Father and bring our needs and our praise. That is a privilege.
- Prayer is a Partnership - It's a relationship. It takes work. But it is worth it.
I leave you with this last verse to encourage you to seek the Lord in prayer today.
Jeremiah 33:2-3 “Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it—the LORD is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known."