The Prayer Life of Jesus

There are two things I want to share today and they both relate to prayer.

 

First, let’s be honest about it. While prayer is something we all need to do, it is something many struggle to do. Reading the Gospels gives us the chance to see what the original disciples saw—Jesus knew how to pray. Our Lord’s prayer life was so obvious that even His closest disciples asked Him to show them how to do it (Luke 11:1). Knowing that we all need Jesus’ help, I thought that we might benefit from seeing a little of what the disciples saw.

 

When it comes to prayer, Jesus offered both precepts (what He taught) and practices (what He did). In this article I will focus on His practice, but I do so recognizing that much of His prayer life was likely in secret and so not recorded in the Gospels. In Matthew 6, Jesus taught that we should go into our inner room to pray in secret and Luke 5:16 records that Jesus “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” All this to say that the gospel account of Jesus’ prayer life is likely only the tip of the iceberg.

 

The first thing to note is how prayer was woven into every part of Jesus’ life. It was a nonnegotiable part of each day and an expected response to life’s circumstances. Mark records that Jesus prayed often and as part of His daily rhythm. We know He prayed in the early morning and deep into the night (1:35; 6:46). The busyness and stress caused by “the whole city” looking for Him did not keep Him from praying and His prayers were not thwarted by impatience or temptations to sin.[i] He prayed at His baptism, for guidance (in selecting the 12), for strength to do mighty works, to stand against temptation and when He was dying.[ii]

 

We also know that His prayers contained different elements. While on the Mount of Transfiguration, His prayers opened the way for fellowship with His Father’s presence.[iii] While many prayers were filled with thanks and praise, others carried requests that He made with “loud cries and tears.”[iv] Finally, we know He prayed for young children (blessing), His enemies (reconciliation and peace), His disciples and us (unity and protection).[v]

 

This overview only scratches the surface; it is far from exhaustive. Even so it helps fill in the picture of our Lord’s prayer life as it clarifies a model for our own. And this brings me to the other thing I wanted to share today.

 

I need to go away and pray. You may remember that I tried to do this last spring but was thwarted by a tiny, microscopic organism called COVID-19. The statewide shutdown disrupted many things, including my plans for a prayer retreat. Even though the opportunity was lost, the invitation was not silenced. In fact, it feels like the invitation to seek Him has only intensified and now includes what feels like a command to stop what I am doing and make space for Jesus. The length for this time remains as it did in the spring—three weeks to withdraw and pray (see my posts on February 28, March 6 and 13 for more background). But prayer is not the only thing on my heart.

 

In the summer of 2019, Anne and I began talking with two other families who have sons like our Michael, young men with significant intellectual and developmental disabilities (known as I/DD). By June of 2020 we had formed OAISIS Community, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a neurodiverse residential community within Tippecanoe county. (Neurodiverse describes people of all intellectual and developmental abilities, both neurotypical and neurodivergent. Neurodivergent persons are also described as people with I/DD.)

 

The arrival of Oasis Community has brought a new and massive challenge into my life, one which I feel woefully under-equipped to help our team meet. Additionally, my current responsibilities at Covenant make it difficult to seek the training and answers I need to help move this vision forward in a timely manner. So, along with the desire to pray is my compelling need to learn about secular not-for-profit organizations and how God might want to answer some of the unanswerable questions OASIS Community faces (visit our nascent website, oasisforlife.org, if you want to know more). I’d like to give this five weeks.

 

As I have considered the weight of both needs, it seemed like now is the time to act and that merging these two needs together could result in one blessing the other. I know the timing with Covenant’s ministry rhythm does not make sense (it is, after all, fall kick off time!), but other options are clearly too far away.

 

I am grateful that Covenant’s renewal leave policy allows me to pursue both needs and am deeply humbled by the Lead Team’s encouragement and the Session’s unanimous support of my request. To sum it all up, I will be on renewal leave from September 11 through November 8, 2020 so that I may devote time to prayerful listening and personal equipping.

 

Please keep me, my family and OASIS in prayer. And thanks for understanding my need to completely disconnect from things at Covenant for this season. While I will be in town, I will not attend meetings or check email or voicemail (Please contact Radonna Fiorini if you have any questions, rfiorini@covenantepc.org). Even so, since I will continue in our Bible Reading Journey, and since writing these posts helps me better engage with God’s word, I plan to continue writing this blog for as many Fridays as my schedule allows.

 

May the Lord meet each of us where we are and provide all we need to grow in Him.

 

Walking the path with you,

 

Rob

 

 

[i] Mark 1:33, 35, 37; Luke 11:5-10; 2 Corinthians 5:21

[ii] Luke 3:21; 6:12; Mark 9:29, Luke 22:44-46; 23:46

[iii] Luke 9:29-31

[iv] Luke 10:21, 22:17, 19; Hebrews 5:7

[v] Mark 10:16; Luke 23:34; John 17:9, 20-23