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Learning Prayer from Jesus

When Jesus performed a miracle, the disciples didn’t ask, “How can we do that?” They had been given similar power. They never requested His instruction on the best way to challenge the Pharisees. Only when He prayed did they say, “Lord, teach us.” What was it about Jesus’ prayers that made the disciples ask the question?

The New Testament records only five of Jesus’ prayers. (Matthew 6:9–13 / Luke 11:2 – 4; Matthew 11:25; John 17:1–26; Luke 22:42; Luke 23:34) Other than these examples, our Lord prayed alone, privately and away from people. Yet it was His praying that impressed the disciples and caused them to ask, “Lord, teach us to pray.” What was it about Jesus’ prayer that made His disciples want to learn to pray like Him?

No matter what it was, the Lord answered them. He said, “When you pray…” The Lord assumed that prayer would be part of our lives. He did not say, “If you pray.” He expected prayer to be the natural, ongoing desire of life. Paul assumed this also, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) “In everything…pray.” (Philippians 4:6) Do you and I think that way? When we get up each morning, do we launch our day with prayer, or is prayer like dialing 911 only in emergencies, to get us through some crisis? Our Lord assumed we would be praying, and shouldn’t we? Prayer ought to precede anything we do.

Jesus also told the disciples, “When you pray, go into your room.” (Matthew 6:6) He was counteracting the Pharisees’ habit of praying in public for show so they would be noticed. The preface to prayer is humility. It is best when unnoticed by others.

“Your Father sees and hears your prayers and will reward you,” Jesus said. When we pray, we do so in the authority of Jesus’ name. We must remember that our only access in prayer is in the name of Jesus and not in the merit of the act of our praying.

[Jesus] frequently went to an isolated place to pray. He even left His ministry to the people to pray privately. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35) Do you have a place where you meet the Lord privately, where you can be alone with God?

Solitude and rest are related. You and I will find that when we are frustrated, stressed, irritable, forgetful, detached, or annoyed, the cause is that we’re not rested. We need time alone when we can restore our soul by praying. Prayer brings peaceful healing and renewal. It is the most intimate spiritual relationship with God.

“Teach us to pray,” the disciples said. And God’s Word reassures, ”Come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may [receive] mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, KJV)

We have God's Promise

A promise is a verbal contract; it is an expression of surety or guarantee. A promise is not always applicable in the present but more expected to be in the future. Its power depends entirely on the character of the person making it. The promise has credibility only in the capacity of the person to guarantee it.

We are all human and make mistakes, and we don’t always have the ability to follow through on promises that we make. But God’s character is perfect, and He has the complete capacity to guarantee any promise that He makes.

The promise [to Abraham] was an immutable covenant for a land, a nation, a kingdom, and a Redeemer. We read these prophecies in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, and they are being fulfilled in our lifetime…Scripture records that “after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” (Heb. 6:15, KJV) Notice that there is a gap between when God gave the promise and when Abraham received it. This is true of many promises. When someone says he is going to do something, a waiting period is often anticipated.

That time spent in waiting for a promise to be fulfilled is when faith envisions the outcome. It’s in that gap that we can delight in God. In this interval, we trust the one making the promise. Faith is trusting what is said and trusting the person who said it. Faith is defined as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1, KJV)

We are “heirs” of God’s promise. (Heb. 6:17) An heir is someone who is promised to receive something…The Lord Jesus provided a last will and testament. The witnesses are the Holy Spirit and God the Father. The Trinity agrees; no one can alter the conditions. The promise designating us as heirs has eternal value based on the quality and the capacity of God, who made the agreement. When Christ died, His will became effective. We have become his heirs.

“I have made a promise,” God says. His capacity, His capability, and His character are flawless. Therefore His promise is based on who He is. He cannot lie. He cannot abrogate. He cannot deceive. He cannot deny Himself. He cannot change. He cannot revise or go back on his word.

There are fifteen different words for the word that we translate “hope.” Hope is absolute assurance. The word has no doubt or hesitation in it. When we say, ”My hope is in the Lord,” look at the object of the hope. We can have full confidence in God’s promises because we can have full faith in His character.

The text calls our hope an “anchor.” The hope we have in Jesus is the anchor for the soul—something sure and steadfast, preventing drifting or giving way, lowered to the depth of God’s love. Christ is our anchor. Through all of the crises of life—and we all are going to experience them—we have this magnificent Anchor. This hope has sustained all the patriarchs, martyrs, and all the followers of Jesus through all their conflicts from Creation until now, and it will until eternity.

Be Bold in Prayer

We never have “enough” of the Lord. If the Lord has all of us, then the Lord will give us more of Himself. If we don’t hunger and thirst after righteousness, we’ll become anemic and feel miserable in our Christian experience.

The author [of Hebrews] feared his readers would end up being just like the people of Israel before Jesus. They saw God do wonderful things for them, even bring them out of slavery into freedom in their own country, yet they complained, argued, and craved what was not good for them. They really wanted to reverse what God had done. They longed to be back in Egypt…People who procrastinate provoke God. We all need to move on. Your present level of spiritual growth is always unacceptable.

In Acts 4:29, we read that when the believers felt threatened and stuck, they prayed, “Grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.” (KJV) Verse 31 says, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together. They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”

If we are to come to the throne of grace to receive help in time of need, shouldn’t we show assertiveness? As we come to Him, we come with a confidence that He hears us. Great boldness does not disregard His holiness nor is it disrespectful.

In prayer, we are in the presence of God. He’s right there with us. He’s in our hearts. The apostles preached that Christ is in us, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27), that our bodies are the temple of the living God (1 Cor. 6:19). If that’s true, why are we not bold when we call on God? In our singing? In our praise and worship?

We can have boldness in prayer because of the blood of Christ. He’s the perfect Savior. He’s the glorified Intercessor. He’s the reigning King. He rose from the dead, and all power in heaven and earth is His. And He offers this power to us.

There are two things we need for this confidence. First, “let us draw near (Heb.10:22). Eliminate all distractions. Go boldly to the throne of grace. Don’t hesitate. Don’t allow any distance between you and the Lord.

Second, “Let us hold fast the [acknowledgement] of our faith without wavering; ‘for he is faithful who promised.’” (Heb. 10:23, KJV) Let us approach and let us hang on and never let go. Faith and our confession come together. His grace secures our faith. Never let up. Never give up.

As the Scripture says, we can come confidently unto the throne of grace because of the redemption of Christ, who, as our High Priest, sacrificed Himself for us. Come near. Don’t shy away; don’t hang back. Come to the throne often for Jesus Christ is Lord.