By Lim Chong Teck
“And it came to pass, as he was praying in a certain place, that when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, even as John also taught his disciples” Luke 11:1.
One of the things we can learn from the people of God who have a close relationship with God is their prayer life. We can notice the frequency of their prayer, the contents of their prayer and the things and people they prayed for. The bible even mentions the manner of prayer peculiar to the person. The scriptures tells us although the disciples could not fully recognize Jesus after His resurrection, yet when He gave thanks for the bread, they immediately realized that it was their Lord.
“And it came to pass, as he sat down at meat with them, he took bread and blessed it; and brake; and he gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread and how he was known of them in the breaking of the bread” Luke 24:30-31, 35 KJV.
It was obvious that they recognized how He prayed before His meal in many occasions.
“Jesus therefore took the loaves; and having given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down; likewise also of the fishes as much as they would” John 6:11. (Five bread & 2 fishes)
“And he commandeth the multitude to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he brake, and gave to his disciples, to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. And they had a few small fishes: and having blessed them, he commanded to set these also before them” Mark 8:6-7.
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me” Luke 22:19.
Daniel was a man known for his close walk with God and his prayer life. When the king’s court house got wind that King Darius wanted to make Daniel ruler over all of them, they devised a plan to find fault with him. When they could not find any fault in him they realized that the only way to find a fault in him was in his faithfulness to God and His law. They would have known of Daniel’s prayer life in order to come up with a cunning scheme (Dan 6:1-9). But that did not stop Daniel from praying to God.
“And when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house (now his windows were open in his chamber toward Jerusalem); and he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” Dan. 6:10.
Daniel continued his daily prayers and was faulted and punished by being put into the lion’s den. But God saved him from the lions and his adversaries were instead thrown to the lion’s mouth.
How many of us would continue our prayer to God if we are at risk of being punished or thrown into a lion’s den because we prayed? Do we feel ashamed when we pray to God to bless the food in public, in hospitals and other public places? Prayer reveals a person’s relationship with God. It reveals his character whether one have courage, persistency, and faith in God. Are we known to be a prayerful person?
The disciples of Christ saw the master’s prayer life and asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Can we see the prayer life of Christ? We can see the regularity of His prayer, the occasions that He prayed, the manner He prayed, the contents of His prayer and the prayer model that He taught his disciples. For today, let us consider the occasions when he prayed.
He prayed in the morning and evening.
“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” Mark 1:35.
“And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” Luke 6:12.
“With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” Isa 26:9.
There was a desire to seek God in prayer with the start of day and the end of the day. This desire resulted in a practice that became a daily affair. Paul himself also prayed daily and in his prayers, he remembered the Christians in Thessalonica and Timothy (1Thess 3:10 , 2 Tim1 :3).
He prayed for his service to God. He prayed at the start of his ministry.
“Now it came to pass, when all the people were baptized, that, Jesus also having been baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened” Luke 3:21.
He prayed before making the decision to choose the 12 apostles.
“And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;” Luke 6:12-13.
Do we pray as we start a work and as we make important decisions in our life?
Jesus prayed despite his busy schedule. In Mark 1:21-39, we can see that Jesus was very busy and His daily schedule was really packed. Yet He would get up early in the morning and pray. Again in Matt 14:13-23, after a busy day He made time to pray.
“And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone” Matt 14:23.
Do we find ourselves too busy to pray? Jesus found time to pray in spite of His busy schedule.
He prayed to meet the challenges of life.
“And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him” Luke 9:28-32.
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit yehere, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saithhe unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time,saying the same words. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me” Matt 26:36-46
One cannot fail to see in both moments the three disciples that Jesus brought along in prayer for these special occasions were found to be asleep. We can see the discipline and earnestness of prayer of Jesus in contrast to His disciples. We are to watch and pray for the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. We pray so that we don’t fall into temptation. In times of great challenges we easily fall prey to temptation. Prayer helps us to focus our minds on God and that helps us to be alert and at the same time we are able to draw strength from God as we put our trust in Him. We cannot be miraculously transformed like Jesus but many a times in prayer, our minds are transformd because of our focus on God. In prayer we learn to submit our wishes to His will and accept His plan for us.
Let’s not be lackadaisical in our attitude in prayer. In times of challenges we need the discipline and the earnestness to pray because we can be tired and “sleepy” both physically and spiritually during those times and fall into temptation.
Even in His final moments of His life, Jesus prayed.
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots” Luke 23:34.
“And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost” Luke 23:46.
In these moments we see His forgiving spirit, His commitment to the end and His trust in God.
We could say Jesus prayed without ceasing as in 1 Thess 5:17. Let’s emulate His example of praying all the time.