Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Priority of Prayer - By Pastor Jim Tharp

Even though most people believe in prayer, I would remind us that it is not a natural instinct. Rather, it is a spiritual need. It is as much a need for a born-again Christian as it is for a newly-born baby to cry for milk.

Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who came from Heaven to become one of us—the Son of God becoming the Son of Man—is our example for prayer. Even though He was the Son of God, He needed to pray to His Father in Heaven. Although He never sinned and was absolutely holy, He needed to pray to His Father and give thanks. In His humanity, He needed strength for His earthly mission. Jesus’ main purpose in coming to earth was to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins—it was His assignment by the Father; and in His human needs, He must pray for His needs—wisdom and strength.

Jesus selected twelve men whom He called His disciples, who would become His apostles, to be trained and sent forth to proclaim the Gospel, the good news that anyone who would believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord would be forgiven of sin and receive eternal life. These believers would not be lost eternally, but they would be redeemed, regenerated, reclaimed as children of God.

These twelve apostles became greatly interested in the way Jesus prayed. They knew that He often slipped away to be alone in prayer with the Father. But at times they would overhear His praying. They listened carefully to His prayers.

Once, when Jesus was apart praying, they grew interested and moved closer to hear how He was praying. They were impressed with His worship of the Father, His trust in the Father to hear Him, how intent and fervent He grew in His praying at times. So, on this occasion they made the request, “Lord, teach us to pray!”

Now Jesus knew that some of these twelve had been followers of John the Baptist, His forerunner. And He knew that John had taught them about prayer. But Jesus also knew that He wanted to teach His disciples a way to pray in which, when He and the Father, send them the Holy Spirit to indwell them, they would be enabled to pray with power—be inspired to pray, enlightened to pray, energized to pray, and emboldened in praying.

So Jesus laid out a model prayer for them. He also wanted to teach them how to pray with confidence and persistence. In Luke’s Gospel, chapter 11:2-4, Jesus answers their request in brief, simple, and comprehensive form. There are seven petitions:

1. “Our Father … in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.”