In our last session, we learned that the prophet Isaiah cast a vision for the future when God’s house, his temple, would again become a house of prayer.
This is a vision for God’s house to be filled with God’s people as a kingdom of priests offering joyful worship and prayers to God.
But for this to happen, a new and faithful High Priest had to come–the Lord Jesus Christ. The good news is that, through their union with him, they would become a kingdom of priests offering worship and prayers to God on behalf of his kingdom purposes on the earth.
When Jesus enters the world, he is bringing about a new age of kingdom prayer in which we are called by God to enter with him. So we should not be surprised when we find Jesus life on earth, from beginning to end, marked as a life of prayer.
When Luke writes his gospel of Luke and Acts, he gives us an amazing two-volume story of the life and teachings of Jesus. This whole story teaches us the importance of prayer and its role in the mission of advancing God’s kingdom on earth.
Birth of Jesus
Think about how much prayer permeated the story surrounding the birth of Jesus. When the birth of the Jesus’ forerunner, John the Baptist, was announced to Zechariah at the temple, Luke 1:10 tells us the people were standing outside praying. Zechariah responds with prophetic prayer. Mary, the mother of Jesus, breaks out in singing prayers of praise to God. Simeon takes the baby into his arms and prays. Anna gives thanks to God.
Baptism of Jesus
The first place we read of Jesus praying is at his baptism. While he was praying (Luke 3:21) the Holy Spirit descends on him in the form of a dove. This symbol marks the beginning of a new age, just as a dove marked a new era of grace in the story of Noah.
Temptation of Jesus
When Jesus is led into the wilderness to be tempted for forty days, we see the vital role of his prayers in accomplishing the Father’s will. As the last Adam he faces head on the temptations of Satan that defeated the first Adam. As the true Israel of God, Jesus also faces all the wilderness temptations that defeated the people of Israel in their wilderness. How did he do it? Primarily through prayer.
In Jesus’ Ministry
In Luke 5 we see, In the middle of all the demands of his great healing ministry, Jesus often withdrawing to a lonely place to pray to his Father.
In Luke 6, we learn that before he chooses the 12 disciples, he went out to the mountain to pray all night.
In Luke 9, after praying alone (9:18), he announces to his disciples, in a clearer way than ever before, his coming death and resurrection. Then he goes up to the mountain to pray (9:28). He takes Peter and James and John, and as he is praying he’s transfigured in front of them and they see his glory.
In Luke 11, the whole chapter is one of the greatest teachings in all of scripture about prayer. Here Jesus paints a revolutionary new picture of prayer as coming before God as a loving, heavenly Father, who loves to give his children good gifts. And it’s here the disciples are compelled to ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. We’ll examine Jesus answer later.
In the Upper Room, before his betrayal by Judas, he prays. And he promises to pray for Peter to be restored after he denies him.
In the Garden of Gethsemane he prays.
And on the cross, three of his last seven words are prayers
After his resurrection, Jesus reveals himself to two disciples on the road to Emmaus. When do they recognize him? When he prays to give thanks for their evening meal.
Now, in his ascension, the writer of the book of Hebrews tells us he “lives to make intercession for us” as our high priest.
Soon we begin to learn that Jesus’ ministry was not merely strongly supported by his prayers, but his ministry was primarily his prayers.
Every aspect of the life and ministry of Jesus is deeply rooted in prayer–more than most realize. It isn’t just a peripheral thing, it’s the life-breath of how he serves the Father as the God-Man, and how he brings the kingdom to earth as the King of kings.
God means for this model of Jesus, as the Pioneer of our Faith, both to humble us and embolden us. It’s humbling, but it’s liberating to recognize that even in the life of Jesus at every single step he took, every significant movement forward of the kingdom of God is in and through prayer.
I leave you with this question I hope you’ll never forget: “If Jesus, as the Son of God, believed that prayer was this necessary for the Father’s kingdom purposes to be fulfilled in and through his life and ministry, how much more is that true of you?”
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