Christ’s life was a prayer. He maintained a continuous and steadfast acknowledgment of God’s presence in his life, his first priority that God’s will, not his, be done. He prayed for the courage and strength he had to have to accomplish the herculean task that lay before him. From his prayers we gain insight into the mind of Christ, the man we’re admonished to emulate, so the subject of prayer ought to be of vital interest to us. We can feel secure in modeling our prayers after his—after all, what better tutor than the son of God Himself.
Prayer was probably the only source of comfort to that solitary figure. Prayer was crucial. Christ knew that only God could fully appreciate his life purpose through the days, weeks and years—never giving in to sin, knowing what lay ahead for him. As yet a boy he acknowledged his need to be about his Father’s business. After all, it was God who sent him into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save it. To this end was I born, he answered Pilate when asked if he were really the King of the Jews. (John 18. 37) His ministry began with prayer at his baptism, and again at his crucifixion-- Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23. 34). Christ’s prayer on the cross during his agony were the exact words written by King David 1,000 years before the event.(Ps 22. 1): My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? A startling prophetic glimpse into the fate of the Lord Jesus Christ. His final words on the cross, Into Thy hands I commend my spirit, (Ps 31. 5) , evinced his supreme confidence in His Father as he lay dying.
The outstanding characteristic of Christ’s prayers is simplicity—natural, never repetitive or flowery. To call God anything but “the Father” is gilding the lily, so It would be wise to flee ostentation. In todays vernacular he’d say, don’t be a show off when you pray. Enter into your closet and pray, so God, who sees you in secret, shall reward you openly. (Mat 6. 6). Life for Jesus was not as complicated as we sometimes make it to be. Never sermonizing, his approach was totally pragmatic. Think of the parables—so simple, practical, yet profound. He denounces the Scribes and Pharisees, calling them hypocrites in their repetitive, long prayers, their lives not reflecting the spirit of truth. (Mat 23. 3 – 33). Prayer is best defined as a communication between a mortal who speaks to God and the One who already knows what he is going to say. The great gulf between man and God is greatly diminished by prayer. Christ’s guide is brief.
Our Father which art in heaven
A perfect appellation. Connotes simply: power, mercy, love, faith
Not earthly or temporal, but everlasting
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven
Not my will, but thine be done. He came to do his Father’s will;
Our prayers are not answered when we ask amiss—(James 4. 3)
Take care in our petitions; we are imperfect.
To perfect the earth, God’s hand is needed.
Give us this day our daily bread
The sole request for material blessing. To sustain life is necessary before
we can do the Father’s will.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
Only to the extent we can forgive and forget those who hurt us
are we entitled to be forgiven; this gives us pause—think of James 2. 13:
God will have judgment without mercy on him that has shown no mercy;
And mercy rejoices against judgment. Will Christ help us here?
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation; the spirit is willing,
but the flesh is weak. (Mat 26. 41); Jesus could say this. How much more
reason have we to say it, but alas. often unwilling.
For thine is the kingdom and the power
And the glory forever, amen.
It’s fitting this prayer be addressed to God; it is He alone that can answer it.
Without the medium of prayer, without knowing he could appeal to God, Jesus could not have been the perfect man he was. A statement by James, the Lord’s brother, assures us of the efficacy of prayer when he wrote: The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (Jas 5. 6). Christ became the crowning fulfillment of those words.