Summary: A devotion for church leaders
(A brief devotion on prayer)
“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.”
The primary theme that this author seems to have chosen and adhered to throughout his letter is, “Consider Jesus”. Better than the prophets, better than Moses, better than the angels, better than the feast days and the sacrifices; “Consider Jesus”, Author and perfecter of faith, Captain of our salvation, our Great High Priest, “Consider Jesus”, the same yesterday and today, yes and forever. “Consider Him”.
So let’s briefly glean just a couple of nuggets from this one verse before we go to prayer this morning, focusing on the specific example set for us in the things said about Jesus here, and consider Him; “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.” (Piety being in the Greek, “eusebeo”, meaning a cautious, devout reverence)
Revealed to us here are two very significant things about Jesus that we can learn from and apply to ourselves: His prayers were pertinent and urgent and His character was humble and submissive (reverent).
The verse says that in the days of His flesh he offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears.
Now I realize that it is generally accepted that these words refer to His struggle in Gethsemane; primarily due to the reference to the “One able to save Him from (or out of) death”
But I am intrigued by the writer’s choice of words in saying, “In the days of His flesh”. He did not say “on the night of His arrest”, or “while His disciples slept”, or any other specific phrasing that would single out this one instance of prayer.
In addition there is the glaring contradiction in thought here, that the gospels tell us that Jesus went back several times during the course of the evening to awaken His disciples from slumber, yet the writer says He “offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears”.
Now I only bring your attention to these details to say this. If, in the days of His flesh, or the entirety of His sojourning here, Jesus approached prayer with the attitude that seems to be expressed here; then it would indeed behoove us to take note and follow our teacher.
These specific words about prayer used in this verse are used nowhere else. They refer to an earnest appeal in great need, and an urgent entreaty for aid; or put simply, “HELP!”
In all the examples of the prayers of Jesus that are given to us, we never see Him flippant, or glib, or uncertain, or indecisive, or wavering in faith. Prayer was a serious business to Jesus. Having temporarily set aside the independent exercise of His own divine attributes and become deliberately dependant on the Father, Jesus placed Himself in the same position of need in which we find ourselves (apart from a sin nature). He did this for our example, and therefore not only should we follow His example in prayer, we should expect the same results.
Let’s compare some of our praying with what we know of Jesus. It calls for some speculation, but I think you’ll understand what I am getting at.
When Jesus spent all night in prayer before choosing His twelve apostles, can you imagine that it went anything like this:
“Ok Father, then we’ve settled on Peter and Matthew and John and Andrew and...
well Father before I go further I want to talk to you about this Judas Iscariot. I’m getting some bad vibes from him, Father, and besides, we already have one Judas in the group...that could cause some confusion. Anyway Father, if you want me to choose Iscariot as one of the twelve, give me a sign.”
What about at the tomb of Lazarus?
“Father, I felt really led to delay coming here...so I did...and I don’t know what you intend to do but I’m just putting it all in your hands Father. I’ve read the scriptures and I know you have the ability to heal and even to raise the dead. If that’s what you want to do today Father then I pray that you will raise Lazarus, and I will give you all the praise and the glory...”
Or in the Upper Room with his disciples?
“Father, I have taught them and led them, and have not lost any of them except the son of perdition. Now I’m asking that you do some kind of miracle in the hearts of the rest, Father, because they don’t seem to have a clue. I’ve poured myself out as a drink offering on them for over three years Father, and I know you can see that they are simply devoid of any spirituality; fighting and backbiting and gossiping as we walk down the road daily,...and well Father, the time has come for Me to be delivered into the hands of evil men, and quite frankly, I don’t expect to be able to find one of these guys hanging around three days from now.