Summary: Looking at Jesus’ prayer life - Stimulation of Solitude, Source of Strength, Seeker of Sanctification
SOS from Jesus’ Prayer Life
A bus driver and a minister were standing in line to get into heaven. The bus driver approached the gate and St. Peter said, "Welcome, I understand you were a bus driver. Since I’m in charge of housing, I believe I have found the perfect place for you. See that mansion over the hilltop? It’s yours.
The minister heard all this and began to stand a little taller. He said to himself, "If a bus driver got a place like that, just think what I’ll get."
The minister approached the gate and St. Peter said, "Welcome, I understand you were a minister. See that shack in the valley?" St. Peter had hardly gotten the words out of his mouth when the shocked minister said, "I was a minister, I preached the gospel, I helped teach people about God. Why does that bus driver get a mansion, and I get a shack?"
Sadly St. Peter responded, "Well, it seems when you preached, people slept. When the bus driver drove, people prayed."
We all know that prayer is important, I mean – it is the way that we communicate with God – the maker of the universe, the creator, the sustainer, our Father and Saviour. But it is one thing to know it and quite another thing to practice it. But don’t worry, I don’t want to turn this into a big guilt trip about how long you did or didn’t pray or even what you should or shouldn’t say. You see, too often, we build up a picture of what prayer is and we whip ourselves for not lining up with this caricature.
Well I thought that it would be interesting over the next months as I have opportunity to begin to look at prayer from the experience of a master. And who better to learn from than from Jesus himself. Over the next couple of months therefore I want to look at specifically some of the prayers that Jesus uttered. To learn how he prayed and what he prayed for. I believe by looking at some of these things, we might be able to make prayer live in our lives, just as Jesus did.
Today, however, I want to set the scene as it were. I want to spend some time taking some broad brush strokes – looking at Jesus’ life of prayer to see how he did it and what it meant to him. Now at the outset, I am not saying that this is the only way to pray. I don’t believe for a minute that we need to try to imitate Christ’s actions down to the minutest detail. Rather, what I think will be useful for us is the principles we can glean from looking at how Jesus prayed.
So let’s get into it shall we, but lets first practice what we preach and pray.
This morning I want to touch on 3 aspects of the practice of prayer that we can learn from Jesus and they all are all TLA’s – that stands for Three Letter Acronyms for the uninitiated. And to make them easy to remember, they are all acronyms SOS. Because I think that they may just help save us from some of the struggles we face in our own prayer lives.
The first aspect of Jesus’ prayer life I want to draw your attention to - our first SOS is the …
1) Stimulation Of Solitude
I’m probably not telling you anything new to tell you that Jesus sought solitude when he wanted to be alone with his Father in heaven. Now that is not to say that he didn’t recognise the value of corporate prayer. But he know that this was not what real prayer was about.
Did you know that it is a scientifically proven fact that in any prayer group at any given moment, 95% of the people will not be paying attention to your prayer. 55% will be daydreaming, 20% will be thinkinga about what they’re going to say, 14% will be wishing you wouldn’t blab so long, 5% will have their eyes open and 1% will be wondering why you have your shirt on inside out.
Jesus knew what corporate prayer was all about .. from a young boy, he would have been exposed to prayer and also participated in prayers in the home and the synagogue. He led the disciples in prayer at meal times and times of festivals and we’re told again and again that Jesus was found in the synagogues teaching. We can assume along with this came praying since teaching, praying and singing of psalms were all important activities in synagogue worship.
However, when we study Jesus’ lilfe, we find that corporate prayer was not enough to sustain Jesus. The most important prayer times for him were those times where he was alone. In Matt 14 we read about Jesus seeking to retire to a solitary place only to be followed by a huge crowd. This was the setting of the feeding of the 5000. After this however, he sent everyone away and we read (vs 22)