Whether He was afar off, or in their midst, we do not know, but what we know as fact is that after Jesus ceased praying, one of His disciples came to Him and said, 'Lord teach us to pray.'
I imagine it must have done Christ's heart good to realize that His disciples had grown in their maturity enough to realize the the importance of prayer. The disciple did not ask Him to teach them how to take up an offering, how to draw a crowd, or even how to perform miracles. They wanted to be taught how to pray, because they realized, prayer opens the storehouse of all of God's gifts and blessings.
Effective, fervent prayer, practiced by a righteous man avails much. They realized that if they learned to pray effectively, they possessed the key with which they could access healing, prophecy, visions, tongues, and all the other gifts.
With what hope remains in our burdened hearts, let us return our focus toward the One who changed the world by His works and words, while He walked among us. What we know, by way of the Word, is that Jesus spent much time in prayer. The hours he spent alone, in fellowship with the Father, are incalculable, and beyond what any of us might imagine. Yes, Jesus prayed, that Jesus, the Son of God, the selfsame one that went about performing miracles, from lame men walking to the dead rising. If Jesus prayed, ought we not also pray? Or is our self image so inflated that we believe ourselves to be above the need for prayer?
Even though He spent countless hours in prayer, there are surprisingly few of his prayers redacted by His disciples within the pages of Scripture. Often times, being sought by His followers, Jesus was found alone, away from the crowds, in less traveled places, praying by Himself.
Jesus did not enter the house of Matthew the tax collector, or Simon the leper, and dripping of the pomposity so often attributed to modern day pastors say, 'now, before another word is uttered, let us pray!' He did not parade his religiosity in front of others, attempting to prove He was a man of prayer, even though they all knew He was a man of prayer.
It is documented within the four gospels that Christ spent much time in prayer. This cannot be disputed, but it was mostly alone, with the Father, not before the crowds trying to impress them with His spirituality. It is only on rare occasions, that we find Him praying in public, and even then His prayers were short and to the point, unlike the endless and winding prayers of the pharisees.
Jesus does speak of public prayer, of coming together in fellowship, but He stresses the attitude, and the motives of those who pray, rather than the public prayer itself. It is the attitude and the intent with which we pray, that either gives weight and value to our prayers, or causes them to go unheard and unrewarded.
When transparency, honesty and humility are combined with the knowledge and respect of God's will, they open up the very heavens, and cause God to hear our supplications.
Although it is not absolutely necessary for other men to hear our prayers, they will inevitably see and be influenced by lives which are fueled and inspired by sincere and intense prayer.
You will not see those who spend any real time on their faces before God in prayer, walking about with their heads held high, hoping to draw the attention of the crowd by their loftiness, but all who come in contact with such men, will plainly read the goodness, godliness, and dignity in their eyes nonetheless.
The power and the efficiency of a prayer does not lie in its beauty, how well crafted and eloquent it is, how well it flows and crescendos, but in how beautiful the life of the one praying is, in the sight of God.
For many Christians today, prayer has become a ritualistic reflex, rather than a natural impulse, or an expression of the liberty which grows and matures naturally in an authentic relationship between God and man. Relationships must be cultivated, and prayer is the means by which we cultivate our relationship with God. When we pray, we ought to be more concerned with the ethic of our prayer, than the aesthetic of our supplication, to be more interested in the content rather than the form.
A man of prayer learns, upon establishing relationship with Christ that he ought to be more captivated by the One in whose presence he has come, and appreciate the privilege he has been offered, than concerned with the wants and needs on his mind, summarily categorized by urgency and relevance.
We have become too interested in how others perceive our prayers, or what impression we are making on them, than how God perceives them and receives them. I do believe there is such a thing as a worthless prayer, and this occurs when men pray simply to impress other men, when sin, such as pride or bitterness, keeps the prayer from ascending beyond the ceiling fan.
For many Christians today, prayer is no longer viewed as an investment in their relationship with God, but as a means of escaping impossible situations. Prayer for many is the last resort, the escape hatch, bending the knee when everything else has failed.
If in times of crisis their prayers receive no answers, in a timely fashion and within the terms they have outlined for God, then they view prayer as a useless exercise.
Tomorrow, we discuss the power of true prayer from a sincere heart, why it is necessary to have a prayer life even when you don't have problems, and the spiritual rewards of a life of prayer.
For now I leave you with the peace of Christ, and am off to make myself some hot tea, since it seems I have caught my wife's cold.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.