When we read about the ministry of Jesus, one thing that is clearly evident is how he taught so much about principles of the Kingdom of God and effective Kingdom living through having the right attitude and heart condition before God. He would teach with direct speech, use parables or illustrations.
A key point worth noting in relation to Jesus’ ministry is the fact that God cares very much about the life of a believer in Jesus beyond their salvation and is determined to ensure that we fight the good fight of faith so as to be winners in His camp or that we overcome every obstacle through the finished work at Calvary by our precious Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Jesus knew that the best way to reconcile mankind to God, even beyond salvation to a place of consistent intimacy was not only to teach about the principles and requirements of the kingdom of God but to engage with them in the area of prayer. Prayer is communication with God by true believers in Christ who have the Holy Spirit dwelling within. The Holy Spirit is first and foremost the power of God. Without a life of communication with God in a fervent, consistent and frequent manner, the power to sustain victorious Christian living is impossible. We can have all the teaching of the Word possible but if we do not have a relationship with the source from whom we have the Word, then we are unable to grasp the meaning of the Word. A relationship with God in the power of the Holy Spirit is cultivated through prayer and enables the Holy Spirit to teach us and consistently remind us of the teachings of Jesus.
“26I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. 27But you have received the Holy Spirit,and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spiriti teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. (1 John 2:26-27 NLT)
“… when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.(John 14:26 NLT)
Jesus was therefore determined that believers in him then and thereafter would
1. understand the importance of having time away from all the noise and busyness of the world to be with Abba Father.
What did he do to be our perfect example in relation to this?
In Luke 5:16 we read
“..Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer” (NLT)
The NIV translates “..Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”.
Also we read in Mark 1:35 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
When Jesus isolated himself several times during his ministry to pray, reflecting on how he preached before his crucifixion (John 17), we can conclude that he not only prayed for himself, but he often prayed
-for those who would/that people would hear his teachings and believe in God through believing in who he was and his messianic mission.
-for his twelve disciples and several others who believed in him and even went from towns and villages with him such as certain women including Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Suzanna.
2.know how to pray effectively
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous availeth much” (James 5:16 KJV).
Jesus took it upon himself to teach his disciples to pray
-with the right heart or motives (Matt.5:5-8 NLT)
-using the basic format as a template that pleases the Father; (Matt.5:9-13 NLT)
When we pray, we are required to
i. recognise God as our Father who is in Heaven and hallow His name.
-God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven”
-our provision; this means we recognise him as the one we depend on for our daily needs.
-forgiveness but only if we know we have forgiven others their sins against us. This is because if we have not, then God will not forgive us our sins and non forgiveness will serve as an obstacle to our relationship with him and therefore our prayers being answered.
-deliverance from temptation and evil
a.teaming up to pray with and for someone in their time of desperation was also required of us.
b.in a time of crisis, whether personal or in a group, prayer or intercession is important for it strengthens the spiritually weak.
What happened to confirm this? when Jesus retreated to the garden of Gethsemane he could have gone alone as it was the time just before the Roman Soldiers would appear with Judas to arrest him. However he did not, he chose to pray and asked Peter and the sons of Zebedee, namely James and John to watch and pray with him.
“36 Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. 44 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again.45 Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.46 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!” (Matt. 26:36-46NLT).
Jesus wanted his inner circle of disciples Peter, James and John with him at this time which was a period of intense spiritual warfare in the heavenly realm. Jesus knew that at that time of crisis with the hordes of hell mobilised greatly, it would be easy for them to give in to temptation such as denying they knew Jesus or reject him for fear of what people would think if they knew the disciples walked with Jesus. Therefore praying before hand would strengthen the flesh so that it would be aligned to their willing spirit man. We know that some disciples fled after Jesus was arrested and Peter denied he knew Jesus.
Jesus knew that Peter would deny him three times and told him so (Luke 22:34), however prior to that Jesus had said to Peter (also called Simon)
“31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. 32 But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”(Luke 22:31-32 NLT)
Just pause and think of how when Jesus was having his one to one with Father in a solitary place he would speak to Father about his beloved disciples and especially pray for those, such as Peter he had foreknowledge would undergo affliction for his sake. That was then, but similarly Brethren, Jesus who is now seated at the right hand of Father is making intercession for you and I, asking God to deliver us from evil and temptation and to bring forth His plans and purposes for our lives.
Did Simon Peter overcome? Yes and we are also overcomers through Christ who loves us (Romans 8:37). If we have not yet seen breakthrough in certain areas of our lives, we must rest assured that it will come to pass for Father is never late but His timing is perfect.
Jesus not only prayed for his disciples but he prayed “also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” (John 14:20-21 NLT).
It was important to Jesus that there would be unity of all believers with one another and with God and himself. This unity would be a testimony that Jesus was sent by God. Likewise we too must pray for the unity of believers under a mission statement founded on the Word of God. Division among other things does not glorify God or make the Kingdom attractive to the unsaved.
Brethren, we are given insight into the mystery and power of intercessory prayer, for Jesus’ prayers even in biblical times (John 17:20) is the reason why you and I are not only saved and living lives in God’s kingdom but we are being sustained daily by the power of God. We are also more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) daily because Jesus is still making intercession for us, this time in his position as the Royal High Priest seated at the right hand of Father (Romans 8:34/Eph. 8:1-6). We give him all the glory and praise!
This ought to give us assurance and hope that being a kingdom of priests seated in heavenly places with Christ, (Rev 1:6/Eph. 2:6) as we pray for the unsaved, they too will be saved. To God be the glory great things He has done!
You are blessed, determine to stay blessed!
©Deborah E.Nyamekye 27/02/2016