When Jesus addresses his prayers to his “Father,” he speaks not only as the eternal Son of God but also as our human brother—and so invites us to pray the same way.
Samuel C. Degner
Wouldn’t you love to put your ear on heaven’s door and eavesdrop on a conversation between God the Son and God the Father?
The Holy Spirit allows us do just that in the Scriptures. Read three chapters in the gospels and you’re likely to find Jesus praying—the Son talking to the Father. He prayed early in the morning and late at night. He prayed in front of others and all alone. He prayed at milestone moments and on ordinary occasions.
He prayed so often that we could easily let his prayers fade into the background of the gospel narratives. That would be a shame though. We can learn so much when we listen to our Savior pray. His words open up a window for us to peer into his heart, a heart that always beats in perfect synchronization with that of his Father and that beats with the same deep love for us.
JESUS PRAYED TO HIS FATHER
It is that name, “Father,” that Jesus speaks nearly every time he uses a title to address his prayers. (We’ll study the lone exception in a few months.) Yet if the first two persons of the Trinity simply wanted to have a dialogue, they could have done so in the timeless reaches of the heavenly realms. When Jesus prays, he prays from an actual geographical point on this planet in a fixed moment in time. The sounds emanate from vibrating vocal chords and pass over lips that are pink with human blood. When Jesus prays, he prays as our flesh-and-blood brother.
Thus to hear Jesus pray is more than to catch the Father and Son in conversation. It is to witness our salvation being won.
This is evident in Jesus’ first prayer recorded in Scripture. Watch as Jesus of Nazareth, 30 years of age, steps out of the Jordan River. As the water of John’s baptism runs off of him, he looks to heaven and prays (Luke 3:21,22). His words are not recorded for us but his Father’s reply is: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
For three decades, everything Jesus had done, said, and thought pleased his heavenly Father. Isn’t this why he was here? God’s Son came to live as our brother and give his Father the obedience we owed him. Jesus’ life as our substitute was perfectly in line
with God’s will, and that included his prayer life. As we will see throughout this study, Jesus prayed to God for the right things and in the right ways for all of the times our praying has fallen short.
When Jesus prays to his Father, he prays for us.
WE PRAY TO THAT SAME FATHER
He invites us to do the same. When he taught his disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13), he invited them to pray to the same Father to whom he loved to pray. We can pray to our Father—Jesus’ Father and ours—because God’s Son became our brother and did everything well in our place. Through faith in him, given at our own baptisms, we receive the same pronouncement from God in heaven: “You are my son, my daughter, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” God is pleased with us for the sake of Jesus. Therefore he is pleased to hear our prayers too.
So we are awed to hear Jesus pray to our Father for us . . . and we are thrilled to be able to do the same!
Contributing editor Samuel Degner is pastor at Bethel, Menasha, Wisconsin.
This is the first article in a nine-part series on Jesus and his prayer life.
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Author: Samuel C. Degner
Volume 101, Number 11
Issue: November 2014
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