Torrey - Christ -4.6- Prayerfulness of Christ

VI. THE PRAYERFULNESS OF JESUS CHRIST. JESUS CHRIST WAS PRAYERFUL Hebrews 5:7 — "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared."

First Proposition: In the days of His flesh Jesus Christ offered up prayers and supplications; He was a man of prayer.

The words "prayer" and "pray" are used at least twenty-five times in connection with Jesus, and there are many instances where His praying is mentioned and the words are not recorded. His praying is mentioned by each of the four evangelists. Christ's life had many marked characteristics, but nothing is more marked than His prayerfulness. The extent to which he was a man of prayer will appear more clearly when we consider the next point.

WHEN CHRIST PRAYED

Luke 6:12 — "And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God."

Second Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed in the night, in some instances continuing all night in prayer.

QUESTION: Why in the night?

ANSWER: That he might be alone and have undisturbed communion with God. Mark 1:35 — "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed."

Third Proposition: Jesus Christ rose early in the morning to pray.

This was partly so that he might have solitude for communion with God and partly as a preparation for the day's work. Luke 3:21-22 — "Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened.

And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son: in thee I am well pleased." Mark 1:35,38 — "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And he said unto them, let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth."

Luke 6;12-13 — "And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles." Luke 9:18, 21-22 — "And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him; and he asked them saying, Whom say the people that I am? And he straightly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain and be raised the third day."

Fourth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed before His baptism with the Holy Spirit and entrance upon public ministry, before entering upon an evangelistic tour, before choosing the twelve, before announcing to the twelve His approaching death.

Jesus prayed before important steps in His life. He prepared for the important events of life through special seasons of prayer. Matthew 14:23 — "And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone." John 6:15 — "When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone."

Fifth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed after the great achievements and important crises of His life.

QUESTION: Why?

ANSWER: (a) To recruit His strength. Christ's miracles cost Him something, an expenditure and loss of power (Compare to Mark 5:30); (b) To guard against temptation to pride, or satisfaction, or contentment, with the work already achieved. Jesus Christ was truly human, subject to the same temptations we are, and He met them with the same weapons we must — the Word of God and prayer. It is more common for most of us to pray before the great events of life than after them, but the latter is as important as the former. If we would pray after the great achievements of life we might go on to greater. As it is we are often either puffed up or exhausted by them, and we proceed no further. Matthew 14:19 — "And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude." Luke 24:30 — "And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them."

Sixth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed before He ate.

He prayed in connection with the simplest, commonest event of everyday life. So characteristic was Christ's manner of praying in connection with His meals that He was known by this act to the disciples who had failed to discover who He was up to that point ( Luke 24:30-31). It is in connection with little things that many of us most forget to pray. Every step of Christ's life was accompanied with prayer. Luke 5:15-16 — — "But so much the more went there fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed."

Seventh Proposition: Jesus Christ, when life was unusually busy, withdrew into a solitary place to pray.

Some are so busy that they can find no time to pray. Apparently, the busier Christ's life was, the more he prayed. Sometimes He had no time to eat ( Mark 3:20). Sometimes He had no time for rest and sleep ( Mark 6:31,33,46), but He always took time to pray, and the more the work crowded the more He prayed. Martin Luther, Adam Clarke and many other men of God have learned this secret from Christ. Yet others have lost their power because they did not learn this secret, allowing increasing work to crowd out prayer. Mark 6:31, 33-35, 46 — "And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed .... And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray."

Eighth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed when weary.

The night vigil in Mark 6:46 was after a day when he had been so busy he could not eat and had taken the disciples aside to rest awhile. But the needed and desired rest was immediately interrupted by the multitude who outran Him, and the entire day was spent in teaching and healing the sick and feeding the multitude. That weary day was followed, not by sleep, but by a night of prayer. Prayer is a better way to recuperate exhausted energies than by sleep. Ofttimes when we are so tired we cannot sleep, and waste time tossing to and fro upon our beds, if we would arise and pour out our hearts to God we would get far more rest and go back to bed to sleep. Matthew 26:36 — "Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder." Luke 22:39-41 — "And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down and prayed."

Ninth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed before great temptations.

He prepared for temptation by drawing near to God in prayer, so He always came off victorious. The disciples, despite His warning, slept while He prayed. Thus He stood and they fell. The calm majesty of His bearing amid the awful onslaughts of Pilate's judgment hall and of Calvary was the outcome of the struggle, agony, and victory of Gethsemane. Luke 23:34,46 — "Then said Jesus, Father forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."

Tenth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed in the last moments of His life.

His last utterance was a prayer. His life had been a life of prayer, and with prayer it came to a fitting close.

WHERE JESUS CHRIST PRAYED

Matthew 14:23 — "And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone." Mark 6:46 — -"And when he had sent them away, he departed into the mountain to pray." Luke 6:12 — "And it came to pass in those days, that he went into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." John 6:15 — "When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone."

Eleventh Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed on a mountain.

Each of the four evangelists makes mention of Jesus going to the mountain to pray, and it is said in Luke 22:39, "as his custom was." Stalker says: "When he arrived in a town, His first thought was which was the shortest way to the mountain, just as ordinary travelers inquire where are the most noted sights and which is the best hotel." ("Imago Christi," p. 131.) He went to the mountain because of its solitude and because it brought Him near to God. Mark 1:35 — "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed."

Twelfth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed in solitary places.

Though today finding a solitary place in our crowded streets in order to pray may be a challenge, we should follow Christ's example and get away from the sight and sound of men, to be alone with God. If you have never known what it is to kneel down in the woods where no human voice could be heard, or beneath a tree in the silent starlight or moonlight, and look up with open eyes toward the face of God and talk to Him, you have missed a blessing that cannot be described, but that every child of God should know.

WITH WHOM CHRIST PRAYED

Matthew 14:23 — "And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come he was there alone."

Thirteenth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed alone. Luke 9:28 — "And it came to pass an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray."

Fourteenth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed with a chosen few. Luke 9:18 — "And it came too pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him; and he asked them saying, Whom say the people that I am?"

Fifteenth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed with the whole apostolic company. They were his family and this was family prayer. Matthew 14:19 — "And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude."

Sixteenth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed in the midst of great multitudes.

Those who would contend from Matthew 6:6 ("But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly") that we must confine our prayers to our closets, can find no support in Christ's example. He Himself prayed in public.

ON WHOSE BEHALF JESUS CHRIST PRAYED

John 12:28 — "Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it and will glorify it again."

Seventeenth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed on God's behalf, for God's glory.

Christ had a supreme regard for God's interest in His prayers. In the prayer He taught His disciples, the first petition was that God's name might be hallowed ( Matthew 6:9). John 17:1 — "These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come: glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee." Hebrews 5:7 — "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared."

Eighteenth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed on His own behalf.

It was not in any sense a selfish prayer, though it was for self. He prayed for the Father to glorify Him in order that He in turn might glorify the Father. He prayed for deliverance from premature death that He might finish the work the Father had given Him to do. There is nothing more unselfish than a true prayer for oneself. John 14:16-17 — "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." John 17:9,20 — "1 pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word."

Nineteenth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed on behalf of all His own.

Christ's own, those given to Him by the Father, are the objects of His prayer in a sense no others are. It is for them He now intercedes as high priest and advocate. Hebrews 7:25 — "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Romans 8:34 "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." 1 John 2:1 — "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Luke 22:31-32 — "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, Strengthen thy brethren."

Twentieth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed for Peter, for an individual disciple.

Christ does not merely pray for believers in a mass, he prays for individual believers. 1 John 2:1 — "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." Luke 23:34 — "Then said Jesus, Father forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment and cast lots."

Twenty-first Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed for His enemies.

HOW JESUS CHRIST PRAYED

John 17:1 — "These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come: glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee."

Twenty-second Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed with God's glory first in view. Compare James 4:3, RV; Matthew 6:9.

Matt 26:42 — "He went away again the second time and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away form me, except I drink it, thy will be done."

Twenty-third Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed in submission to the Father's will.

This did not introduce any element of uncertainty into his prayers when the will of God was clearly revealed and known. Compare to John 11:41-42 — "Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I know that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me." Luke 22:41 — "And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down and prayed."

Twenty-fourth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed on His knees. Matthew 26:39 — "And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt."

Twenty-fifth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed on His face before God.

If the sinless Son of God got on his knees and on his face before the Father, what shall we do? Matthew 14:19 — "And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. John 17:1 — "These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee."

Twenty-sixth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed with open upturned eyes.

We do well often to close our eyes that we may shut the world out, but there are times when it is better to look right up with open eyes into the face of God as Jesus did. Luke 22:44 — "And being in agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."

Twenty-seventh Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed earnestly.

The literal force of the word translated "earnestly" is "stretched-out-ly."

The thought is of the soul stretched out in intensity of desire. Hebrews 5:7 — "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared."

Twenty-eighth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed "with strong crying and tears." The word translated "crying" is a strong word, meaning "outcry" or "clamor." The force of it is increased by the qualifying adjective "strong."

He prayed "with mighty outcry." Some speak of it as an attainment of superior faith to always be calm in prayer, and "just take" in childlike confidence what they ask. They have either gotten beyond their Master, or else do not know what Holy Ghost earnestness means. It is to be suspected that sometimes their calm comes not from the Holy Ghost, but from indifference. The Holy Ghost makes intercession "with groanings which cannot be uttered" ( Romans 8:26). Be careful not to confuse the laziness of indifference with the "rest of faith." Any rest of faith that does not leave room for mighty conflicts in prayer and deed is not Christlike. "Groaning" and "tears" and "outcry" that are simulated, or the product of working oneself up, are worse yet. Luke 6:12 — "And it came to pass in those days, that he went into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God."

Twenty-ninth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed with a large outlay of time — "all night." The time element in prayer is of vast importance. By the use of modern machinery, one can do more in a minute than he could once do in hours.

No machinery has ever been invented by which the work of prayer can be expedited. Matthew 26:44 "And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words."

Thirtieth Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed importunately — three times for the same thing.

In the face of what is recorded of Christ it will not do to say that the failure to receive what you ask the first time you pray necessarily indicates a weakness of faith. John 11:41-42 — "Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I know that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

Thirty-first Proposition: Jesus Christ prayed (a) with thanksgiving (compare to Philippians 4:6; in this case the thanksgiving was for an answer yet to be and that only faith could see); (b) believingly. He believed He had received the petition He asked of the Father though there was as yet no visible proof of it.

Compare to 1 John 5:14-15 — "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him." And compare to Mark 11:24, RV — "All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them."

THE EFFECT OF CHRIST'S PRAYERS John 11:41-42 — "Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I know that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me."

Thirty-second Proposition: The Father always heard Christ's prayers; therefore, Christ always received what He asked.

Jesus Christ accomplished things by prayer which even He could accomplish in no other way. Thus, He saved Peter when warnings and teachings failed, and overcame temptation, wrought miracles, escaped death, and glorified God, finishing the work the Father gave Him to do.