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A systematic reading of the Scriptures, portioned to complement your daily time spent with God.
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A weekly pastoral letter to minister to young adults, inspired by the grace of God.
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A series from the Book of Proverbs that teaches us how to bring up children and build good Christian homes.
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Text: John 12 : 23-36
Prayer was captured as a very integral part of the life and ministry of Jesus. The Synoptic Gospel writers portrayed Jesus in the following ways:-
1. As One who was given to prayer (Matthew 4)
2. As One who enjoined the practice of prayer (Luke 18)
3. As One who taught the doctrine of prayer (Matthew 6)
John beautifully captured an incident which helps us to understand why Jesus so encouraged the practice of prayer. Prayer was as natural as breathing to Jesus. We may describe the natural way in which Jesus spoke to His Father as “spontaneous prayer”.
THE PRACTICE OF SPONTANEOUS PRAYER
Spontaneous prayer is to be differentiated from special seasons of prayer. As the name suggests, this kind of prayer is uttered on the spur of the moment. Another characteristic of spontaneous prayer is “brevity”.
We have a classic example of spontaneous prayer in this text. The context was Jesus teaching His Disciples on the subject of how to face death bravely and meaningfully. There and then, Jesus breathed a word of spontaneous prayer.
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say?
‘Father, save Me from this hour’?
But for this purpose I came to this hour.
Father, glorify Your Name.
Then a voice came from heaven, saying,
‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.'”
Prayer was so real and precious to Jesus because each time He communed with His Father in prayer, there would always be a response!
TURNING EVERY THOUGHT INTO PRAYER
Many thoughts flit through our minds. Thoughts in themselves are not sinful, unless they are entertained and accepted.
As Jesus spoke to His Disciples about prayer, suddenly a troubling thought came to His mind. The thought of death sought to trouble Him. A very natural “self-defence” kind of thought flitted through His mind. Should He not ask His Father to save Him from His hour of death?
Instantly, Jesus dealt with that thought. He turned that thought into spontaneous prayer. He set aside that thought. It was a very human thought. However, He was not just Son of Man in the ordinary sense of the word. He was the Son of Man who had come to die on behalf of sinful mankind. His very purpose on earth was associated with “this hour”.
A quick “second prayer” went up to His Father. He cried out to His Father to glorify His Name instead. That was how it was with Jesus. Prayer was His first response. It was also His second response. Prayer was so real to Him, that He would capture every thought and made sure that each thought would glorify His Father.
We are reminded of how the Apostle Paul was caught up with this practice and taught it in his second epistle to the Corinthians.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal
but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,
casting down arguments and every high thing
that exalts itself against the knowledge of God,
bringing every thought into captivity to the
obedience of Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:4-5
Paul knew about the terrifying power of thoughts. They may seem to be harmless things, for they appear to be just “thoughts”. However, to be truly mature and wise, thoughts were recognized as things with great potentials. They had potential power to raise up arguments that would ultimately war against the soul. They could be thoughts that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. The challenge was to bring every single thought into captivity. If only every thought could be brought into captivity and made subject to the Lord.
This seemed to be exactly what Jesus was doing when a thought passed His mind and troubled Him. Immediately, He brought that thought into captivity by prayer. He subjected that thought into prayer. His great defence was “The glory of God”. He wanted every thought to glorify His Father. Every word, every deed must be made to glorify His Father! Thus He breathed a spontaneous prayer to His Father with wondrous results!
THE RESPONSE OF GOD TO PRAYER
How important it is for us to believe that God truly hears and answers prayer! Jesus had prayed right! Thus there was that swift response to His spontaneous prayer! Did Jesus pray that He might glorify His Father? His Father wanted Him to know that this prayer was heard. His prayer would be specially honoured, for it was a totally unselfish prayer!
God had glorified His Own Name through the life and ministry of Jesus. He would glorify it again when He accepted His Hour of Death as from God. He had just taught His Disciples not to be afraid of death. It was only right that He now practised exactly what He had taught! He would glorify His Name through His Son.
AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO CULTIVATE OUR PRAYER LIFE
Jesus sought at every opportunity to encourage His Disciples to pray. Praying is not as natural to us as it was to Jesus. Let us be challenged to cultivate our prayer life by every means. Let us take time to understand what Jesus taught about prayer. Let us be encouraged by the way He practised prayer. Let us teach our hearts to cry out to God spontaneously in prayer. Let us be assured that no prayer uttered would be in vain. God may not answer in exactly the same way as He did when Jesus prayed. However, let us be assured that He does hear and answer all our prayers.