(Updated 1/5/2009)
Music: How Great Thou Art

Greg Meyer




(or how to pray)

We’ve encountered the subject of praying (Matthew, John, and in the other Gospels which we haven’t read yet) in our Bible studies in the New Testament. Jesus seems to be always going off by himself to pray. Just what is going on here and why does Jesus (God) have to pray in the first place or is he just doing this to show us humans how to pray? The following discussion is based on my beliefs and opinions on this subject and has been taken from Scripture as well as DVDs and other outside readings … and at times just thoughts that have come to me during the night, where I literally jump out of bed and head for my computer to put down these thoughts before they elude me before daybreak (no visions, inspired dreams, miraculous encounters of the third kind, etc. – just thoughts and ideas about the day’s Bible readings).

There’s been a constant thought that runs through my thoughts that keep telling me something on this subject of praying I’ve been doing is wrong – what I’ve been doing in my past ain’t correct; that is, putting together a shopping list of wants and sticking Jesus’ name at the end.

Briefly, praying is communicating with God. So when Jesus went off to pray, he was communicating with the Father. And in all communications, there is an exchange between the communicators. I’ve read a very good definition of communication described as such:

Communication is a two-way cycle between two terminals, a Cause and an Effect,
separated by distance, with the intention of bringing into duplication with
understanding at the Effect point that was emanated from the Cause point.

Here, however, we are communicating with God, who is omniscient (all knowing). He knows everything we are going to say before we say it! God knows all of what we are going to pray about before we even start praying; so what is left that we can communicate to him that he doesn’t already know? So what I’m leading up to is that in our case of communicating with God, it is a one-way communication cycle. This is also true in Jesus’ case! Jesus communicated (prayed) to God the Father, not to tell him what he intended or wanted to do, but to listen to God the Father in what he wanted him to do. As Jesus repeatedly expressed in the Gospel of John, he did nothing on his own authority – that is, he did just what the Father directed him to do. So Jesus opened the communication cycle and then set back to listen (became the Effect) to what the Father (Cause) wanted him to do next. Then Jesus did what the Father directed him to do!

Praying is a one-way communication with God the Father.
(and we better know who’s doing the communicating - it ain't us!)

If God the Father says: go here and you’ll see a blind man; put mud on the blind-man's eyes and tell him to wash it off and he will see (and Jesus did this), the blind man would see! It was in God the Father’s will! And everything in God the Father’s Will will happen! Guaranteed! Don’t initiate on our own, (selfish as expressed in Bible study the other night), it’ll never happen; only those things in God’s Will will happen! How’s that for a start?

Also, when something happens – like a miracle healing or whatever, give God the Father the glory (credit) where it belongs. Only God the Father makes healing possible. Moses got onto God’s bad list when he did not give credit (glorify) to God for the water coming out the rock upon striking it. These are the rules and should be followed, if you like it or not!

Then the question comes up – did Jesus do anything by random chance (randomly) or on his own authority – the answer is emphatically NO. So what this tells us about initiating on our own authority? God the Father guided Jesus on everything he did, so shouldn’t God guide us, to say the least. There are three DVDs that I highly recommend that address this idea: [1] The Finger of God by Darren Wilson (wherein God’s word came first and miracles follow; [2] How to Pray by Charles Price (covers Matthew 6:5-8 and gives a modern approach to this Gospel and prayer); and [3] Vision of His Glory by Anne Graham Lotz (discusses prayer in the book of Revelation as well as John’s credibility). These DVD’s maybe something we could view after Bible study.

Jesus did a lot of praying accompanied by lots of miracles. Was there a time that Jesus couldn’t do something he intended? I’m sure not, but this is my opinion. God the Father always responded in the affirmative. Jesus admonished his disciples for not having enough faith to cure some people. Jesus expected every one of his disciples to do what he did (and even greater) than he did. This gives meaning to the line in the Lord’s Prayer:

Thy Kingdom come; Thy Will be done
… on Earth as in Heaven …

Now the question that is begged – How do we get into communication with God? I believe at first, just start – doesn’t matter how, but just start by communicating to God what we want to do – and that is – find out what he wants from us and give us guidance. Again, this is a one way communication – we are in the listen mode! We are trying to get God’s thoughts (not the other way around). I don’t know how to do this, and when do I know if any thoughts that come up are from the Father (via Holy Spirit) and what thoughts come from Satan. This is probably something we have to get in tune with. But when it does happen, we might think we are psychic or some other term that is given to the out of the normal. Leave out ourselves and stay open for God’s communication, which could happen at anytime – not just when communicating – keep the communication lines open 24/7.

I think we are just a conduit to God, like Jacob’s dream of a ladder to heaven. Jesus said he was the ladder; so, maybe we should consider us being the ladder when communicating to the Father. We listen, receive and then act. We serve as Jesus said as he washed the feet of his disciples – he came to serve, serve who – the Father! We’re here to serve the Father also. I find that things come up that I respond to as “can’t”; maybe the answer is really “won’t”. That is, I know things to do but I refuse to do them. So the bottom line to this paragraph is pray – listen for guidance – consider ourselves as a conduit for service to God the Father. That’s why it’s essential to get away (in quiet, like Jesus did and as expressed in Matthew 6) so we don’t get distracted by outside influences and noises. We can clearly hear better the Father’s instructions. In bed at night, when all is quiet as a church mouse, seems to me to be an ideal time.

Then there’s the flip side – we know that something is in God’s Will, but we don’t know why or the purpose but know that it should be done. We can’t do everything; what then? I guess, pray to God the Father for further guidance. And what about praying in Jesus’ name? ………

One area of service to God the Father – is getting people familiar to his Son’s words (which are really the Father’s words) which is the justification to going through Jesus as an intermediary. As Jesus said:

And I will do whatever you ask for in my name,
so that the Father’s glory will be shown through the Son.

If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.

[John 14:13-14]

Biblical scholars refer to these two passages coupled with the next verse for being the most misunderstood in the Bible; in fact, these verses are credited to leading to most of the backsliding in Christianity. In my feeble attempt to paraphrasing Mr. McGee and others, I throw my hat into the ring of confusion.

What does it mean to ask (or pray) in the name of Jesus Christ?

To pray to God the Father in his Son’s name (Jesus) means that we are to stand in Jesus’ place, that is, to be fully identified with him. This means that you and I are pleading the merits of his blessed Son when we stand before God. We have no standing on our own before God. God the Father hears our prayers only when they are in the name of his beloved Son, Jesus Christ – not just a shopping list of our needs and requests with Jesus’ name tagged on at the ending! A prayer that will enable God to be glorified (recognized and credited) through the Son is a prayer that God the Father will answer. So, when we pray in the name of Jesus and for the glory of God, we are not praying for something selfishly for ourselves. We are praying as a proxy for him (Jesus); we are praying that the Father may be glorified through his Son. This promise is given to those who love him, and the evidence of their love for him is in the keeping of his commandments. Love will be demonstrated by obedience and …

obedience to him is evidence of our love for him
… and this promise is given to those who love him ...

A good reference to prayer is a DVD set by Charles Price
“Effective Praying” and the “Disciples Prayer”
[Matthew 6: 5-8; 9-13]

An example (McGee’s book and a similar example on Charles Price’s DVD):

A woman’s father was desperately ill and while the doctor was up in her father’s room, she had knelt in the living room and prayed in Jesus’ name for his recovery. When the doctor came down from her father’s room, he told her that her father was dead. She thought to herself:

“Don’t tell me that God kept his promise.”

The Pastor asked her what would happen if she found a check made out to someone else (Jesus) and tried to cash it by signing that name (Jesus’). She said “I would be a forger.” So he referred her to the next verse, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” There are conditions (if’s)!

If you love me, you will obey my commandments.

I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper,
who will stay with you forever.

Then he asked her “Have you been doing that?” Then he explained that what she was trying to do was the same thing as trying to cash a check made out to somebody else. We all need to recognize that obedience to Him is the evidence of our love for Him and this promise is given to those who love Him.

One area that also needs to be addressed is the role of the Holy Spirit. When we accepted Jesus as the Son of God and as our Messiah, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to indwell in us. This is fortunate for us, in that we can only understand what our heavenly Father wants as translated through the Holy Spirit in human terms.

Lastly, I believe that God can’t change his Will

– it’s already happened in the future! -