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3 Ways to Pray Like Jesus

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The year was 1896 and Charles M. Sheldon decided for his Sunday night church services that he would write a story that continued one chapter per week. The story would be about different people who decided to model their life after Jesus. He was soon preaching to a packed crowd. Eventually the chapters were combined and published with the title “In His Steps.” One of the main themes in the book was people making decisions in their everyday lives by answering the question “What would Jesus Do?”

The popularity of this book and the eventual fad of the bracelets, hats, t-shirts and tattoos tells us something about the Christian faith. We don’t just want to BELIEVE in Jesus. We want to LIVE like Jesus. In fact this is what 1 John 2:6 tells us the Christian life is all about, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did”

This is particularly true when it comes to prayer. 

Jesus “would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16).

When was the last time you and I did that? When was the last time we powered down all of our devices, got alone and settled into a conversation with God?

Jesus prioritized communication and communion in his relationship with his heavenly Father. And so must we.

But what did Jesus’ prayer time look like?

If we look closely at the accounts of his life we will see that Jesus used his prayer time for (at least) three things.

1) First he used it to bring IMPORTANT DECISIONS to his heavenly Father.

2) Second, he used prayer to DEAL WITH FEARS.

3) Finally he used his prayer time to INTERCEDE for his enemies and friends.

DECISION MAKING

First let’s look at his decision making. Luke 6:12 Jesus goes out to a mountain to pray, and all night he continues to pray to God. In the morning he calls his disciples and chooses from them 12 whom he called as his apostles. This may have been one of the most important decisions Jesus made and we see him spending an incredible amount of time in prayer just before it.

Do you have a major decision? Get out away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life. Find a trail, find some trees, find a mountain and pray it out with your heavenly Father.

This gives us an important insight into the nature of prayer. We often define prayer in terms of talking to God, but major decisions require that we also LISTEN. Psalm 81 has a theme of listening.

God says in verse 8 “Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, If you would but LISTEN to me!” And then again in verse 13 we see God lamenting, “Oh that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways.” In typical Hebrew parallelism we see Psalm 81 equating Listening to the LORD with walking in his ways.

When we pray over big decisions our prayer must include both speaking to God and then listening to God.

One way to listen to God is through stillness and silence.

Psalm 46:10 says “be still and know that I am God” This is why it tells us that Jesus would withdraw to isolated places to pray (Mark 1:35).

Another way to listen to God is through his written word. He has already spoken through the prophets and the apostles. If you have a big decision-  read the book. Often there is a clear answer in there. Recently I was talking to a husband about difficulties in his marriage. He wanted to know what God’s will was. We looked at Ephesians 5 where it says “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.” This was the answer he needed for his big decision. Prayerfully reading Scripture in a listening posture is how to deal with big decisions.

 

FEARS

One of Jesus’ most well known prayer times was right before his crucifixion. He goes into a grove of olive trees and takes his three closest friends, Peter, James and John. Once they are alone he becomes anguished and distressed. “He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me..’ He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying

 ‘My Father if it be possible let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.’”

As the passage unfolds we see Jesus went and prayed that same prayer three times. Jesus brought his most raw and disturbing desires to God in prayer.

 And so can we.

 

Psalm 51:6 tells us that

 

God desires honesty. 

 

Pray out your fears.

 

Pray out your ungodly desires. Pray them over and over each time declaring, “but not as I will, but as you will.”

INTERCEDING

Jesus spent some of his time in prayer lifting others up to his Father and standing in the gap on their behalf. He told Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you Simon, that your faith should not fail” (Luke 22:31). This was so key to Jesus’ prayer life that we see him doing it on his death bed as it were. From the cross we hear Jesus praying for his enemies.

 The very people who hammered the nails in his feet and mocked him and spit on him now overhear him at prayer.

“Father forgive them,” he prays “for they don’t know what they’re doing”(Luke 23:34).

He taught us to do the same in Matthew 5:44,

“Pray for those who persecute you”

Pray for your friends that they will be able to deepen their faith in Jesus. Pray for your enemies that God will forgive them. This is what Jesus would do with his day.

NOT ON YOUR OWN

As we look at Jesus’ life and we desire to become like him, it will quickly dawn on us that there is no way we can do this. He was perfect and we are not. But there is good news.

He has given us his Spirit.

 

Jesus lived the life he lived by the power of the Holy Spirit and he has given us who believe in him the same wonderful gift.

Pray like Jesus? Yeah right!

 

 

 

Pray like Jesus by the power of the Spirit? Absolutely!

That is our hope of becoming a praying people. Our only hope.

 

Romans 8 puts it this way,

“The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us.” (Romans 8:26). We do not know how we should pray but the Holy Spirit gives us the power we need to get alone and to settle down into communion with God.

If Jesus can conquer death, he can certainly make prayer-less people pray.

 

Take your fear, your decisions, your friends, and even your enemies to God in prayer, and do it now by the power of the Spirit who lives within you. 

 “Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you” - Psalm 32:6

Posted by Rich McCaskill with

Preparing our hearts for Family Sunday

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“Why do you have so many bumps on your face? It looks bad.” Kids are notorious for saying what comes to their mind. With an undeveloped filter, we can be left humbled by the honesty and bluntness of their words.

“Why, yes, sweet child of my womb, that is adult acne on my face and yes, it looks bad.”

This actual statement from one of my children is just one of many humbling statements that push me to find grace from God.

This morning, my daughter’s words were painful.

“I just don’t see the point in going to Church and hearing the same stories I already know. I don’t learn anything.”

Ugh. Stomach punch to the Children’s Deacon.

My first internal response was to feel like I’ve missed the mark as a leader in our children’s ministry. I jumped to question where we were failing to create a ministry our children enjoy. I want them to want to go to church. Shouldn’t it be fun to go to Church?

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit can move us beyond our first thought and speak some truth into our minds and hearts. I continued to ponder her question for the rest of the morning. Is there some perspective to her question that reveals an honest feeling and desire we adults have as well? Why do we belong to a Church? Why do we leave Churches? What do we look for in Churches?

If I strip down my daughter’s words I can hear this question from her heart, “What is the point of going on Sunday morning if I don’t receive anything out of it?” “What is in it for me?” There, in her exposed heart, I hear my own sin too. How often do I approach Church (the Body of Believers) as a consumer, looking to find where I can be filled, how I can be served or how I can feel good? How often do I harbor disappointment when my desires are not met when,

in reality, only God can meet those desires.

Do not hear me say that Sunday mornings shouldn’t be enjoyable or fun for our kids. We make many choices on Sunday morning to encourage a fun atmosphere. But Church is different than Netflix. If, as a children’s ministry, all we’ve done is entertain our kids and throw a Jesus stamp on it, we are failing to prepare them to actually follow Jesus in life.

Following Jesus is not always fun. There are times our hearts want to ask, “What is in this for me?”

For example, at the moment, I am having to walk in a relationship that is very difficult. I am affected by this individual’s selfishness and hurt by their lack of boundaries. There is nothing in it for me. Yet, God has placed this relationship in my life and, though I may want to, I cannot run from it. Following Jesus means to continue to love the unlovable and consider how I may choose to still be a blessing to them. Following Jesus means I am offered the opportunity not to see relationships in my life through the lens of what they can do for me.

Maybe being part of a Church is where we get to practice this.

Disappointment can expose a desire in our hearts to be filled with something other than Jesus. Maybe it can be a good thing to be disappointed with your Church.

 

What if an unmet expectation on Sunday morning meant an opportunity for my heart to say, “Thank you, Jesus, for meeting all my needs and I follow you to corporate worship even if I am disappointed.”

What if a hurt from a brother or sister in our MC meant an opportunity for my heart to say, “Thank you, Jesus, for being the perfect friend and I follow you into relationship even if I am disappointed.” What if its not about me?

I want my daughter to follow Jesus more than anything. With the perspective God gave me this morning, I realize don’t have to be fearful or threatened by her dislike of Sunday mornings. If my kids groan about going to Church on Sunday morning it could be because being a part of a Church is more difficult than turning on the TV.

Following Jesus is not the same thing as being entertained by Jesus.

As we approach Family Sunday, we might catch our hearts doing their own groaning. Family Sundays are harder. It is much easier to sit and receive on a Sunday morning than to serve and show hospitality to our kids. I am not immune to it either. May God help our perspective and give us hearts that resist being consumers. May we depend on God, the only one that does not disappoint, as we follow Jesus together.

~Kim Janous lives in Issaquah with her husband and three kids. She serves Soma Eastside as a Deacons of Children's Ministry.

Posted by Kim Janous with

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