One of the most encouraging things over 17 years of ministry here is to pray with you.
Our Sunday services are generally full of prayer. You may think of the “prayer time” when one person leads us in prayers of praise and intercession for ourselves, our church and our world. And I continually find myself saying aloud ‘Amen’ to prayers led with such depth and breadth, and also reflecting the variety of personalities attending.
But our services have many more points of prayer than “the prayer time”. Think of a general thanksgiving or of confession, that give us words to take to God together, or most famously of the Lord’s Prayer. Think too of a preacher praying before or after teaching God’s Word, or a service leader opening in prayer, or closing with a prayer for blessing.
I particularly treasure each one of you who turns up to our quarterly prayer summits each term. In many ways, engagement is one of the best tests of our spiritual health.
Recently I found these words helpful from Moore College Principal, Mark Thompson:
There are many descriptions of Jesus which have echoed across the ages. Jesus is the teacher, the redeemer, the healer, and the Lord. Just as important as each of these, is the simple observation that Jesus is the one who prays. He is the teacher who prays, the redeemer who prays, the healer who prays, and the Lord who prays.
Why is prayer such an important part of Jesus’ ministry? In the Gospels, we read of him praying at critical moments throughout his earthly ministry: when confronted by the direction that ministry would go, at Capernaum (Mark 1:35); during the course of his teaching ministry (Matt 11:25–26); before Lazarus’ tomb (John 11:41); in the upper room with his disciples (John 17:1–26); just prior to his arrest (Matt 26:39–44); and from the cross (Luke 23:34, 46). At other points he told others he had prayed for them (Luke 22:32). Enthroned at the right hand of heaven, we are assured Jesus continues to pray for those who have drawn near to God through him (Heb 7:25).
Jesus’ prayer is a real expression of his willingness to direct his life according to his Father’s will. It was at the same time his participation in the unfolding of his Father’s will. He prayed to his Father and his prayers themselves realised the will of his Father on earth. Jesus is our model for prayer as well as our encouragement to pray. He invited us to follow his own pattern of prayer, calling upon God as our Father because of the work of God’s Spirit within us (Rom 8:15) and praying to our Father who sees and hears what is done in secret (Matt 6:6). And with that broad context, Jesus says “whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you” (John 6:23).
Prayer is a wonderful privilege that directs our will according to that of our loving heavenly Father. Our prayer is also a way the Lord gives us to participate in his sovereign and gracious rule over all things. Please keep praying….
Warmly in Christ,