The Lenten season is an ancient Christian practice. Originating in the 4th Century AD. It is traditionally a time of spiritual reflection, emphasizing prayer, confession, fasting, and meditation on God’s Word.Continue reading
The Lord’s Prayer (2)
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world” (vv. 20-24).
Today, is known as Holy Saturday. A day to reflect on what has taken place. A day to remember the awful consequence of Sin. Jesus has suffered death on the cross. He has been laid in a borrowed tomb. For his immediate followers, the future Is uncertain, to say the least. Holy Saturday is the day of quiet, before Resurrection Day!
Holy Saturday is also a good day to remember what our merciful God has accomplished for us. He has made a way for our salvation. He has taken care of sin’s consequence once and for all. We can live fully for him, because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us!
Jesus prays for us! He prays that we might be one with him and his Father! He prays that we might share in his purpose: the salvation of the lost. He prays that His followers together will show the world God’s plan of salvation, God’s GLORY!
The Lord’s Prayer
“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name–the name you gave me–so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (vv. 11b-19).
Jesus prayed for those who were and would one day become his followers. He prayed four things. Listen to his prayer for us. First, He prayed that we might be one. That we might experience unity of purpose with God and with each other.
Second, He prayed that we might be protected from the evil one. He knew the attacks we would endure. He prayed that we would know God to be our defender, protector, our strength.
Third, He prayed that we might have JOY, to the fullest measure. The JOY that comes to one who knows God’s Love and faithfulness.
Finally, He prayed that we might be truly sanctified, set apart by God for his service. That we would be made new in the image of our Savior wholly devoted to our God! Hear His prayer for them, for us, for you!
Not As I Will…
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
Jesus’ early morning (late night) prayer of total submission is so counter-cultural today. We live in an “I want it, now…” world of instant gratification, regardless of the cost to others, or ourselves. We are more concerned about our wants and our perceived needs than about the wants and needs of the other, whoever they might be.
I was riding in the car. We were on our way to a meeting. Traffic had slowed to a crawl. All of us were complaining about the delay, afraid we were going to miss something very important. As we passed by the scene of the accident, there were two ambulances, several police officers, and a fire engine. The conversation was about the “inconvenience” we had suffered, not prayer for those impacted by the accident.
Jesus’ prayer is the opposite of this response. His prayer was that God’s will would be done. His prayer was for the strength to do what was necessary for our salvation, even death on a cross. His prayer was not for himself, it was for us!
Pray That You Will Not Fall into Temptation
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
Jesus tells those closest to him, not once but twice, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” I would have expected him to tell them, “Pray for me!” It would not have surprised me, had he told them to pray for strength to endure the night of trouble that lay before him (and them). Instead, Jesus tells them to pray that they would not fall into temptation.
It occurs to me, Jesus shares similar words when asked by the disciples to teach them how to pray. He says, “When you pray, say: …lead us not into temptation…” (Luke 11:2, 4).
Jesus knew their weakness, and ours, we are constantly being tempted. Our enemy, Satan, is always looking for those opportunities to lead us into sin. Peter describes him from personal experience: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
We need to pray daily, regularly, this prayer: “Lord, help us not to fall into temptation!” We need to pray that God would protect us from our enemy and his advances. We need his help!
Prayer for Peter
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
I was, earlier in my life, a lot like Simon Peter. I had it all figured out. If you had a question, I had the answer. If you needed a job done, I was the one to do it. In my eyes, I was “Practically perfect in every way!” Those were pretty tough years for my family, I think. They saw the areas of my life where I had glaring weaknesses, but I did not. My parents tried to warn me. My older sister pointed out my obvious shortcomings all the time! But I was never ready to listen. So, my parents prayed for me. They prayed that I would not be tested, and, they prayed that when I was tested, I would find God to be the faithful one, truly the One who is faithful and perfect in every way.
Peter could not see the truth about himself. When Jesus tried to point it out, he was unwilling to listen. So, Jesus did the one necessary thing. He prayed for him. He prayed that when all was said and done, and the rooster had crowed, that his faith in God would not fail, that he would turn back to Him!
What Jesus saw coming for Peter happened, just as he foretold. Peter was tested and he failed. We can only imagine the shame that overwhelmed him. I can relate to this sense of failure. We can, if we are honest, put ourselves in his shoes.
But our Lord is faithful. There is forgiveness for those of us who fail in the time of testing. There is work for us to do. Peter returned to the Lord, and God set him apart to do his work! He does that for us, too!
Should I Pray…
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
This is it! The final seconds are ticking by, the basketball comes your way. The game is on the line! What will you do? Hit the pause button? Duck for cover and let the ball fly out of bounds? Catch it and pass it to another player, hoping the game clock doesn’t expire? What will you do, when the game is on the line, and you have the ball in your hands? Close your eyes, throw the ball up in the air and hope for the best? Or, will you turn to the basket and think of all those other shots you have taken on the playground and at practice, while your friends counted down the seconds? You square up to the rim, say a prayer, and fire up the “winning shot”!
It is clutch time for Jesus. The final moments of his life are ticking by. The Cross is looming on the horizon. Rejection by the crowd, the people he came to save, is the reality of the day! What will he do? Will he run and hide? Does he take the easy way out and escape to live another day? What will he do?
We know the answer. It is what we need to do, when our life and witness is on the line. He PRAYS! “Father, GLORIFY YOUR NAME!” He prays the prayer of ultimate commitment. We are here for a reason: to bear witness to the Father’s love! This is our moment to pray: “FATHER, GLORIFY YOUR NAME!”
I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All you have made will praise you, O LORD; your saints will extol you. They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. (NIV)
Today, I would encourage you to read and pray this Psalm. Make it your own. Take your time and hear God’s Word as it is addressed to you. Praise God, together with all HIS people.
Where Two Agree
“I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (vv. 18-20)
“If we only get everyone praying for this to happen; if only everyone would agree on this in prayer; THEN, God would hear our prayer and bring this to pass!”
We are certain, if God hears the prayer of two or three, then hundreds of people praying is even better. We will beat down the doors of heaven. But, God is the champion of the little child. He is the shepherd who goes out to find the one lost sheep. God cares about those everyone else considers to be too small and insignificant.
Jesus promises his followers, God looks upon the heart of those who come to him. As God said to the prophet Samuel, when he came to Jesse’s house to pick the one who would be king: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
When we come to worship God, he is not looking for numbers of believers who gather. He does not look at the name on the door, or the appearance of the structure. He looks into the heart of men and women. He looks for those who come humbly and with a heart tuned to worship, who desire to see God’s will being done on earth as in heaven; for those whose sins are forgiven, whose heart is righteous, their prayers are heard. (cf. James 5:16)
2 Chronicles 7:11-22
God, Heal Our Land!
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” (vv. 12-16)
The Temple in all its glory is completed. The dreams of the previous generations of God’s people were finally fulfilled. There it stood in all its magnificence. The glory of the Lord filled the place and the people rejoiced.
God speaks to Solomon. His words are words of warning and promise. The warnings sounded out, “Don’t neglect so great an opportunity.” God’s promise, “I am here and I will hear and respond to your prayers for help and salvation. But, come to me in obedience and trust.”
We hear these words and apply them to our land. But listen, we, who are Jesus’ followers, are the Temple of the living God. Our God dwells with us and in us. We hear these words and we recognize we are called to humble ourselves. We are called to come before God confessing our need for his mercy and grace. We are to come offering our lives as living sacrifices to the one, who has come to live in us! Paul writes: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1).