(Disclaimer: No one knows the answer to this question completely…least of all me)
Have you ever wondered why Jesus spent so much time in prayer? We don’t read very often about Jesus being at the synagogue with a scroll unrolled pouring over the text, but we do read things like this:
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Jesus was only here for about thirty-three years and He spent a huge amount of His time praying. Jesus never sinned so He wasn’t confessing anything. However, I think we find a clue to one of the reasons Jesus prayed in this verse.
For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
Since Jesus was born of a woman just as you and I are, He shared something we share; a human will.
One of the things that makes us special is the fact that we have a will and we can choose to follow God or not follow God. Jesus was no different. Everything He did down here was a choice. He was the only human who ever did it perfectly and without His perfect life, we would all be damned. The humans that lived at that time did everything in their power to make Jesus hate them, but love won. How? How did Jesus maintain love in the midst of this hellish place called earth? I don’t know all the answers but I think I have a clue. He prayed. In the times He stole away to be alone with His Father, He did something profound that each of us should practice every single day.
He exchanged His will for His Father’s.
Greek Definition of “To Pray” (proseuchomai)
- to exchange wishes
- literally, to interact with the Lord by switching human wishes (ideas) for His wishes as He imparts faith (“divine persuasion“).
That definition is fully loaded and astounding. Jesus was fully human so when He prayed, He would interact with the Father and switch His human wishes for the Father’s wishes.
This makes so much sense as to why Jesus would steal away and pray through the night or escape from the adoring crowds to pray. He had a will and He had to get alone with God and exchange His will for His Father’s; daily.
No wonder when Jesus taught the disciples to pray, He said:
“This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Jesus knew one of the main reasons we are to pray is to exchange our wishes (we all have them) for God’s wishes. Jesus wanted us to know when we come to our Father, that He is above all our circumstances and set apart (hallowed). He is trustworthy.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
A straight path rarely equals an easy path.
If our lives are consistently easy; we may be cutting our own path; not God’s.
God’s path could take us to all kinds of places. For Paul and Silas, that path took them to flogging and jail (for preaching the Gospel). As they lived in that “scene” of the day, they were able to sing praises. Why? Because they knew God was unfolding His will for them and they were in a scene that He had orchestrated. Since they were in His preferred will, God caused an earthquake, all the doors opened, and chains fell off of every prisoner. The jailer and his whole family were saved (and probably many of the prisoners).
Paul and Silas didn’t waste their time asking God to get them out of jail or whine about doing the right thing and getting beaten. Prayer had already settled who was in charge of the day and they knew it was God. Therefore, God could unfold the next scene and blow away every single person around them by His power.
We see this great exchange in a very real and painful way as Jesus prayed before He went to the cross. He asked God if He would spare Him from the cross three times. Jesus went to God over and over until He finally came to the place prayer is to take us; “not my will but your will be done.”
It wasn’t a sin to ask God for what Jesus wished.
However, it would have turned to sin if He had decided He was going to do His will over God’s will.
Sin is so much more than doing something wrong. It is not doing exactly what God wants all day long. That sounds impossible and suffocating until we understand that a surrendered person is the will of God.
When you are rightly related to God, it is a life of freedom and liberty and delight, you are God’s will, and all your commonsense decisions are His will for you unless He checks. You decide things in perfect delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will always check; when He checks, stop at once.
As Jesus walked this earth, He let God unfold His days before Him. Interruptions were the will of God. He was never in a hurry. He lived minute by minute in perfect fellowship with His Father.
Jesus taught us to pray because prayer was His lifeline and He knew exactly how to do it.
He knew He only had to live one day at a time so He told us to ask for daily provision.
Give us this day our daily bread….
Daily Bread is a life changing truth.
Bread (artos)-Greek Definition
- (properly) bread
- (figuratively) divine provision; all the sustenance God supplies to yielded believers scene-by-scene to live in His preferred-will.
Thank God for Bible Hub and being able to see what words actually mean. Jesus used that word because He knew the double meaning. Yes, we need daily food, but we also need God to unfold each day before us and give us all we need. God’s will is impossible for us unless He supplies every single thing we need to live it (has anyone tried to love their enemies or not worry about anything lately?).
Jesus wasn’t praying about going to the cross everyday for the three years.
His agony and exchange of wills happened when He needed it; that day. He would have never enjoyed life if He had spent it dreading the future (He already knew it by the way).
He loved being with His Father above everyone else.
He would pray in the morning, during the day, or in the evening. There was no formula. We can’t think of anything to pray for more life changing than what God has already planned for us.
IF you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
If we remain in oneness with the Godhead, we will always get our prayers answered because our wishes and God’s wishes will be the same. We will never trust God or walk in faith without lots of time in prayer. It’s impossible.
I hope this changes our focus from a prayer list to an open heart and open mind to let God transform our thinking.
Prayer, in reality, is the opposite of what we think it is.
We think it’s getting what we want from God when it is actually God giving us what he wants for us and the world around us.
I have always felt a little uncomfortable in this easy place called America. I love our freedoms here but if we don’t stay in the presence of God through prayer, we can easily love our freedoms and fight for our comfort over advancing God’s Kingdom.
In the documentary “Sheep Among Wolves,” there’s a part I can’t get out of my mind.
A Christian Iranian husband and wife escaped religious oppression and persecution and came to America where they could freely live out their faith. After living in America for a while, the wife begged her husband to return to their home country. He thought she was out of her mind. “Who wants to go back to Iran under all sorts of oppression where the sharing of your faith could bring the end of your life or brutal incarceration or rape or all sorts of horrible things?” But she insisted, explaining, “There’s a satanic lullaby here. All the Christians are sleepy—and I’m feeling sleepy.”
That dear lady from Iran had won the battle through prayer. God wanted her back in Iran and prayer got her will lined up with God’s. Her life and comfort ceased to matter. She was excited about going to a horrible place. God would do that same thing in every single one of us.
Prayer may not take us to Iran but it would take us to the place of true joy and power; the will of God. Nothing on this planet can stop a person operating in that place of power; “Thy will be done on earth as IT IS in heaven.”
His will is already a reality in heaven, our “yes” brings that unstoppable force to earth.
Jesus stood calmly before Pilate as His earthly life hung in the balance. Flogging and crucifixion awaited Him and He knew it. Yet He stood, unfazed. How? Nothing on earth could move Him because the battle was already fought and won by prayer. He prayed in weakness and fear. He rose from prayer in power. Why? His will was left on the ground, God’s will became His strength.