Friday, August 8, 2008

The Gospel of Luke and Prayer

As I was reading through Luke, I couldn't help, but notice Jesus' prayer life and the amazing things that happened after Luke mentions praying. A good verse to headline this entry would be:

Luke 5:16 But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

Admittedly, my prayer life is not the best and I'm hoping this study will help you and me become more diligent in our prayer life. I believe this is a good compliment to my recent entry on Jesus and His high view of the Scripture.

1. Luke 1:8Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, 9according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. 11And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.

After Zacharias went into to do his priestly service (and no doubt praying) and the multitude outside pleading with God, Gabriel appears and announces the birth of John the Baptist.

2. Luke 2;36And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. 38At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

This woman who had an incredible prayer life was given the privilege to see Christ.

3. Luke 3:21Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."

This is something I did not notice before. After His baptism, while He was praying that the Spirit descended and the Father's voice came out.

4. Luke 6:12It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. 13And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:

After spending a whole night in prayer, Jesus chose the 12 Apostles on which the foundation of the church is built (cf. Eph 2:20). I can't help, but assume that He did pray for them and I noticed that before making this big decision, the Bible notes that he prayed all night long. If Jesus does this for big decisions, how much more should we?

5. Luke 9:18And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, "Who do the people say that I am?" 19They answered and said, "John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again." 20And He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God."

The great confession that Jesus is the Christ came after prayer.

6. Luke 9:28 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. 30And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, 31who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

Wow, I never noticed this, but just like in His baptism, while Jesus was praying was he Transfigured! I also noticed that Jesus took the "Big 3" with Him to pray. Can you imagine being asked by Jesus to come pray with Him? That would be so awesome, yet I must admit I keep thinking "Could I keep up with Him? What if He goes on too long? What if I fall asleep?"

7. Luke 11:1 It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples

After observing Jesus pray (which must have been quite a sight) they wanted to know how to pray. Jesus instructs them:

a) The Lord's Prayer
b) To be persistent
c) To ask, seek, and knock
d) God will definitely answer our prayers and give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him

8. Luke 18:1 Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,

This instruction to pray at all times (cf. 1 Thess 5:17) is followed immediately by the parable of the unrighteous judge which ended by Jesus saying in Luke 18 "6Hear what the unrighteous judge said; 7now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8"I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"

9. Jesus quoting Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11 says in Luke 19:46 "It is written, ' AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,' but you have made it a ROBBERS' DEN." He calls the temple a house of prayer - do you think prayer might be important?

10. Do not offer fake prayers for appearance sake b/c God knows as the Lord put in Luke 20:47 as He was warning the Pharisees, "for appearance's sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation"

11. Luke 21:36"But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

The last verse of the Olivet discourse ends by Jesus telling the people to pray to escape the foreordained events that are about to follow. The way to be delivered from the terrible events that will happen is through prayer.

12. Luke 21:37Now during the day He was teaching in the temple, but at evening He would go out and spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet.

Another glimpse into the prayer life of Jesus. During His last week, He went to pray on the Mount of Olives.

13. Luke 22:31"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."

Jesus protected Peter from Satan through prayer. Not quite sure what to make of all this, but we can see Jesus believed in the power of prayer.

14. Luke 22:40 "When He arrived at the place, He said to them, " Pray that you may not enter into temptation."
Luke 22:46 "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation."

Echoes of the Lord's prayer ("and lead us not into temptation")? Jesus emphasizing that through prayer the apostles could be rescued from temptation or should I say delivered from evil.

15. Luke 22:44 "And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground."

This is Jesus at the garden of Gethsemane. You must find a copy of C.J. Mahaney's sermon from the first Resolved conference and listen to it. It is absolutely the best explanation of what was going on in this garden. Jesus knew better than anyone the Holiness and Justice of God and b/c of this He knew exactly the pain He was to endure on the Cross. In Matthew and Mark Jesus says His soul was "grieved to death" and C.J. Mahaney makes the point that given the situation, perhaps Jesus was grieved almost to the point of death. We can see that Jesus was praying so hard that His sweat was like blood! After this prayer we can see that the greatest event of all history happened, the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion: It is evident from Luke's Gospel the high priority Jesus placed on prayer. We can see that many important things happened during or right after Luke mentions Christ praying. We should always be praying at all times as Luke 18:1 states and to give heed to all the instruction and examples Jesus gave us regarding prayer.