Tools for Intimacy: Prayer

September 2, 2009 at 4:41 pm (Biblei-Octopi) (, )

After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone (Matthew 14:23 NIV)

Jesus set the example of purposefully carving out time in His day, often early in the morning, to spend time with The Father. Jesus practiced an intimate and robust relationship with God. Jesus calls His disciples, those who follow Him, to pray and teaches them how to do so. We see Jesus’ commitment to this discipline as Christ nears the time of His crucifixion, removing Himself from all else to again be close to The Father.
Something that should ring in our ears, is the same question that Jesus posed to His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane: “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” (Matthew 16:40 NIV) We can hear in this interaction that:

1) There is a sense of diligence and discipline in prayer – Jesus set aside time to pray, He didn’t squeeze it in, He would wake up early and even retreat from the crowds when needed.
2) There is a sense of importance and intimacy in prayer – Jesus didn’t treat prayer as a good idea, He practiced a disciplined and intimate daily retreat with The Father.
3) There is a sense of consequence when we disregard prayer – Guilt alone should not be our motivation, but there is a reality to intimacy lost when we do not carve out time to be with God.

When we look at the example and teaching of Jesus on prayer, there are a few key foundations we must understand in order to exercise this tool of intimacy properly.

Prayer is not a vending machine – While Jesus taught that we bring our requests to God because He is our loving Father who enjoys to give us good things, we must understand that He gives the good we need in accordance with His plans for us rather than the good we want and think is best for ourselves. In the prayers and instructions on prayer from Jesus, the consistent phrasing is that of, “Your will be done,” even while He is at His deepest struggle in preparing for His death upon the cross.

Prayer is intimate – The address that Jesus instructs is, “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” God is above us but He is not detached from us. We approach God with the proper respect and love of a child toward a loving and holy father. In Christ we are heirs to a promise, we are sons of God, as such we come in confidence before our holy God and our foremost desire is to honor our Father.

(Controversial) Prayer is not powerful* – God is. We come in loving submission, in a time set aside for intimacy with our heavenly Father. We come to submit and appeal to the holy will of God. As we abide in His presence and walk in loving obedience, His power and blessing go before us. His kingdom fleshes out in our lives, our needs are met, Satan is defeated and our love for God is shown in our love for others – this is the power of God transferred through the intimacy of prayer.

Take some time to read and/or recite the Lord’s Prayer (aka The Model Prayer, found in Matthew 6:9-13) – pray through what Jesus is teaching us about where our hearts should be directed when we set aside time for intimacy with God.

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*Powerful and effective as described in James 5:16, it is powerful because it brings man under submission to the instruction of God and effective because God answers righteous prayers – prayers that are consistent with His revealed will. The verse does not teach that if we are righteous we can ask for whatever we want and God will bend to our will, a righteous man is walking in step with God and by that intimacy his requests are in accordance to God’s will (no more clearer than Jesus in Gethsemane).

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