Editor's note:

The Reservoir is a fifteen-month weekday devotional that moves through the six major Christian traditions outlined by Richard Foster in Streams of Living Water. The excerpt below is from Month Four: The Prayer-Filled Life.

—Renovaré Team

Excerpt from The Reservoir

Monday

PRAYER

Real prayer comes not from gritting our teeth but from falling in love.
— Richard Foster

For the next eight weeks we will swim in the first of the six great streams we find modeled in the life of Jesus—the “prayer-filled life.” Prayer is interaction with the God who loves and delights in us. It is what our hearts long for, what we are made for. It is listening, it is talking, it is abiding in the presence of God. We need a teacher—the Teacher—to show us how. And so this week we look at how Jesus prayed. First, though, let’s start with a passage from Richard Foster’s book Prayer to catch a glimpse of the heart of God:

Today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and preoccupation. He mourns that we do not draw near to him. He grieves that we have forgotten him. He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness. He longs for our presence. And he is inviting you—and me—to come home, to come home to where we belong, to come home to that for which we were created. His arms are stretched out wide to receive us. His heart is enlarged to take us in.

Read: John 5:19

Reflect:

  1. In John 5:19, Jesus talks about doing “only what he sees the Father doing.” What does it mean to see what the Father is doing? How do you think prayer helps us to see that?
  2. Take a few minutes to talk with God. Ask God to teach you how to pray and lift up anything else on your heart.

Tuesday

FOR JESUS, PRAYER TOOK PRIORITY

The soul anchor established in solitude will remain solid when you return to your ordinary life with others. — Dallas Willard

Jesus was a very busy person, yet he always made prayer a priority. One might easily conclude from reading the Gospels that the central focus of Jesus’ life was his relationship with the Father. He said that he could do nothing apart from the Father and that his entire mission in life was to do his will. We see this focus in Jesus’ daily life. He frequently left the crowds to be alone with the Father, retreating to “a deserted place” (Matthew 14:13) to pray. He became a role model for the disciples; when they looked at Jesus, they longed to be like him, to have the same kind of intimacy with God that he had.

Read: Matthew 14:13–23

Reflect:

  1. Matthew 14:22–23 tells us that Jesus made his disciples get into the boat “immediately” while he sent the multitudes away so that he could pray alone on the mountain. Why do you think he went immediately? Why was that need so pressing?
  2. Today’s passage opens with “when Jesus heard this.” The event Jesus heard about was the death of John the Baptist. How do you draw nearer to the Father in times of stress and grief?

Wednesday

THE BUSIER HE GOT, THE MORE HE PRAYED

I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.
— Martin Luther

Jesus was a person of prayer. He prayed regularly; he prayed often. The busier he got, the more he talked with God. Why? Because he always looked to the Father for instruction and strength. “I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me” (John 8:28).

From God Jesus heard what to do and say. And by spending time with God in intimate prayer, he gained the strength to carry out what was asked of him.

By his actions, Jesus became a model, a “divine paradigm” that we can imitate.

Read: Psalm 46

Reflect:

The Psalms are quoted by Jesus more than any other book of the Old Testament, and no doubt Jesus knew and prayed today’s psalm. It’s wonderful to imagine Jesus, perhaps alone on a mountain, praying this very psalm. Praying the Psalms is one way to imitate him. Today read Psalm 46 aloud, slowly. On an index card write down a word or phrase that stands out to you. Carry this with you and return to it throughout the day.


Thursday

ABBA

Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God. — Mother Teresa

What set Jesus apart from the disciples was the intimate relationship he had with the Father. Jesus addressed God as “Abba, Father.” This manner of addressing God indicates closeness, love, and a trusting relationship like that of children to their parents. Jesus was not afraid to talk with God, to share his deepest feelings.

In the Garden of Gethsemane—at his moment of greatest need—Jesus prayed. His prayer was full of faith: “For you all things are possible.” His prayer was honest: “Remove this cup from me.” And in the end, his prayer expressed a desire to do the will of God: “Yet, not what I want, but what you want.”

Read: Mark 14:32–36

Reflect:

  1. Do you think there is a connection between Jesus’ address of God as Abba and his willingness to surrender to God’s will?
  2. Take a few minutes to read today’s passage out loud, slowly. Listen for a word or phrase that stands out you. If you’d like, share that word or phrase with a friend and consider why it stood out to you.

Friday

ABBA’S HEART

Jesus wants to make it clear that the God of whom he speaks is a God of compassion who joyously welcomes repentant sinners into his house.
— Henri Nouwen

The most vivid picture of God’s tender love comes in the parable of the prodigal son. A wayward son who has squandered his inheritance returns to his father in repentance and remorse, expecting judgment and punishment. Instead he receives a loving welcome and a warm embrace. This is God’s nature, what he is like. If in our deepest being we believed God to be this way—a loving, forgiving Father—praying to him and talking with him would not be a chore or a duty, but rather would be our inner desire throughout the day. God longs for us, searches for us—even through Jesus lays down his life for us—in hopes that we will respond to his longing, searching, self-sacrificing love. Once we catch a glimpse of what God is like we will want to spend time with him.

Read: Luke 15:11–32

Reflect:

  1. The father in this parable gives us a snapshot of the nature of God. How does this picture match or not match your own understanding of what God is like?
  2. How does the way you picture God affect the way you pray?

Renovaré Book Club: Next Book Begins Soon

The next book in the Renovaré Book Club, Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle, runs February 3-March 21. Join others online or in-person, or take a guided journey through the book on your own.

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