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?

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Originally published September 2019