In this issue we are centering on the life of prayer and intimacy with God. And in this regard we can find no better place for help than in the life of Jesus, the Divine Paradigm for conjugating all the verbs of prayer. Like the reoccurring stitch pattern in a quilt, so prayer threads its way throughout Jesus’ life.

Living

As he was baptized by John, he “was praying” (Luke 3:21). Before choosing the twelve, he “spent the night in prayer” (Luke 6:12). When Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him “up the mountain to pray,” his face changed “while he was praying” (Luke 9:28-29). After an exhausting evening of healing, Jesus got up early in the morning “and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). Jesus’ fiercest anger came when he saw how people had turned the temple, which he said was to be a house of prayer, into a den of robbers (Matt. 22:13). It was after Jesus finished “praying in a certain place” that the disciples asked him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1).

Teaching

And teach them he did! And teach us he does! Not only the now famous “Lord’s Prayer,” but teaching piled upon teaching. He teaches us to come to God in the most intimate of way, saying, “Abba, Father” (Mark 14:36). He gives us parables about the “need to pray always and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1). He teaches us to pray “in secret,” to “Pray for those who persecute you,” to “forgive, if you have anything against anyone” when praying, to “believe that what you say will come to pass,” to ask “the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest,” and much, much more (Matt. 6:6, 5:44, 9:38; Mark 11:24-25).

Practicing

And the teachings are matched by continual practice, not only of prayer itself, but of intense times of solitude—an accompanying means to prayer. Arising from the baptismal waters, the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness for forty days (Matt. 4:1). After learning of the beheading of his dear friend and cousin, John the Baptizer, Jesus “withdrew … to a deserted place by himself” (Matt. 14:13). After feeding the five thousand, he immediately “went up the mountain by himself to pray” (Matt. 14:23). When the disciples were exhausted from the pressures of ministry, Jesus told them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). After the healing of a leper, Luke seems to be describing more of a regular practice than a single incident when he notes that Jesus “would withdraw to deserted places and pray” (Luke 5:16).

How Shall We Then Live?

Doesn’t this cursory look at Jesus’ living and teaching and practicing stir within you longings for a deeper, richer, fuller experience of prayer? Don’t you ache for a steadfast faith, a boundless hope, an undying love? Jesus—who retreated often into the rugged Judean mountains, who lived and worked praying, who heard and did only what he saw the Father hearing and doing—points the way.

Starting Soon: The 2018-19 Renovaré Book Club

How do we read for transformation, not just information? Choose books that stir the soul and have an enduring quality. Then read with God and others at an unhurried pace, attentive to what the Holy Spirit wants to teach. The Renovaré Book Club is designed for transformative reading. It runs October 2018—May 2019.

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