Jesus in Prayer

Luke 11:1.---' As he was praying in a certain place.'

The fact that Jesus prayed brings Him very near to us in His true manhood. We thank God for the story of His weariness when He sat on the well, and of His slumber when, worn out with a hard day's work. He slept on the hard wooden pillow in the stern of the fishing boat among the nets and litter. It brings Him near to us when we read that He thirsted, and nearer still when the immortal words fall on our wondering ears, ' Jesus wept.' But even more precious than these indications of His true participation in physical needs and human emotion is the great evidence of His prayers---that He too lived a life of dependence, of communion, and of submission; that in our religious life, as in all our life, He is our pattern and forerunner. As the Epistle to the Hebrews puts it, He shows that He is not ashamed to call us brethren by this, that He too avows that He lives by faith; and by His life---and surely pre-eminently by His prayers---declares, ' I will put my trust in him.' We cannot think of Christ too often or too absolutely as the object of faith; and as the hearer of our cries; but we may, and some of us do, think of Him too seldom as the pattern of faith, and as the example of our devotion. We should feel Him a great deal nearer us; and the fact of His manhood would not only be grasped more clearly by orthodox believers, but would be felt in more of its true tenderness, if we gave more prominence in our thoughts to that picture of the praying Christ.

How did Jesus pray? He prayed with His whole complex being unified into a channel of prayer.

Jesus prayed with His physical body.---His physical body entered into the prayer life of Jesus. His body had its moods of weariness and heaviness, and all the physical liabilities to weakness, but He compelled His body to become a perfect channel of His mind and spirit. He conquered its moods. And a great deal of our impotence in prayer as Christian people arises from the surrender to our physical moods. A great deal of the spiritual declension of many has come through listening to the voice of the body in its weariness, in its moods, in its lack of desire to pray. We yield to the pleadings of the body infinitely more easily than the athlete. The athlete who is preparing to row, or to play football, conquers every mood of his body that it may be a perfect means of achievement. Christ conquered His physical life in prayer, and if we are to be men of prayer we must have the courage to bend our physical life into obedience; and that is no small matter. We talk about courage in the big things, in the dramatic crises of our life, but here is a call for courage every morning and every evening, to train our physical life into obedience to our higher life.

The mind of Jesus entered into His prayers.---His mind was assailed by secondary suggestions. Secondary duties tried to usurp the first place, but Jesus concentrated His mind by an act of will upon that Divine thing for which He should pray. He agonized, and part of the mysterious agony of Jesus was the concentration of His mind while sinister suggestions were clamoring for the first place. We sometimes hear people say that they cannot concentrate in prayer; they say that is one of their failings. But those same people may be able to concentrate at cards. They can concentrate at the theatre, or upon a light novel. The lack of concentration in prayer is not lack of mental ability. It is simply a lack of interest. Every one of us has the power of concentration upon the thing in which we are sufficiently interested.

I think wanderings in prayer must be treated according to their causes. Sometimes they arise from bodily causes [headache, fatigue, ect.], and then they should be regarded as a Cross. Do your best you can to surmount them; but if, after all effort, they remain, do not think of them as really spoiling prayer. God sees your will to pray.

But more often they arise from some moral defect, such as unbraced faith, self-absorption, willful irritation. Try to trace them to their source. Why could I not pray today? Was it not because I was set on my own way, and would not accept God's? Was it not because I failed to lift up my heart to God, and did not try to put away self-centered thoughts? Was it not because I brooded over my cares, and was not prepared to cast them on Him? If you can find out the cause, the remedy is usually clear, though it may take time and trouble to apply it. If the cause is not evident, still it probably lies in some such precautions as these. Remain quiet a few minutes before prayer, trying to remember God's presence, your right to draw near in Christ, the promised power of the Holy Ghost: think over your petitions before you ask them: 'Is this just what I ought to desire and ask for? or is it self-will ? ' Then kneel and make your requests known, breaking them up with occasional acts of recollection of God, of faith in Him, of submission, and especially of thanksgiving. Thanks-giving is wings to prayer.

The spirit of Jesus entered into His prayer life.---He was always conscious of the nearness of His Father. When Jesus asked for anything, He believed at that moment He received it. That is to say, Jesus based His certainty of having received what He asked, not by His feelings, not by the sight of His eyes; He based it on the character and promises of God. Here we go astray. We believe our prayers are answered if we see or if we feel them answered. The teaching of the whole Bible is that first of all we must claim the answer. Take, for example, the story of the walls of Jericho. The people shouted before the walls fell. This is the Bible accent, that is faith, that is victory, to shout before the walls fall. Anybody can shout after; there is no religion in that. And so Christ claimed His answer before His eyes saw it, before His feelings revealed it. So it must be with us. We must believe on the bare word of God. Those warriors in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews were men and women who grasped that great fundamental idea of God's dealings with men.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha