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Archive for November 19th, 2011

 Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 1)

Jesus In Deep Prayer

Jesus In Deep Prayer

[Jesus:] “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.  …. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.  (cf.,Jn.16:24-27)

“I [Paul] am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of gloryIt is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.” (Col.1:24-29)

“Examine yourselves to see whether y are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test!” (2 Cor. 13:5)

“My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you (Gal. 4:19)

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Dear Pilgrims and Fellow Members of the Body of Christ,

One of the greatest responsibilities we have as members of Christ’s earthly body, His Church, is prayer.  But REAL prayer, not just the rote repetition of scripted religious piety, prayer that is a heart to heart dialogue with the Our God as Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Prayer that flows out of our meditation on His Word. Prayer that is constantly seeking His face and His Will to perform it. Prayer that comes from a yielded spirit that is not seeking anything for “self” but only the Glory of the Father and His Kingdom!  Prayer that comes forth out of the spiritual awareness that we are “in Christ and that Christ is in us” – an awareness that compels us to yield ourselves in Love to Christ so that He may live and pray through us to the Father.

The reason that this level of prayer is required of us is that it is only through this level of prayer that we can fulfill the destiny that Our Father has for us, the Body of Christ – the destiny of being conformed to the image of the Son (Rom. 8:29). For,  “Unto each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ… till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God… unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:7, 13).

In order to grow into the Christ-likeness the Father intends for us, we must pray as Christ prayed, we must walk as He walked, we must be empowered by the Holy Spirit as He was empowered and we must fulfill the Father’s will as He fulfilled the Father’s will to bring forth the Glory of His Kingdom here on this Earth. In effect we are here to continue Jesus’ ministry in this world! This is beyond anything our hapless humanity can accomplish – only the Holy Spirit working in us and through us can transform us and empower us to bring us to this point. We are new creation in HIM, but the Holy Spirit will not activate our new self without our yielding totally to the will of the Father.

“And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2Cor.5:15-17)

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” (1Cor.6:19-20)

Yes, brothers and sisters, we have been bought for a price and our lives are no longer our own, it is our destiny, yea even our mission in life to give ourselves totally to the Spirit of God to conform us to Jesus, so that He, living and working through us, might bring to completion the purpose for which He was sent, namely, to bring the Kingdom of His Father to this world and, thus, restore God’s creation to its original Glory!

Yes, he died to save us from the power of evil and to be with Him in Heaven for eternity, but He also gave Himself for His “called out ones” in this world, His Ecclesia”, that so that we could take His mantle and carry on His ministry until He comes to reign. He died for us, taking on our sins so that we could be restored as children of the Father and, that as His Brothers and Sisters, we might become inheritors of the Kingdom with Him who is our King, so we, that as His commissioned envoys, may enforce, through faith, His Word and His Promises to bring forth His Kingdom for the Glory of the Father!

We, His Body, then, are called to be His deputies in bringing forth the Kingdom in this world in preparation for His Coming as King!   However, without true, intimate, spiritual prayer and communion with the Divine we cannot achieve the end for which we were created.  Without prayer we cannot be attached to Him, the Vine, and without being attached we cannot bring forth fruit!

That is why I previously mentioned, in another article, that the foundational prayer model for true discipleship is “the Lord’s Prayer” or what it really should be called, “the Disciples Prayer”. This prayer, mentioned by both Matthew and Luke, once spiritually understood, clearly lays out the Father’s plan to have us be His Partners in enforcing His Promises and His will in order to bring forth His Kingdom in this world.

Looking more carefully at Chapter 11 of Luke’ Gospel we see that the evangelist was not just recounting a series of unrelated stories about Jesus’ prayer life and His sayings, but rather was taking these sayings and teachings to string together a spiritual lesson, laying out the importance of prayer in bringing forth The Kingdom in our world today!

Let us first analyze these initial themes and order of these teachings/sayings so that we may discern what Luke is attempting to tell us through these teachings of Jesus.

Chapter 11 of Luke’s gospel begins with the three major themes that indicate the importance we need to place on our personal prayer in order to begin to fulfill the roles the Father has destined for us in fulfilling the portion of Jesus’ ministry that has been designated for us. The scriptures that specify these themes are: Luke 11: 1-4; Luke 11:5-8; and Luke 11:9-13. In order to help your meditation on these teachings I will go through each with my own annotations, which are there to help you, but which I urge you to read, test and reinterpret these scriptures as the Spirit leads you.

The First Theme:  The Prayer of Dedication (The Disciples’ Prayer)

(Luke 11:1)  He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

– Here, in this situation Luke is attempting to convey that the Holy Spirit moved the disciples to desire to pray as Jesus prayed.  Do you feel led by the Spirit to have Him bring you to the point where you can pray as Jesus prayed? This desire is the starting point to the Way of Discipleship. If you don’t have it yet, pray for it when you pray the “Disciples Prayer”, not out of routine piety but out of a heartfelt desire and need to follow our Master.

(Luke 11:2-4) He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.

– Here Jesus tells His disciples that through the relationship they have with Him they are to address their prayer directly to the “Father”. In addressing God as   personal “Father” He is going against all the traditions of the Jewish people. In fact this is one of the accusations that was made against Him, that “He claims that God is His ‘Father’ ” (Jn 5:18). Now, Jesus is intimating to His Disciples that if they are to pray as He prays, they are to also address God as their Father not just the Father of the Jewish People, which was acceptable, but as the personal  “Father” for each one of them. Note that the term used by Luke is the more personal, “[my]Father”, not “Our Father”,  as in Mathew’s version. Now, we have to ask ourselves when we say this prayer do we really understand in our spirits that we are addressing our own spiritual parent, the creator of the Universe, the one who has made us a New Creation in Christ, and not just some pietistic name for Deity? Do we really understand the unimaginable upgrade we have in Jesus to be able to address God as “our Father”, presuming, in faith, the same relationship that Jesus had?  And then there is the even more unimaginable offer we are making as His Children, namely. to ask Him to manifest His Kingdom, through us by offering ourselves, through the surrender of our individual will and self to Him? To clarify that this prayer is not to bring you to some “blue sky’ concept of an ethereal paradise, Mathew’s version adds: “…(so that) thy will [may] be done [here and now] on Earth as it is in Heaven”. Now this is what makes this prayer a prayer of dedication for you, as a disciple –  a prayer opens you to the reign of God in your Life!  A prayer that prepares you to “Pray as Jesus Prayed”!

(Luke 11:3) Give us each day our daily bread.

– Here Jesus indicates that our prayer of dedication MUST first acknowledge our humanness and complete dependence on the Father for both our spiritual and material sustenance. Without this sustenance, we cannot our of our own humanness, expect to be effective in being obedient to Him and His Word, That is why Jesus, in John’s Gospel says: “Without me you can do nothing” (Jn.:15:5). And that is also why in another place in John, He says; “I am the Bread of Life” and, “…those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” (Jn 5:35; Jn 6:56). We, in the Catholic tradition of faith, are able to fulfill this spiritual source of sustenance through the reception of the Eucharist, with the proviso, … “if we receive in faith, so that by partaking of His Body and Blood, He is strengthening and renewing His Presence in us” so that His Kingdom may be realized in us in the events and circumstances into which, by the Father’s grace and providence we have been placed.

(Luke 11:4) “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”

– In Luke’s version, Jesus concludes the model of the prayer of dedication He is teaching His disciples by also indicating that without forgiveness they cannot be the Father’s envoys to bring forth the Kingdom. For His is a kingdom of Love and since He Is Love, His Love must rule your heart. If we do not forgive, we are in sin and we CANNOT do His will when we are in rebellion against His will! But if we sin we have an advocate before the father, so that if we confess our sins we will be forgiven (1Jn.1:8-10). The concluding line indicates our awareness of our human weaknesses and tendency to sin and asks that He keep us from trials that will lead us to sin. Again, in the Catholic tradition, after we confess our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we ask that He “… keep us from the near occasions of Sin” or situations that are beyond our spiritual maturity and wisdom so that we will not fail to bring forth fruit for His Glory and For His Kingdom.

Psalm 15

1 O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

2 He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart;

3 who does not slander with his tongue, and does no evil to his friend, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;

4 in whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD;  who swears to his own hurt and does not change;

5 who does not put out his money at interest, and does not take a bribe against the innocent.  He who does these things shall never be moved.

“For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power and the Glory for ever, Amen.” (Matt. 6;13))

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This, then, in commentary, is what the Disciples’ Prayer is about. It is a prayer, that, when said from the heart, with full understanding of the commitment you are making, reiterates your desire to pray as Jesus prayed, and commit yourself to the “Obedience of Love” as Jesus committed Himself. In doing so, your focus in life, from here on, will be to seek the Father’s will in all that you do. In so doing you will comply with other of Jesus’ exhortations, namely, to  “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness…” (Matt. 6:33) and to embody in ourselves Jesus’ own statement of dedication, “… Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (John 5:19).

In my next article on this subject (Praying as Jesus Prayed Part 2) I will comment on the remaining two themes on Prayer at the beginning of Luke Chapter 11 (cf., Luke 11:5-8; and Luke 11:9-13).

Please pray, read, and meditate on these scriptures so that you may respond to the Spirit’s call on your life to permit the Spirit of Jesus to live and pray through you!  For it is to this level of prayer we are all called as we are being conformed more and more into the image of Christ.

Praised be His Holy Name!

Your Fellow Pilgrim in Christ …  Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2011])

Recommended Links

§ Sweet Yoke of Love
§ Releasing The Spirit
§ Hearing His Voice…. and Obeying it
§ Praying In the Spirit
§ Responding To the Spirit’s Call
§ The Kingdom of God Our Spiritual Inheritance

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