The Gospel of John #5
Over the past month, we’ve been talking about the divinity of Jesus, as revealed in the Gospel of John.
We talked about the fact that Jesus isn’t just a good man... he wasn’t as some say, only a prophet... and he was more than just a teacher of morality.
He is the sovereign Lord... the Messiah... he was there as an equal part of the Trinity (God the Father, Son and Spirit) at the creation of the heavens and earth. He is the very Word of God. And he’s intimately acquainted with all our ways... he knows the plans he has for our lives, and he’s working everything out (the good & the bad and everything in between) to see that plan is accomplished. Jesus knows the way to the Father, because he is the Way... not “a way” - but The Way. We can trust Jesus when we can’t trust anything else in this life. Jesus is God.
Maybe you noticed... today our scripture lesson is completely “red” - red letters, that is... indicating these words were spoken by Jesus himself. It’s a prayer Jesus offered for his disciples... sometimes referred to as the “High Priestly Prayer” of Jesus, or occasionally called the actual “Lord’s Prayer.”
Jesus regularly connected with the Father during his time on earth by praying... which is confounding at times! I get it! Since Jesus is God, when he was praying wasn’t he just talking to himself?
Yes, and no. Jesus was fully human, and fully God... at the same time. He wasn’t 10% God and 90% human, or vice versa. He was 100% God, and 100% human... at the same time! So when Jesus prayed, his human side was reaching out to God, just like you and me.
And His human side needed prayer as much as you and I need it! Jesus’ humanity was as prone to anger, and grief, and temptation, and pain... as we are.
As you know... we pray the Lord’s Prayer together every Sunday in worship. But the Lord’s Prayer is actually a “model prayer” that Jesus offered his disciples in response to their request, “Lord, teach us to pray...”
Jesus said, pray like this:
1. In our prayers we should honor God: “Our Father, in heaven, holy is your name” - start with honoring God.
2. Then seek God’s Will: “Thy kingdom and will be done” - pray for God’s Will to be accomplished in your life and in this world.
3. Then, ask God’s provision: “Give us today what we need” - It’s okay to pray for what’s needed, for self and others, but “need” implies our prayers shouldn’t be selfish.
4. Next, seek forgiveness: “And forgive us our sins, debts, trespasses... as we forgive the failings of others.” Prayers are pointless if we have a hard heart, and an unforgiving spirit. Again, self-less-ness is honored by God.
5. And finally, ask God’s direction for your life: “And lead us... away from the temptations of the world, as you deliver us from the evil it produces.” Following God’s lead, is the key.
There are other patterns (or models) for prayer: A.C.T.S... P.R.A.Y... or my personal favorite: J.O.Y. (Jesus, Others, Yourself).
Of course, prayer is the most intimate way for us, as followers of Christ, to communicate with God.
Many times when we hear the word “intimacy” we don’t equate it’s secular meaning with God, or being holy.
But one way to define intimacy, especially when it comes to our relationship with Christ, is to articulate the word as “into-me-see” - intimacy - “into-me-see.”
God sees the parts of us no one else can see. He knows the hidden parts. The parts we keep tucked away from the eyes of others. But nothing about us is hidden from God. He sees inside our minds, and souls, and hearts... with full access to what makes you and me who we are.
And because God is intimately acquainted with all our ways... knowing our goings and comings... when we rise up and lie down... he knows our thoughts from afar... prayer becomes the means through which we become intimately acquainted with God!
Prayer is the tool (used by Jesus himself, as an example)... that enables us to be transformed and molded into the image of Christ.
The Apostle Paul though prayer was important enough for us to “pray continually... pray always... pray without ceasing.” Prayer should become such a integral part of our relationship with God that we bring everything to Jesus - making prayers, petitions and thanksgiving... building an ever growing, intimate fellowship with Christ as we mature in faith.
In verse 17 of our Lesson for today, Jesus talks about the importance of sanctification. Sanctification means to be “set apart for sacred use - or - to be made holy.” When you and I, as followers of Christ, pray... and seek God’s Will and Ways for our lives thru prayer, we find ourselves getting closer to God in an intimate, growing, broadening relationship with Christ. In other words, we become more and more like Jesus. We share in his holiness through the ongoing and never-ending process of walking with Christ, every single day of our lives.
Maybe it’s time to ask, are we experiencing an ever growing... maturing relationship with God in Christ? Are we praying for God’s will to be done in this confusing and hostile world?
I’m more convinced than ever, that if the Church would pray... truly pray... that the power of God’s Spirit will lead us and equip us to make this world a different place.
But it starts with us.
Seek a deeper relationship with God through prayer. Spend time with God every day - giving Christ the opportunity to work his grace through you.
That intimacy is our only best hope, to save not only ourselves... but the church... and the world.