When God would win back His prodigal world He sent down a Man. That Man while more than man insisted upon being truly a man. He touched human life at every point. No man seems to have understood prayer, and to have prayed as did He. How can we better conclude these quiet talks on prayer than by gathering about His person and studying His habits of prayer.
A habit is an act repeated so often as to be done involuntarily; that is, without a new decision of the mind each time it is done.
Jesus prayed. He loved to pray. Sometimes praying was His way of resting. He prayed so much and so often that it became a part of His life. It became to Him like breathing--involuntary.
There is no thing we need so much as to learn how to pray. There are two ways of receiving instruction; one, by being told; the other, by watching some one else. The latter is the simpler and the surer way. How better can we learn how to pray than by watching how Jesus prayed, and then trying to imitate Him. Not, just now, studying what He said about prayer, invaluable as that is, and so closely interwoven with the other; nor yet how He received the requests of men when on earth, full of inspiring suggestion as that is of His present attitude towards our prayers; but how He Himself prayed when down here surrounded by our same circumstances and temptations.
There are two sections of the Bible to which we at once turn for light, the gospels and the Psalms. In the gospels is given chiefly the outer side of His prayer-habits; and in certain of the Psalms, glimpses of the inner side are unmistakably revealed.
Turning now to the gospels, we find the picture of the praying Jesus like an etching, a sketch in black and white, the fewest possible strokes of the pen, a scratch here, a line there, frequently a single word added by one writer to the narrative of the others, which gradually bring to view the outline of a lone figure with upturned face.
Of the fifteen mentions of His praying found in the four gospels, it is interesting to note that while Matthew gives three, and Mark and John each four, it is Luke, Paul's companion and mirror-like friend, who, in eleven such allusions, supplies most of the picture.
Does this not contain a strong hint of the explanation of that other etching plainly traceable in the epistles which reveals Paul's own marvellous prayer-life?
Matthew, immersed in the Hebrew Scriptures, writes to the Jews of their promised Davidic King; Mark, with rapid pen, relates the ceaseless activity of this wonderful servant of the Father. John, with imprisoned body, but rare liberty of vision, from the glory-side revealed on Patmos, depicts the Son of God coming on an errand from the Father into the world, and again, leaving the world and going back home unto the Father. But Luke emphasizes the human Jesus, a Man--with reverence let me use a word in its old-fashioned meaning--a fellow, that is, one of ourselves. And the Holy Spirit makes it very plain throughout Luke's narrative that the man Christ Jesus prayed; prayed much; needed to pray; loved to pray.
Oh! when shall we men down here, sent into the world as He was sent into the world, with the same mission, the same field, the same Satan to combat, the same Holy Spirit to empower, find out that power lies in keeping closest connection with the Sender, and completest insulation from the power-absorbing world!
Let me rapidily sketch those fifteen mentions of the gospel writers, attempting to keep their chronological order.
The first mention is by Luke, in chapter three. The first three gospels all tell of Jesus' double baptism, but it is Luke who adds, "and praying." It was while waiting in prayer that He received the gift of the Holy Spirit. He dared not begin His public mission without that anointing. It had been promised in the prophetic writings. And now, standing in the Jordan, He waits and prays until the blue above is burst through by the gleams of glory-light from the upper-side and the dove-like Spirit wings down and abides upon Him. Prayer brings power. Prayer is power. The time of prayer is the time of power. The place of prayer is the place of power. Prayer is tightening the connections with the divine dynamo so that the power may flow freely without loss or interruption.
The second mention is made by Mark in chapter one. Luke, in chapter four, hints at it, "when it was day He came out and went into a desert place." But Mark tells us plainly "in the morning a great while before the day (or a little more literally, 'very early while it was yet very dark') He arose and went out into the desert or solitary place and there prayed." The day before, a Sabbath day spent in His adopted home-town Capernaum, had been a very busy day for Him, teaching in the synagogue service, the interruption by a demon-possessed man, the casting out amid a painful scene; afterwards the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, and then at sun-setting the great crowd of diseased and demonized thronging the narrow street until far into the night, while He, passing amongst them, by personal touch, healed and restored every one. It was a long and exhausting day's work. One of us spending as busy a Sabbath would probably feel that the next morning needed an extra hour's sleep if possible. One must rest surely. But this man Jesus seemed to have another way of resting in addition to sleep. Probably He occupied the guest-chamber in Peter's home. The house was likely astir at the usual hour, and by and by breakfast was ready, but the Master had not appeared yet, so they waited a bit. After a while the maid slips to His room door and taps lightly, but there's no answer; again a little bolder knock, then pushing the door ajar she finds the room unoccupied. Where's the Master? "Ah!" Peter says; "I think I know. I have noticed before this that He has a way of slipping off early in the morning to some quiet place where He can be alone." And a little knot of disciples with Peter in the lead starts out on a search for Him, for already a crowd is gathering at the door and filling the street again, hungry for more. And they "tracked Him down" here and there on the hillsides, among clumps of trees, until suddenly they come upon Him quietly praying with a wondrous calm in His great eyes. Listen to Peter as he eagerly blurts out, "Master, there's a big crowd down there, all asking for you." But the Master's quiet decisive tones reply, "Let us go into the next towns that I may preach there also; for to this end came I forth." Much easier to go back and deal again with the old crowd of yesterday; harder to meet the new crowds with their new skepticism, but there's no doubt about what should be done. Prayer wonderfully clears the vision; steadies the nerves; defines duty; stiffens the purpose; sweetens and strengthens the spirit. The busier the day for Him the more surely must the morning appointment be kept, [Isaiah 50:4, Revised] and even an earlier start made, apparently. The more virtue went forth from Him, the more certainly must He spend time, and even more time, alone with Him who is the source of power.
The third mention is in Luke, chapter five. Not a great while after the scene just described, possibly while on the trip suggested by His answer to Peter, in some one of the numerous Galilean villages, moved with the compassion that ever burned His heart, He had healed a badly diseased leper, who, disregarding His express command, so widely published the fact of His remarkable healing that great crowds blocked Jesus' way in the village and compelled Him to go out to the country district, where the crowds which the village could not hold now throng about Him. Now note what the Master does. The authorized version says, "He withdrew into the wilderness and prayed." A more nearly literal reading would be, "He was retiring in the deserts and praying"; suggesting not a single act, but rather a habit of action running through several days or even weeks. That is, being compelled by the greatness of the crowds to go into the deserts or country, districts, and being constantly thronged there by the people, He had less opportunity to get alone, and yet more need, and so while He patiently continues His work among them He studiously seeks opportunity to retire at intervals from the crowds to pray.
How much His life was like ours. Pressed by duties, by opportunities for service, by the great need around us, we are strongly tempted to give less time to the inner chamber, with door shut. "Surely this work must be done," we think, "though it does crowd and flurry our prayer time some." "No," the Master's practice here says with intense emphasis. Not work first, and prayer to bless it. But the first place given to prayer and then the service growing out of such prayer will be charged with unmeasured power. The greater the outer pressure on His closet-life, the more jealously He guarded against either a shortening of its time or a flurrying of its spirit. The tighter the tension, the more time must there be for unhurried prayer.
The fourth mention is found in Luke, chapter six. "It came to pass in these days that He went out into the mountains to pray, and He continued all night in prayer to God." The time is probably about the middle of the second year of His public ministry. He had been having very exasperating experiences with the national leaders from Judea who dogged His steps, criticising and nagging at every turn, sowing seeds of skepticism among His simple-minded, intense-spirited Galileans. It was also the day before He selected the twelve men who were to be the leaders after His departure, and preached the mountain sermon. Luke does not say that He planned to spend the entire night in prayer. Wearied in spirit by the ceaseless petty picking and Satanic hatred of His enemies, thinking of the serious work of the morrow, there was just one thing for Him to do. He knew where to find rest, and sweet fellowship, and a calming presence, and wise counsel. Turning His face northward He sought the solitude of the mountain not far off for quiet meditation and prayer. And as He prayed and listened and talked without words, daylight gradually grew into twilight, and that yielded imperceptibly to the brilliant Oriental stars spraying down their lustrous fire-light. And still He prayed, while the darkness below and the blue above deepened, and the stilling calm of God wrapped all nature around, and hushed His heart into a deeper peace. In the fascination of the Father's loving presence He was utterly lost to the flight of time, but prayed on and on until, by and by, the earth had once more completed its daily turn, the gray streaks of dawnlight crept up the east, and the face of Palestine, fragrant with the deep dews of an eastern night, was kissed by a sun of a new day. And then, "when it was day"--how quietly the narrative goes on--"He called the disciples and chose from them twelve,--and a great multitude of disciples and of the people came,--and He healed all--and He opened His mouth and taught them--for power came forth from Him." Is it any wonder, after such a night! If all our exasperations and embarrassments were followed, and all our decisions and utterances preceded, by unhurried prayer, what power would come forth from us, too. Because as He is even so are we in this world.
The fifth mention is made by Matthew, chapter fourteen, and Mark, chapter six, John hinting at it in chapter six of his gospel. It was about the time of the third passover, the beginning of His last year of service. Both He and the disciples had been kept exceedingly busy with the great throng coming and going incessantly. The startling news had just come of the tragic death of His forerunner. There was need of bodily rest, as well as of quiet to think over the rapidly culminating opposition. So taking boat they headed towards the eastern shore of the lake. But the eager crowds watched the direction taken and spreading the news, literally "ran" around the head of the lake and "out-went them," and when He stepped from the boat for the much-needed rest there was an immense company, numbering thousands, waiting for Him. Did some feeling of impatience break out among the disciples that they could not be allowed a little leisure? Very likely, for they were so much like us. But He was "moved with compassion" and, wearied though He was, patiently spent the entire day in teaching, and then, at eventime when the disciples proposed sending them away for food, He, with a handful of loaves and fishes, satisfied the bodily cravings of as many as five thousand.
There is nothing that has so appealed to the masses in all countries and all centuries as ability to furnish plenty to eat. Literally tens of thousands of the human race fall asleep every night hungry. So here. At once it is proposed by a great popular uprising, under the leadership of this wonderful man as king, to throw off the oppressive Roman yoke. Certainly if only His consent could be had it would be immensely successful, they thought. Does this not rank with Satan's suggestion in the wilderness, and with the later possibility coming through the visit of the Greek deputation, of establishing the kingdom without suffering? It was a temptation, even though it found no response within Him. With the over-awing power of His presence so markedly felt at times He quieted the movement, "constrained" the disciples to go by boat before Him to the other side while He dismissed the throng. "And after He had taken leave of them"--what gentle courtesy and tenderness mingled with His irrevocable decision--"He went up in the mountain to pray," and "continued in prayer" until the morning watch. A second night spent in prayer! Bodily weary, His spirit startled by an event which vividly foreshadowed His own approaching violent death, and now this vigorous renewal of His old temptation, again He had recourse to His one unfailing habit of getting off alone to pray. Time alone to pray; more time to pray, was His one invariable offset to all difficulties, all temptations, and all needs. How much more there must have been in prayer as He understood and practiced it than many of His disciples to-day know.
We shall perhaps understand better some of the remaining prayer incidents if we remember that Jesus is now in the last year of His ministry, the acute state of His experiences with the national leaders preceding the final break. The awful shadow of the cross grows deeper and darker across His path. The hatred of the opposition leader gets constantly intenser. The conditions of discipleship are more sharply put. The inability of the crowds, of the disciples, and others to understand Him grows more marked. Many followers go back. He seeks to get more time for intercourse with the twelve. He makes frequent trips to distant points on the border of the outside, non-Jewish world. The coming scenes and experiences--the scene on the little hillock outside the Jerusalem wall--seem never absent from His thoughts.
The sixth mention is made by Luke, chapter nine. They are up north in the neighbourhood of the Roman city of Cesarea Philippi. "And it came to pass as He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him." Alone, so far as the multitudes are concerned, but seeming to be drawing these twelve nearer to His inner life. Some of these later incidents seem to suggest that he was trying to woo them into something of the same love for the fascination of secret prayer that He had. How much they would need to pray in the coming years when He was gone. Possibly, too, He yearned for a closer fellowship with them. He loved human fellowship, as Peter and James and John, and Mary and Martha and many other gentle women well knew. And there is no fellowship among men to be compared with fellowship in prayer.
"There is a place where spirits blend,
Where friend holds fellowship with friend,
A place than all beside more sweet,
It is the blood-bought mercy-seat."
The seventh mention is in this same ninth chapter of Luke, and records a third night of prayer. Matthew and Mark also tell of the transfiguration scene, but it is Luke who explains that He went up into the mountain to pray, and that it was as He was praying that the fashion of His countenance was altered. Without stopping to study the purpose of this marvelous manifestation of His divine glory to the chosen three at a time when desertion and hatred were so marked, it is enough now to note the significant fact that it was while He was praying that the wondrous change came. Transfigured while praying! And by His side stood one who centuries before on the earth had spent so much time alone with God that the glory-light of that presence transfigured his face, though he was unconscious of it. A shining face caused by contact with God! Shall not we, to whom the Master has said, "follow Me," get alone with Him and His blessed Word, so habitually, with open or uncovered face, that is, with eyesight unhindered by prejudice or self-seeking, that mirroring the glory of His face we shall more and more come to bear His very likeness upon our faces? [2 Cor. 3:18]
"And the face shines bright
With a glow of light
From His presence sent
Whom she loves to meet.
"Yes, the face beams bright
With an inner light
As by day so by night,
In shade as in shine,
With a beauty fine,
That she wist not of,
From some source within.
"Still the face shines bright
With the glory-light
From the mountain height.
Where the resplendent sight
Of His face
Fills her view
And illumines in turn
First the few,
Then the wide race."
The eighth mention is in the tenth chapter of Luke. He had organized a band of men, sending them out in two's into the places he expected to visit. They had returned with a joyful report of the power attending their work; and standing in their midst, His own heart overflowing with joy, He looked up and, as though the Father's face was visible, spake out to Him the gladness of His heart. He seemed to be always conscious of His Father's presence, and the most natural thing was to speak to Him. They were always within speaking distance of each other, and always on speaking terms.
The ninth mention is in the eleventh chapter of Luke, very similar to the sixth mention, "It came to pass as He was praying in a certain place that when He ceased one of His disciples said unto Him, 'Lord, teach us to pray.'" Without doubt these disciples were praying men. He had already talked to them a great deal about prayer. But as they noticed how large a place prayer had in His life, and some of the marvellous results, the fact came home to them with great force that there must be some fascination, some power, some secret in prayer, of which they were ignorant. This Man was a master in the fine art of prayer. They really did not know how to pray, they thought. How their request must have delighted Him! At last they were being aroused concerning the great secret of power. May it be that this simple recital of His habits of prayer may move every one of us to get alone with Him and make the same earnest request. For the first step in learning to pray is to pray,--"Lord, teach me to pray." And who can teach like Him?
The tenth mention is found in John, chapter eleven, and is the second of the four instances of ejaculatory prayer. A large company is gathered outside the village of Bethany, around a tomb in which four days before the body of a young man had been laid away. There is Mary, still weeping, and Martha, always keenly alive to the proprieties, trying to be more composed, and their personal friends, and the villagers, and the company of acquaintances and others from Jerusalem. At His word, after some hesitation, the stone at the mouth of the tomb is rolled aside. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me; and I knew that Thou hearest Me always; but because of the multitude that standeth around I said it that they may believe that Thou didst send Me!" Clearly before coming to the tomb He had been praying in secret about the raising of Lazarus, and what followed was in answer to His prayer. How plain it becomes that all the marvellous power displayed in His brief earthly career came through prayer. What inseparable intimacy between His life of activity at which the multitude then and ever since has marveled, and His hidden closet-life of which only these passing glimpses are obtained. Surely the greatest power entrusted to man is prayer-power. But how many of us are untrue to the trust, while this strangely omnipotent power put into our hands lies so largely unused.
Note also the certainty of His faith in the Hearer of prayer: "I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me." There was nothing that could be seen to warrant such faith. There lay the dead body. But He trusted as seeing Him who is invisible. Faith is blind, except upward. It is blind to impossibilities and deaf to doubt. It listens only to God and sees only His power and acts accordingly. Faith is not believing that He can but that He will. But such faith comes only of close continuous contact with God. Its birthplace is in the secret closet; and time and the open Word, and an awakened ear and a reverent quiet heart are necessary to its growth.
The eleventh mention is found in the twelfth chapter of John. Two or three days before the fated Friday some Greek visitors to the Jewish feast of Passover sought an interview with Him. The request seemed to bring to His mind a vision of the great outside world, after which His heart yearned, coming to Him so hungry for what only He could give. And instantly athwart that vision like an ink-black shadow came the other vision, never absent now from His waking thoughts, of the cross so awfully near. Shrinking in horror from the second vision, yet knowing that only through its realization could be realized the first,--seemingly forgetful for the moment of the by-standers, as though soliloquizing, He speaks--"now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Shall I say, Father save Me from this hour? But for this cause came I unto this hour: this is what I will say (and the intense conflict of soul merges into the complete victory of a wholly surrendered will) Father, glorify Thy name." Quick as the prayer was uttered, came the audible voice out of heaven answering, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again." How near heaven must be! How quickly the Father hears! He must be bending over, intently listening, eager to catch even faintly whispered prayer. Their ears, full of earth-sounds, unaccustomed to listening to a heavenly voice, could hear nothing intelligible. He had a trained ear. Isaiah 50:4 revised (a passage plainly prophetic of Him), suggests how it was that He could understand this voice so easily and quickly. "He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as they that are taught." A taught ear is as necessary to prayer as a taught tongue, and the daily morning appointment with God seems essential to both.
The twelfth mention is made by Luke, chapter twenty-two. It is Thursday night of Passion week, in the large upper room in Jerusalem where He is celebrating the old Passover feast, and initiating the new memorial feast. But even that hallowed hour is disturbed by the disciples' self-seeking disputes. With the great patience of great love He gives them the wonderful example of humility of which John thirteen tells, speaking gently of what it meant, and then turning to Peter, and using his old name, He says, "Simon, Simon, behold Satan asked to have you that he might sift you as wheat, but I made supplication for thee that thy faith fail not." He had been praying for Peter by name! That was one of His prayer-habits, praying for others. And He has not broken off that blessed habit yet. He is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near to God through Him seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. His occupation now seated at His Father's right hand in glory is praying for each of us who trust Him. By name? Why not?
The thirteenth mention is the familiar one in John, chapter seventeen, and cannot be studied within these narrow limits, but merely fitted into Us order. The twelfth chapter contains His last words to the world. In the thirteenth and through to the close of this seventeenth He is alone with His disciples. If this prayer is read carefully in the revised version it will be seen that its standpoint is that of one who thinks of His work down in the world as already done (though the chief scene is yet to come) and the world left behind, and now He is about re-entering His Father's presence to be re-instated in glory there. It is really, therefore, a sort of specimen of the praying for us in which He is now engaged, and so is commonly called the intercessory or high-priestly prayer. For thirty years He lived a perfect life. For three and a half years He was a prophet speaking to men for God. For nineteen centuries He has been high priest speaking to God for men. When He returns it will be as King to reign over men for God.
The fourteenth mention brings us within the sadly sacred precincts of Gethsemane garden, one of His favourite prayer-spots, where He frequently went while in Jerusalem. The record is found in Matthew twenty-six, Mark fourteen, and Luke twenty-one. Let us approach with hearts hushed and heads bared and bowed, for this is indeed hallowed ground. It is a little later on that same Thursday night, into which so much has already been pressed and so much more is yet to come. After the talk in the upper room, and the simple wondrous prayer, He leads the little band out of the city gate on the east across the swift, muddy Kidron into the inclosed grove of olive trees beyond. There would be no sleep for Him that night. Within an hour or two the Roman soldiers and the Jewish mob, led by the traitor, will be there searching for Him, and He meant to spend the intervening time in prayer. With the longing for sympathy so marked during these latter months, He takes Peter and James and John and goes farther into the deeply-shadowed grove. But now some invisible power tears him away and plunges Him alone still farther into the moonlit recesses of the garden; and there a strange, awful struggle of soul ensues. It seems like a renewal of the same conflict He experienced in John twelve when the Greeks came, but immeasurably intenser. He who in Himself knew no sin was now beginning to realize in His spirit what within a few hours He realized actually, that He was in very deed to be made sin for us. And the awful realization comes in upon Him with such terrific intensity that it seems as though His physical frame cannot endure the strain of mental agony. The actual experience of the next day produced such mental agony that His physical strength gave way. For He died not of His physical suffering, excruciating as that was, but literally of a broken heart, its walls burst asunder by the strain of soul. It is not possible for a sinning soul to appreciate with what nightmare dread and horror the sinless soul of Jesus must have approached the coming contact with the sin of a world. With bated breath and reverent gaze one follows that lonely figure among the trees; now kneeling, now falling upon His face, lying prostrate, "He prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass away from Him." One snatch of that prayer reaches our ears: "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee--if it be possible let this cup pass away from Me; nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt." How long He remained so in prayer we do not know, but so great was the tension of spirit that a messenger from heaven appeared and strengthened Him. Even after that "being in an agony He prayed more earnestly (literally, more stretched out, more strainedly) and His sweat became as it were great clots of blood falling down upon the ground." When at length He arises from that season of conflict and prayer, the victory seems to be won, and something of the old-time calm reasserts itself. He goes to the sleeping disciples, and mindful of their coming temptation, admonishes them to pray; then returns to the lonely solitude again for more prayer, but the change in the form of prayer tells of the triumph of soul, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away except I drink it, Thy will be done." The victory is complete. The crisis is past. He yields Himself to that dreaded experience through which alone the Father's loving plan for a dying world can be accomplished. Again He returns to the poor, weak disciples, and back again for another bit of strengthening communion, and then the flickering glare of torches in the distance tells Him that "the hour is come." With steady step and a marvellous peace lighting His face He goes out to meet His enemies. He overcame in this greatest crisis of His life by prayer.
The fifteenth mention is the final one. Of the seven sentences which He spake upon the cross, three were prayers. Luke tells us that while the soldiers were driving the nails through His hands and feet and lifting the cross into place, He, thinking even then not of self, but of others, said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."
It was as the time of the daily evening sacrifice drew on, near the close of that strange darkness which overcast all nature, after a silence of three hours, that He loudly sobbed out the piercing, heart-rending cry, "My God, My God, why didst Thou forsake Me?" A little later the triumphant shout proclaimed His work done, and then the very last word was a prayer quietly breathed out, as He yielded up His life, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." And so His expiring breath was vocalized into prayer.
It may be helpful to make the following summary of these allusions.
1. His times of prayer: His regular habit seems plainly to have been to devote the early morning hour to communion with His Father, and to depend upon that for constant guidance and instruction. This is suggested especially by Mark 1:35; and also by Isaiah 50:4-6 coupled with John 7:16 l.c., 8:28, and 12:49.
In addition to this regular appointment, He sought other opportunities for secret prayer as special need arose; late at night after others had retired; three times He remained in prayer all the night; and at irregular intervals between times. Note that it was usually a quiet time when the noises of earth were hushed. He spent special time in prayer before important events and also afterwards. (See mentions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 and 14.)
2. His places of prayer: He who said, "Enter into thine inner chamber and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret," Himself had no fixed inner chamber, during His public career, to make easier the habitual retirement for prayer. Homeless for the three and a half years of ceaseless traveling, His place of prayer was a desert place, "the deserts," "the mountains," "a solitary place." He loved nature. The hilltop back of Nazareth village, the slopes of Olivet, the hillsides overlooking the Galilean lake, were His favourite places. Note that it was always a quiet place, shut away from the discordant sounds of earth.
3. _His constant spirit of prayer: He was never out of the spirit of prayer. He could be alone in a dense crowd. It has been said that there are sorts of solitude, namely, of time, as early morning, or late at night; solitude of place, as a hilltop, or forest, or a secluded room; and solitude of spirit, as when one surrounded by a crowd may watch them unmoved, or to be lost to all around in his own inner thought. Jesus used all three sorts of solitude for talking with His Father. (See mentions 8, 10, 11 and 15.)
4. He prayed in the great crises of His life: Five such are mentioned: Before the awful battle royal with Satan in the Quarantanian wilderness at the outset; before choosing the twelve leaders of the new movement; at the time of the Galilean uprising; before the final departure from Galilee for Judea and Jerusalem; and in Gethsemane, the greatest crisis of all. (See mentions 1, 4, 5, 7 and 14.)
5. He prayed for others by name, and still does. (See mention 13.)
6. He prayed with others: A habit that might well be more widely copied. A few minutes spent in quiet prayer by friends or fellow-workers before parting wonderfully sweetens the spirit, and cements friendships, and makes difficulties less difficult, and hard problems easier of solution. (See mentions 7, 9 and 13.)
7. The greatest blessings of His life came during prayer: Six incidents are noted: while praying, the Holy Spirit came upon Him; He was transfigured; three times a heavenly voice of approval came; and in His hour of sorest distress in the garden a heavenly messenger came to strengthen Him. (See mentions 1, 7, 11 and 14.)
How much prayer meant to Jesus! It was not only His regular habit, but His resort in every emergency, however slight or serious. When perplexed He prayed. When hard pressed by work He prayed. When hungry for fellowship He found it in prayer. He chose His associates and received His messages upon His knees. If tempted, He prayed. If criticised, He prayed. If fatigued in body or wearied in spirit, He had recourse to His one unfailing habit of prayer. Prayer brought Him unmeasured power at the beginning, and kept the flow unbroken and undiminished. There was no emergency, no difficulty, no necessity, no temptation that would not yield to prayer, as He practiced it. Shall not we, who have been tracing these steps in His prayer life, go back over them again and again until we breathe in His very spirit of prayer? And shall we not, too, ask Him daily to teach us how to pray, and then plan to get alone with Him regularly that He may have opportunity to teach us, and we the opportunity to practice His teaching?
This entire series on prayer is found on the bottom of Christian Life.