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It’s not an activity. Nor a chore. Prayer is a way of life. Here’s how you can move beyond rituals and discover new intimacy with Jesus. Henry and Norman Blackaby’s thorough study of Jesus’ prayer life reveals astounding truths about God’s intent for prayer. By the time you turn the last page of this 2006 National Day of Prayer book, your old notions will be replaced by the reality of Jesus’ example. You’ll experience the power of heaven and earth ...
It’s not an activity. Nor a chore. Prayer is a way of life. Here’s how you can move beyond rituals and discover new intimacy with Jesus. Henry and Norman Blackaby’s thorough study of Jesus’ prayer life reveals astounding truths about God’s intent for prayer. By the time you turn the last page of this 2006 National Day of Prayer book, your old notions will be replaced by the reality of Jesus’ example. You’ll experience the power of heaven and earth being joined together as the King of all creation lays His heart over yours. Your will becomes aligned with His. Discover freedom from methods and formulas, the beauty of a gentle step-by-step reformation process, and let God unfold His mighty purposes for you.
“in the days of His flesh,
when He had offered up prayers and supplications,
with vehement cries and tears…
was heard because of His godly fear.”
The One who loved you to His death continues to pursue you.
He will humbly lay His heart over yours. Heaven and earth will agree. The supernatural will powerfully unfold. And you will be changed forever.
Story Behind the Book
Jesus’ ministry was marked by a life of prayer. Even more, Jesus is the pattern and definition of prayer. Who better for America to pray with on the National Day of Prayer than Him? And who better than father-son team Henry and Norman Blackaby to unveil such a message? In classic Blackaby style, they reveal how Jesus’ example can become our way of life. When prayer is genuine, life change is real. Look out, America. Prayer is changing our country like nothing ever has…or will!
The twelve disciples whom Jesus chose were no doubt men who prayed. They had been raised in a culture that valued and practiced prayer, and each of their hearts must have been prayerfully tender toward God for each man to leave everything and follow after Jesus when He extended His call to them.
And yet, as the disciples went on to closely observe Jesus, they consistently noticed a stark difference between their way of praying and the prayer life of the Lord.
In the presence of these twelve men, Jesus both taught and modeled a radical life of prayer, and it caught their attention. We see this, for example, in Luke 11:1. Jesus "was praying in a certain place," and when He finished, "one of His disciples said to Him, 'Lord, teach us to pray.'" They wanted something better than they already had; they wanted the same reality and vitality of prayer that Jesus experienced.
So He taught them. And everything He taught, He also lived out before them.
AT THE CENTER OF HIS LIFE
Jesus urged these disciples to always pray and never lose heart (Luke 18:1), to "cry out day and night" to God (18:7), and to keep asking and seeking and knocking with confident assurance ofthe Father's loving heart (Matthew 7:7-11). Hearing Jesus say these things, the Twelve could not forget that even while He ministered to "great multitudes" through continual preaching and healing, "He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed" (Luke 5:16). They had witnessed how the Lord rose "a long while before daylight" and "went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed" (Mark 1:35). They knew their Master as One who "went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12).
The conclusion was inescapable: Jesus' prayer life was the key to both His life and ministry.
Throughout the scriptural record of the ministry of our Lord, it's clear that prayer is one of the most marked characteristics of His life. At each major juncture, at every key decision point, we find Him in prayer.
It was true in the very beginning: At the time of His baptism, it was "while He prayed" that "heaven was opened" and the Holy Spirit came down upon Him like a dove while the Father audibly assured Him, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased" (Luke 3:21-22).
And it was true as well at the end, as Jesus continued praying on the cross (Matthew 27:46; Luke 23:34,46).
Every part of our Lord's life was centered and guided by His continuing communication with the Father.
IN CHRIST'S HUMANITY
So often, as we read about Jesus, we fail to make the connection between His example and our own experience. From God's perspective, however, the characteristics of His Son's prayer life are to be true for every believer and every church.
We easily dismiss that fact. We tell ourselves, "Jesus was the Son of God; of course His prayer life was outstanding. But I'm only human; I can't be expected to pray as Christ prayed."
There are plenty of Scriptures to counter that argument, and one of them is a profound passage we'll refer to often in this book as we explore it phrase by phrase. For catching the heart of Christ's prayer life in relation to the Father, we know of no passage better than Hebrews 5:7-9, which describes the intense manner and momentous results of the prayers Jesus offered. These verses pull together the entire prayer life of Jesus into a single, powerful statement for our instruction. It teaches us the essence of prayer, so we can more fully experience the intimate fellowship with the heavenly Father that Jesus knew.
We want to draw your attention first to the significant phrase that introduces this passage: "in the days of His flesh." This expression emphasizes the human nature Christ embraced during His earthly ministry. That word flesh identifies Jesus with you and me; we have a Savior who can identify with us because of the human form that He assumed as He emptied Himself of His divine privileges and came to earth as a man (Philippians 2:7-8). As we study His prayer life, we're seeing Jesus in His humanity praying to the Father, just as we pray to Him in our own humanity.
A few verses earlier in Hebrews we read how Jesus, as our High Priest, can "sympathize with our weaknesses" because He "was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). Whatever weaknesses, failings, and weariness we've ever experienced in our prayer life, Christ understands! He was tempted in His prayer life as well, and He knows how to help us faithfully resist those temptations in the same way He successfully resisted them.
SETTING OUR HEARTS
Our passage in Hebrews goes on to tell us that "in the days of His flesh," Jesus "offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears...." (Hebrews 5:7). The Amplified Bible words it this way: "In the days of His flesh [Jesus] offered up definite, special petitions [for that which He not only wanted but needed] and supplications with strong crying and tears."
The clear emphasis is that the Son of God actively and consistently prayed! And He did so with various kinds of prayer and supplication (strong entreaty and pleading) to His Father.
In the days of His flesh, Jesus understood the seriousness of communicating with His heavenly Father. In the days of His flesh, He chose not to allow anything to discontinue or hamper that fellowship.
What can be said of your life-in the days of your flesh? Have you come to understand the importance of maintaining communication with God above everything else? What things have you let distract you from daily communication with the Father?
If Jesus was convinced that His own life and ministry depended upon His prayer life with the Father, we as well must set our hearts to maintain uninterrupted time in prayer with our Lord, for this is the key not only to our ministry but to our very life as God intends it.
And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.
From Norman: Early Morning Habit
Watching my parents over the years, I would definitely characterize them as people of prayer. If you asked any of the five children in our family what our dad was doing in the early morning hours, each one would answer, "He's praying and studying his Bible."
To this day when I visit their home, I know that no matter how early I get up in the morning, my father will already be in prayer and the Scriptures in his office.
One night last year our daughter became very ill. Some time after midnight we decided to take her to the hospital, where it was determined that she needed to have an IV put in. Our daughter is very afraid of needles and we knew this would scare her. We immediately wanted to telephone Mom and Dad and ask for their prayers.
By then it was about three o'clock in the morning, and about five o'clock where my parents live. We called them-and they were already awake and ready to pray, just as I expected.
It was such a comfort to me to know I could call at such an early hour and know they would be praying as we walked through a difficult sickness with our daughter.
Being in agony, He prayed more earnestly.
Luke 22: 44
Excerpted from EXPERIENCING PRAYER with JESUS by HENRY BLACKABY NORMAN BLACKABY Copyright © 2006 by Henry T. Blackaby and Norman C. Blackaby . Excerpted by permission.
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