Thoughts on Holy Week: Prayers of Jesus

Jesus prayingThe Bible records several different occasions on which Jesus prayed. He taught the disciples to pray, though the Lord’s Prayer is something of a misnomer; we should rightly call that the Model Prayer or even the Disciples Prayer. Jesus always spent extra time in prayer before a big event, sometimes praying all night. He regularly went out alone very early each morning to pray, and even though he had some harsh words regarding public prayer we have a few of his prayers recorded, including the High Priestly Prayer of John 17. But every year at this time there is always one in particular I come back to.

Early in his ministry Jesus told his followers not to hate their enemies but rather to pray for them. Jesus led by example, and never asked his followers to do anything he was not willing to do himself. As Jesus was hung on the cross he prayed for the very people crucifying him. He was scourged, nailed to the cross, and mocked by the leaders of the Jewish faith as he died a slow and painful death. And among his final words was a prayer for the people killing him; “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Paul exhorts fellow believers in Philippians 2 to have the same mind that Christ had. Humility is one thing, washing feet is one thing, but to have the same mind, to think about others and act toward them the same way as Jesus; is such a thing even possible? Like many aspects of the Christian life if we look inside of ourselves and rely on our strength and ability then the answer is no. But if we are willing it falls under the category of things the Holy Spirit can work in us and through us. Consider the stoning of Stephen recorded in Acts 7:

And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:59-60 ESV)

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