Learning from the Master, Part 2a

This article is the second in a series on the Prayer Life of Jesus. In the first article, we examined the elements of His earthly prayer life as described in Hebrews 5:7-10. Here we turn to the first of two significant Scriptural examples that graphically illustrate the important place that prayer occupied in the carrying out of His earthly assignment. 

Why did Jesus pray? Was He not divine? Did He not know the Father’s will for Him from the very beginning of His life? 

Those are questions that naturally arise as we examine the prayer life of Jesus. The truth is that there are no easy answers. Because we are finite creatures, we can never fully understand those things we encounter as infinite. We cannot understand the Trinity (how can three be one, and one three?) We do not grasp what Paul means as he writes in Philippians 2 that Christ “made himself nothing” (or “emptied himself,” as the King James Version says) in order to leave heaven for earth and take on Himself the form of a human servant.

How much emptying did He do? 

In the same way, we cannot know how much Jesus, in His earthly journey, knew of His own nature. He seemed to know, from his childhood, that He was on mission for God (“I must be about my Father’s business” [Luke 2:49], age 12). More than once, He predicted His own impending death (Mark 8:31, 10:33; Luke 18:31-33) with clear description of the what, the how and the why. What did He not know? 

While these are perplexing, if significant, theological questions, we must rely on the evidence of Scripture to guide us through those deep waters where there is much we cannot know for certain. And what we can discover in Scripture is that Jesus prayed. If there is a single dominant characteristic of His life, it is that He prayed. Prayer was the indispensable fact of His relationship with His heavenly Father.

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