Today is day thirty of ninety days of reading through the New Testament. Congratulations to you, dear reader, for finishing one-third of this challenge today! Our reading today takes us from John 16 through John 18.
When we pray, we come to God. We approach God. We stand in his presence. And today is especially for you, if your prayers have grown cold.
Too much is written about prayer, I think. Too many lessons and manuals and such. We treat it as some mystical idea, as something that requires a great degree of teaching.
And yet, we all know someone who is relentless in their praying. They speak to God all of the time. They speak to God with forceful demands. And they learned by doing it. We want to pray like that.
But we also know people on the opposite end of this scale, who feel so confident in their relationship that they spend little time in prayer, because they just believe God knows what they need. I hurt for those people. Even though they are good people, they miss the point. Prayer is an opportunity to stand next to God. And to not pray is to essentially pass on this unbelievable opportunity.
Jesus’ prayer in John 17, gives us the sense that there is something deeply moving about speaking with God. And it’s something to not be overlooked.
Because as Jesus prays, he comes closer to God. That is what happens in prayer.
Look, first, in the Old Testament, at the Psalms of Ascents, which are Psalms 120-134. These fifteen praises and prayers were spoken on each of the fifteen steps of the Jewish temple. Every step taken was one step closer to the presence of God. And every step had its own prayer. They are prayers of hope, because coming to God is the most hopeful experience for all of us.
Jesus, in the garden, in the very lengthy prayer of John 17, does something very similar. And, in teaching us how to speak to God, he does so by coming to God — by walking toward God. It’s a process. Watch how this happens.
In 17:1, the prayer begins with Jesus looking toward heaven. He turns his eyes to God.
Jesus is on his way to God, as he speaks to God.
At the end of this prayer, in 17:24-26, Jesus speaks with authority. He is now with God. “I want those you have given me to be where I am” (17:24).
Obviously, there are great and masterful things Jesus says in this prayer. And this prayer is followed by Jesus’ arrest, and the back-and-forth style of story-telling John loves to use.
But today, it was this that moved me. It was this act of prayer that spoke to me.
Crisis moments send us into this kind of prayer. We speak deeply, and, our conversations with God move us to God. We walk this path, this road, to God, that gives us audience with him, so much so that we begin to speak with God’s authority as we pray.
Find no disrespect there. We’ve all made demands of God. We’ve all spoken for him.
And that’s okay. Prayer is this journey of ascending to companionship with God. It’s not some great mystery.
This is how the Word speaks to God. This mobile, on-the-move Word, today, comes to God. He has been everywhere, with everyone. And now he comes to God.
As I finished this post, it was this band that I heard, probably because their name: Ascend the Hill. Here’s their cover of “Hallelujah, What a Savior.” Hope it blesses you today.