by Lois Tverberg
It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12
Jesus was a man of prayer. He stayed up all night in prayer, arose early to pray, and taught his disciples to pray. How did people pray in Jesus’ time, and how did he probably pray? Understanding the traditions of prayer in Jesus’ day helps us unlock some of the meaning of Jesus’ teachings on the subject.
For instance, the prayer that Jesus probably prayed before he broke the bread at the Last Supper was probably something like, “Blessed is he who brings forth bread from the earth.” If the very next thing Jesus says is “This is my body, broken for you,” could he be hinting that just as God brings bread from the ground, he will bring Jesus, the Bread of Life out of the ground? It is an interesting thing to ponder. Our understanding of that passage is enriched by knowing the prayers of Jesus’ day.
Jesus also teaches many parables on the importance of prayer – about the persistent widow, and about the prayers of the Pharisee and the tax collector. We can learn much about the mind of Christ on prayer by grasping his teachings as they would have been understood in his time.
We can be especially enriched by understanding the prayer that Jesus taught us. Although we know it by heart, many struggle with some of the phrases like, “thy kingdom come” and “keep us from evil” that may seem foreign to us. Understanding his prayer in the context of the other prayers of his time will help us pray as Jesus intended for us to pray.
This is the rich subject for the Water from the Rock articles for this next month. Of course, we need to be not just hearers of the word but doers as well. These articles will only be worthwhile if they inspire you to a new level of prayer, and a more intimate walk with your Heavenly Father.