Friday, January 14, 2011

The Prayer Life of Jesus

DAY 14

Morning Reading - Genesis 33-35
Evening Reading - Matthew 11

As we read through the gospels, it is easy for us to forget that although Jesus was God incarnate, he was living, in many ways, a very human life, a life lived in relationship with his heavenly Father. Although we are told that Jesus frequently went out early in the morning to pray, we are rarely given a glimpse into the actual prayer life of Jesus, the exception being Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and the lengthy High Priestly Prayer found in the gospel of John.

In today's reading, Jesus prays to his Father and thanks him that he has not revealed "these things" to the wise and intelligent, but to little children (some translations say "infants"). By "these things" Jesus is referring to the message of the kingdom of God that he has come to proclaim and embody through his ministry of teaching and healing. He has just listed several cities that refused to recognize his message even though "deeds of power" had been done in those cities. The message of the kingdom of God was embraced not by those in positions of power and authority, not by the wise and intelligent, but by infants - those who do not rely on their own resources.

Although Jesus previously taught his desciples to address their prayers to God as "Father," this is the first time we hear Jesus address God as his Father. This was breaking new ground within the context of first century Judaism. For an individual to address God in this familial tone was unprecentented. It is important to note that Jesus goes on to address his Father as "Lord of heaven and earth," which is expresses great awe and reverence. The familial tone of "Father" expresses the imminance of "God with us," while the reverential tone of "Lord of heaven and earth" expresses the trancendent power of God over the universe. Consequently, this short prayer gives us some insight into how Jesus understood himself in relation to God as his Father.

Finally, after this brief prayer, Jesus offers an invitation to his followers, which is worth repeating in its entirety: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

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