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The Word For Today

When Jesus prayed 4

'Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you.' Luke 22:31-32 NIV

Jesus prayed when he was concerned about the people he loved. He told Peter: 'Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you...that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers' (Luke 22:31-31 NIV). And Peter did turn back. The disciple who denied his Lord in a moment of weakness eventually stood before a crowd of thousands and preached the Gospel to them, and three thousand were won to Christ.

Jesus not only taught his disciples, he warned them of danger. But ultimately he realised that the greatest thing he could do was pray for them. Unfortunately, that's a truth we tend to arrive at later rather than sooner. We promise, we rescue, we threaten, and only when all our other efforts have failed do we pray. Prayer shouldn't be your last resort, it should be your first response. Prayer takes the situation out of your hands and puts it into God's.

Do you remember the four men who carried their sick friend and laid him at the feet of Jesus? (See Mark 2:3-5). That's what you do when you pray for someone. It's not easy to pick up the weight of another person and carry them to God each day in prayer. But it's the most effective thing you can do for them. The old-timers used to say, 'Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.' And they were right! When a loved one disappoints or wounds you, instead of lashing out, lift them up in prayer. Invite God into the situation, then stand back and allow him to work.

Soulfood: 1 Sam 8-10, Matt 22:15-22, Ps 95, Prov 16:31-33


When Jesus prayed 3

'He departed to the mountain to pray.' Mark 6:46 NKJV

Let's look at another point at which Jesus prayed: when the pressures and expectations of others threatened to derail God's plan for his life. The Bible says: 'While it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!" Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else - to the nearby villages - so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching' (Mark 1:35-39 NIV).

The lesson here is this: Unless you get God's plan and stick with it, others will try to plan your life for you. Given the success Jesus enjoyed in every town he visited, many preachers would have stayed and built a church and enjoyed the accolades and rewards of their ministry. Not Jesus; he marched to the beat of a different drum.

As you look back on some of your mistakes, you find decisions made in response to pressure instead of prayer. When you're prayerless you get careless. God has a plan for your life, and a schedule. To stay in sync with both you must pray regularly. Jesus realised he had only enough time to do what his Father wanted done, and that gave him the ability to say no to other things. You've been called to love people - but please God. And your confidence in prayer comes from knowing you're operating within his will (see 1 John 3:21-22 NIV).

Soulfood: 1 Sam 4-7, Matt 22:1-14, Ps 64, Prov 16:26-30


When Jesus prayed 2

'He a solitary place; and...prayed.' Mark 1:35 NKJV

By failing to pray - you set yourself up to fail. The reason Jesus never failed is because he never failed to pray. Note the times when he prayed: when his heart was heavy. During his ministry on earth, his cousin John the Baptist was arrested and publicly beheaded for confronting a king about his sin. 'When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew...privately to a solitary place' (Matthew 14:13 NIV). Disappointment, desertion, divorce and death will write their chapters in the book of our lives. Thank God for therapists and doctors, but ultimately there's no one who can heal a broken heart like God. 'He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power' (Psalm 147:3-5 NIV).

Whether placing stars or healing scars, no situation is too big or too small to get the attention of our loving God. To understand God's healing expertise, look at the life of Job. Possibly no one in history lost more than Job did, yet God brought him through it all. In Job chapter 11 we read: 'You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away. Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning. Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety. You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help' (Job 11:16-19 NLT).

Are you sad and heavy-hearted today? Do what Jesus did. Take time to pray about it.

Soulfood: 1 Sam 1-3, Matt 21:33-46, Ps 59:9-17, Prov 16:23-26

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