The Discipleship Prayer

When you survey the four gospels, the two biggest prayers that stand out are the “Lord’s Prayer” and Jesus’s High Priestly Prayer of John 17. I actually grew up, in my teen years, in a church where my father was one of the teaching elders and I heard quite a few sermons from him as well as other teaching elders. One of the primary teachings about prayer that was impressed upon me during those years was that Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount prayer should not actually be called the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer, if one were to give it that specific designation, would actually be the Priestly Prayer, as recorded probably most fully in John, chapter 17.

I now have adopted a dual view of what has been called the Lord’s Prayer. I more fully see the value of the prayer in Matthew as representing the approach to prayer which disciples who are seeking (however imperfectly!) to follow their Master and Lord ought to take in their prayer’s lives. They are still attached to the world in many respects, but they recognize the Light in Jesus Christ and that He is the fulfilling (Messianic) One. The “Lord’s Prayer” may not be the most accurate description of this teaching instruction on how Christ taught the first disciples to pray. It might be better termed, the “Discipleship Prayer.”

On the other hand, the Priestly Prayer of John 17 is like stepping into the prayer lives of the very Godhead. Wow! I would say that it is almost like “eavesdropping.” While I would not say that I could never pray in a similar fashion to that prayer, I do believe that there is something sacred and hallowed about that prayer that can never be represented in a human prayer. God’s way are not our ways (Isa. 55:8-9).[1]  Yes, it would be amazing if believers should be able, by grace, to resolve their many differences (sometimes fairly superficial along denominational lines – other times over more fundamental doctrines) and come into full unity as Jesus the Son, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit are one. After asking that His disciples be empowered to reflect the brightness of His evangelical light and petitioning the Father for their protection, He continues on: “I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (Jn. 17:23; NRSV).

On this side of heaven, we do struggle with our differences. Hopefully, the majority of Christians can agree on fundamental issues, such as the deity of Christ, and be able to identify cult and non-Christian groups who would deny such a truth, and reach out to them in Christian love.

But the Discipleship Prayer of Matthew 6:9-13 represents the human element for seekers of the Master. It has the flip side of the prayer of John 17. In my prayer life, while it would be nice to aspire to the John 17 prayer, I still feel as though I’m eavesdropping on Jesus’s personal communication with the Father before His moment of truth. He speaks to the Father as none of us ever could. It’s not that we don’t have intimacy with the Father through the Son, but rather that Jesus has a special intimacy with the Father that is very unique.

I would do well to meet the simpler standards of the disciple’s prayer. I need to remember the five basic principles laid out in this prayer:

1.)                God is on the throne in our prayer’s life (which I often forget). Whether we acknowledge it or not, God is there. It is better if we do acknowledge it than not;

2.)                Kingdom values rule. By stating that the Kingdom of God applies to the earthly and heavenly realms, we acknowledge in prayer that His values take precedence over our own;

3.)                God’s will has already transpired in the heavenlies and needs to be transplanted here on the earth. That’s our job through the Holy Spirit;

4.)                Provision of our needs happens by the grace of God. We struggle with seeing God’s provision. We see the bread, but not the heavenly manna. Our eyes have not yet become fully spiritual, but they will progressively become so;

5.)                As God forgives, so we forgive. It is only through God empowering us that we can forgive. By our own strength, it is impossible. That is why God made true forgiveness so difficult and challenging from a human, natural standpoint;

6.)                Remembrance of God’s deliverance brings us into the right frame of mind. Without actively recalling how God delivers His people, our own prayer life can easily become crippled. This finale of the Discipleship Prayer is the acme of our prayerful stance toward God.

 

What I have done through most of my life hitherto is to pray sporadically. I attempt to pray often, but it is too sporadical, falling in-between other events or activities. It just comes off in my soul as too casual or nonchalant. I have to relearn the reverence of God that drives me to my knees, both when I am experiencing the “mountaintops” of experience and when I am undergoing the “valleys” of experience.

On Mother’s Day, we ought to remember the value of women and mothers who have been praying non-stop for their spouses, for their children, for their communities and churches and pastors. God has used these wonderful mothers and their powerful prayer lives to build His kingdom on earth. Mothers have prayed and cried out in the Spirit and received deliverance. They remember that God is on the throne, that God’s Kingdom values are what really matters, that God’s plan will be realized. They thank God for His provision in abundant and lean times and see in God’s forgiveness a pathway to practice forgiveness in daily life.

God bless the mothers who have been used by Him to usher in His Kingdom!

Mystery of the Sacred Stigmata cover art

Audiobook Nook

Locust & Honey Publications has recently wrapped up an audio project about the Shroud of Turin, written by scholar, Mike Freze, who spoke personally with many who worked on the investigation of the authenticity of the shroud, as to whether this is the ancient burial cloth of our Savior himself. Mike also interacts with the history of stigmatism in the church, including some details about why stigmatic bleeding may afflict certain people in the church. Is it a bane or blessing? You’ll have to decide as you listen to The Mystery of the Sacred Stigmata. We have teamed up with Mike on other audio projects and if you search under “Mike Freze” or “Locust and Honey Publications,” you’ll find about half a dozen books we’ve collaborated on.

Written by Adam Zens

[1] The full text of this oft-cited adage is as follows in the ESV: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

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