One of the most effective ways to keep our corporate prayer dynamic is to keep it focused on Jesus. Jesus and His desires are a far more long-lasting and motivating factor in our praying than us and our needs.
On several occasions Jesus let people know that He is the primary topic of Scripture. To His dissenters, Jesus said “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life” (John 5:39-40). And to His followers, Jesus, “…beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, (He) explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).
Both Jesus and other biblical characters emphasize the story of the love the Father has for the Son. John the Baptist said, “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands” (John 3:35). In Ephesians 1:6 Paul adds “… which He has freely given us in the One He loves.” And again in Colossians 1:13 he writes “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves,…” In each of these cases, this was not the primary message, it was intentionally inserted by the author.
Jesus himself emphasized this as He taught and prayed.
- John 5:20 “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.”
- John 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.”
- John 17:24-26 “…Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (Emphasis added.)
Dr. Tim Keller says, “If we ever tell a particular Bible story without putting it into the overall main Bible story (about Christ) we actually change the meaning of the particular event for us. It becomes a moralistic exhortation to ‘try harder’ rather than a call to live by faith in the work of Christ. There is, in the end, only two ways to read the Bible: Is it a book basically about me or basically about Jesus?”
This reflects both Spurgeon and Calvin. “From every text of Scripture there is a road to Christ. And my dear brother, your business is, when you get to the text, to say, now, what is the road to Christ? I have never found a text that did not have a road to Christ in it.” (Charles Spurgeon) “We ought to read the Scriptures with the express design of finding Christ in them.” (John Calvin)
Since He, and the relationship between Him and the Father, is the primary story of the Scriptures, it is also appropriate that Jesus and His kingdom be the primary object of our prayers. This is also very clear from the first three requests of the Lord’s Prayer.
When Jesus taught us the specific way He wanted us to pray He began with these three requests: Let Your name be holy, let Your kingdom come, and let Your will be done. It is very appropriate for us to pray about our needs. But Jesus made it very clear that before we pray about our needs, we should first consider His desires.
Later in the same chapter, Jesus summarizes His teaching by saying, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) It is not that we should not pray about our needs. It is that we should be aware that His kingdom has priority over our needs. If we seek Him and His righteousness, then our needs will also be met. But if all we do is seek to have our needs met in prayer, it is a real possibility that we will miss Him who is Life itself!
Great saints of the past understood this. People like Count Zinzendorf, and A. B. Simpson (and many others) write that the joy of prayer is not when we seek the gifts that He can provide for us, but rather when we seek the Giver Himself.
This is what David writes about in Psalm 131:2. “But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
A weaned child is one that is no longer nursing. The reason this child is at its mother’s breast is not to receive nourishment. It is not there to receive anything but the warmth of the mother’s love. The picture David gives us is to help us see the absolute delight of being with Him simply to enjoy His presence. Often times we need to get to this place on purpose. We need to speak to our soul with all of its concerns and say, “Be still.” We need to recalibrate at times and recognize that what looks like the most pressing need is not the most pressing need. There is a place for making requests to Him. Jesus invites us to bring Him our requests. But they are not to preempt time spent just to enjoy Him.
*Blessed by Doing – The next time you have opportunity, seek to facilitate at least half of the prayer time simply focusing on Jesus from some key Scriptures, such as Colossians 1:15-20, Philippians 2:1-11 or Revelation 4 and 5.
Taken from “United and Ignited”. Click here for more information.