Why Did Jesus Pray?
After an angry roommate at the local nursing home where I visit turned down the ear shattering volume of her television, I was able to continue the weekly reading in the Gospel of Luke with my new 94 year old sister in Christ. Reading the Bible to this frail but spunky woman is a bit like reading to a child due to her apparent dementia, and so the progress is slow and with much explanation and discussion. We came upon a simple statement in Luke 6:12: "Jesus went out into the hills to pray, and spent the night praying to God." Imagine that-- an entire night praying. Why?
Today I went to Sunday worship at our church, and it was good to be with others who love the Lord and to spend time worshipping Him. As is often the case, afterwards, when lunch dishes were put away, I indulged in a Sunday afternoon nap. Awaking to a quiet house, I pulled up Facebook to see what the world was up to and began following a couple of posts as they appeared. First up was an innocuous article on a 4,000 step stairway up mountains in Hawaii. The only problem was that the article was set amongst an onslaught of near pornographic images of women. Saddened, I moved on to another post which led to pictures and commentary on the much talked about sex change of Bruce Jenner, who has at last "found his true self." I shut the laptop sickened and with distress began to once again spill out my heart to my Lord and Savior.
"Why God? Why have you put me here on this sin-cursed earth? I don't belong here." As I continued to pray about my frustration with living in a world that I don't fit in to, it occurred to me why Jesus spent so much time in prayer during his time on earth. He was holy God living in the midst of sin, which was highly offensive and repulsive to his very nature. Yes, he came to save the sinners and to demonstrate his love to all the world, but he was an alien in a strange land. No one understood him. No one could offer him the true companionship that was needed, except for His father in heaven. Only through prayer could his longing heart find the sweet communion that sustained him through the daily ordeals of life.
I know that true Christians far and wide wrestle with the same frustrations I do of being inundated by such offensive behavior. The world might call our frustration, anger, and sadness "closed mindedness" or "intolerance," but it's not. It stems from the root of who we are. Through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ for salvation from our sins, we have been given the very nature of Christ living in us through the Holy Spirit. His holy nature recoils at sin. As 1 John 3:10 says, "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are."
Unfortunately, the nature of God dwelling in us causes such a terrible dichotomy, which produces unrest. We are to be "in the world but not of it." We are to love the sinner but hate the sin. We are to live the light of Christ to a lost world, and yet, like Christ, we don't belong. Many Christians respond by learning to ignore the voice of the Holy Spirit, thereby finding greater freedom to follow the flesh, which would definitely make the world seem more like home. But, what about those of us who want to please the Lord? How do we manage to press on as we "groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling" (2 Cor.5:4)? We do as Jesus did. We make a point; yes, even if it means going without sleep to do so, to commune, uninterrupted, in fellowship with the Father. He has given us His precious Word to encourage and strengthen us, and we can also come boldly into the throne room to spend time with Him. After all, "He died for us, so that, whether we are awake" (alive) "or asleep" (dead), "we may live together with him. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thes.5:10 & 16).