PRAYING LIKE JESUS PRAYED (Praying Scriptures 4)
Often, we struggle with meaningful, effective prayers. We repeat ourselves day after day, our minds wander and we don’t feel like we’ve connected with God. In previous blogs I’ve talked about praying Scripture back to God as a means of directing our prayers and having two-way conversation with Him. The early church prayed that way, so did George Muller. Jesus Himself prayed that way.
When tempted after fasting 40 days in the wilderness, Jesus quoted the book of Deuteronomy to counter Satan’s attacks (Matthew 4). On the cross, Jesus said only seven brief statements. The Roman soldiers had beaten Him until ribbons of skin hung from His bloody back. He had barely been able to stagger to the place of crucifixion. He hung from the cross severely dehydrated. His entire body weight pulled on the three spikes that held Him to the wood. He had to push up on the spike in His feet to get enough breath into His diaphragm so He could speak. But to do so was so agonizing that He would speak only briefly before sinking back down. If the Romans wanted to hasten the death of those they crucified, they would break the prisoners’ legs so they couldn’t push up and would soon die of asphyxiation. They did this to the two thieves at Jesus’s side (John 19:31-33).
It’s no surprise then that Jesus spoke very little. But each word He said had great meaning. The longest statement He made was, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46), the first verse of Psalm 22. This Psalm is the most lengthy and explicit prophecy in the Old Testament about the crucifixion. Psalm 22 contains more details about the physical aspects of crucifixion than all four gospels combined. By quoting the first verse, Jesus was identifying with the whole Psalm, even though He wasn’t able to utter all of it. His listeners would have thought of the rest of the Psalm. The whole Psalm became Jesus’ prayer at that time.
Psalm 22:14 says, “I am poured out like water,” just as John reported (John 19:34-35). Verse 14 refers to all His bones being out of joint, which is what happened to a victim of crucifixion. The extreme thirst is mentioned in verse 15, just as Jesus experienced (John 19:28). There are many more examples of His suffering, His clothes being divided, the reaction of the criminals also dying with Him and the response of the people. But the Psalm concludes with God’s answering and delivering Him (Psalm 22:19-31). This must have brought great comfort and assurance to Jesus as He was going through the misery of crucifixion. Praying this Psalm helped Jesus keep His eyes on God and the goal He was striving for (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Then at the end, Jesus gathered the last ounce of His strength, strained upward up a final time, and cried, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46) which is a quote of Psalm 31:5. The final act of Jesus’ earthly life was to pray the words of a Psalm.
Praying God’s Word brings peace and comfort, it resets our priorities and helps focus on His truth instead of the lies that defeat us. It helps us put into words our deepest feelings and desires. It helps us remember God’s promises and the future victory that is in store for all of us so we can persevere through present painful situations. Follow Jesus’ example – pray the Scriptures.
Ephesians 6:17–18 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Turn to Psalm 22 in your Bible and start praying it to God as a way of remembering and thanking Him for the crucifixion. Focus on worship, not your own needs.
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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