Previously, I wrote of Luke recording Jesus at prayer eleven times in his Gospel narrative. In that post I offered my thoughts on the first six of those prayers. Here I intend to offer a brief survey concerning what I believe the final five mean for us. It has been an unexpected blessing for me to study these eleven Scriptures in their contexts. I hope and pray that I keep in mind what I have learned, because experience tells me that it is all too easy to settle back in one’s old, familiar ways. May God keep me from doing that.
The seventh time Jesus is at prayer in Luke’s Gospel is in Luke 11:1, and immediately following one of the Apostles came to him asking him to teach them how to pray. Although the disciple probably sought to be more effective in prayer, saying the correct words etc. that would bring an answer, Jesus wanted to teach them that formulas weren’t needed, because the Father was more ready to answer their prayers than they were willing to believe (Luke 11:13). The fact is, we really don’t know how to pray, because the languages of men are bereft of the words that would properly describe what they should say (cf. Romans 8:26, 34). Rather it is God, himself, who enters into our prayers in order to allow him to bless us as he desires to do (Luke 11:13).
The eighth time Luke records Jesus was at prayer is found in Luke 22:32, where Jesus told Peter that he would be tried in a manner that would not only test his faith like never before, but he would end in his denying Jesus. However, afterward, when Peter had turned himself around, he was to encourage his brethren. That is, Peter’s faith wouldn’t fail, because Jesus prayed for him, but he was to tell others of his defeat, so his brethren who would go through similar trials would be encouraged (Luke 22:31-32). Peter’s two epistles show us how he obeyed the Lord.
The ninth time Jesus is recorded at prayer in Luke’s Gospel is found in Luke 22:40-44. Many Christians believe Jesus prayed that God would relieve him of the responsibility of dying through crucifixion, but this is a lie of the devil. It slanders Jesus that he would be afraid and fall back in the face of committing himself to the will of God. Yes, he did pray for God’s will to be done, but didn’t Jesus know what that will was, or did it slip his mind for the moment? All of Jesus’ prayers were answered by God (John 11:42). Something else was going on in Gethsemane than what meets the eye. In a study elsewhere I have showed that Jesus’ apparent communication with the Father was interrupted, and he was no longer aware of the Father’s voice. This occurred unexpectedly and was the result of Jesus already bearing the sins of men, which is depicted in his blood he shed there in Gethsemane (cf. Luke 22:44), and those sins, our sins, had separated him from the Father, hiding his face in fellowship (cf. Isaiah 59:2). Jesus looked for the Father’s voice to come through one of the three disciples (cf. Matthew 16:17), but their eyes were heavy (Mark 14:40). Finally, Jesus answer came through an angelic visit, because, though the disciples were willing, their flesh was weak (Matthew 26:41). The Father’s voice got through, and Jesus was strengthened (Luke 22:43).
The tenth time Jesus is found at prayer in Luke is at Luke 23:34. After he was nailed to the cross, and as he was raised up before the gazing crowd, and it being the third hour (the hour of prayer), Jesus prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” This wasn’t a mere prayer that God would forgive Jesus’ tormentors, but it was a prayer that God would look upon Jesus and receive his death as payment for not only the sins of his tormentors, but for the sins of all mankind, whose sins were responsible for putting Jesus on that cross. Do you think Jesus’ prayer was answered, or is this the only prayer the Father wouldn’t hear from Jesus (cf. John 11:42).
The final time Luke records Jesus at prayer occurred, while he hung on the cross (Luke 23:46). At that time there was a great earthquake (Matthew 27:54; cf. Luke 23:47), and the veil of the Temple was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:50-51), as the lintel over the Temple doors broke and fell to the ground, tearing the curtain that was attached to it. Thus, signifying fellowship was granted to all, and all were welcome to eat of the shewbread, which is Christ (cf. John 6:33), and offer prayers at the altar of incense.
Thus, Luke records eleven times where Jesus made intercession for us, and God always hears Jesus’ prayers (John 11:42). However, not all of Jesus’ prayers **must** be answered as he desires. Sometimes the answer requires a response from us, as it did concerning his prayer for the healing of the nation in Luke 5:16. A response from the Jewish leadership was necessary, and they responded negatively—we will not have this man reign over us (Luke 19:14; cf. 5:17-26; 6:1-11). Even in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus had hoped the voice of his Father would come to him through one of his three disciples, but, although they were willing, their flesh was weak (Matthew 26:41). Therefore, Jesus answer came through heaven itself. The point is that Jesus has done the job of an intercessor, and it remains for us to respond. Heaven is opened and remains open, will we believe and reach our for the blessing? There is healing for our sins in Jesus, but will we permit him to reign over us? When heaven seems like a plate of iron, and we have no direction, will we wait for heaven to get through? The Bread of Life and fellowship with God are available to us (Luke 23:46-47; Matthew 27:50-51, 54) but will we go boldly before the throne of grace. (Hebrews 4;16)? The works are finished. It remains for us to respond and rest our lives in the work of God (cf. Hebrews 4:9).