“And falling to his (Stephen’s) knees he cried out with a loud voice ‘Lord do not hold this sin against them’ and when he said this he fell asleep” – Acts 7:60
When I read that, my first thought was “hey that sounds kind of familiar…” I realised why when I went to Luke 23 and I saw this:
“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” – Luke 23:34
Reading through this and considering the implication of one of the followers of Jesus praying a very similar prayer to what Jesus did while he was dying, I wondered about how we could perhaps follow the example of Christ when we pray.
So I thought about this little prayer. It’s one that many of us have memorised at some point and time in our lives. It starts like this “Our Father in heaven, may your name be made holy, your kingdom come…” Sound familiar? Maybe you know it better in the KJV: “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come…” You guessed it. It’s the Lord’s Prayer (you can find the whole thing in Matthew 6:9-13). If you are like me then you think “how did Jesus pray” you think “Our Father…”
This idea is not entirely accurate. Before this prayer, Jesus says: “When you pray, pray like this”. So Jesus isn’t really praying as much as He is teaching in this situation. He is telling us how we should pray rather than praying and us taking an example from that.
In fact, some believe that the name “The Lord’s Prayer” might not be the best name for the prayer in Matthew 6. I have heard it said that the prayer in John 17, usually referred to as the “High Priestly Prayer” should be called “The Lord’s Prayer” because it is prayed by the Lord. It goes as such:
“Father the hour has come, glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given Him. And this is eternal life that they know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now Father glorify me with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word… I am praying for them… I do not ask you to take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one… I do not ask for these only, but for those who will believe… I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Unfortunately I cannot give you the whole prayer as it would take up a whole page, but I have given you the highlights of the prayer of Jesus in John 17. Our Lord’s prayer.
Reading it gives me chills. He points out that He has done what was asked of Him, He shares what salvation is, He prays for His followers – both present and future – and He prays that the name of God will continue to be glorified throughout the world, through Him and through His followers.
I think what I find most amazing about this prayer, is that the entire focus is the glorification of God. Of the Father and of Himself. The whole point of everything that is created is that it brings glory to God, and Jesus prays that this may be so. If you ask me, the biggest lesson you can learn from Jesus and His prayer, is that everything we do must be for the glory of God. Is the intent of my prayers the glorification of God?
Through praying that everything will bring glory to God, Jesus is basically saying “may your will be done”. This is something we forget a lot when we are praying for what we want, what we need and what we think we need. Again, ask yourself, “Who’s will am I looking to accomplish when I pray?”
Finally, He also prays for people. He is about to die a painful death and He prays for a really long time for the people who do follow Him and for the people who will follow Him. Did you get that? Jesus prayed for you. Do we pray enough for other people? More importantly, do we pray for their faith?