In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. – Hebrews 5:7 ESV
Sometimes I think we resent having to pray. We see it as some kind of a burden or task we have to perform in order to get God’s attention and have Him do for us the things He ought to do without us having to ask. If we were honest we would have to admit that we get a little tired of having to go to God and ask Him for things. We end up doing so begrudgingly and somewhat doubtfully. Our fervor ends up being a bit weak and our expectations are usually low.
But look at Jesus. He prayed. He prayed a lot. And His prayers were anything but resentful, reluctant or filled with doubt. The writer of Hebrews tells us the prayers of Jesus were accompanied with loud cries and tears. He was passionate and emotional when He prayed. Jesus was anything but indifferent about His prayer life. He took it seriously and practiced it regularly – with intensity, expectancy, and a reverence for the one to whom He was praying. In fact, we’re told that “God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God” (Hebrews 5:7 NLT). Jesus didn’t come to God with a flippant, I-have-my-rights kind of an attitude. He was reverent and respectful, refusing to let His position as the Son of God diminish His humility and dependence upon God. Paul writes concerning Jesus, that “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7-8 ESV). Jesus wasn’t presumptuous. While He was 100 percent God, He was also 100 percent human, and in “the days of his flesh” He lived with complete dependence upon His heavenly Father. He was submissive, reliant, and always willing to accept His Father’s will for His life, because He trusted Him. The writer of Hebrews goes on to say, “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8 NLT). Even Jesus learned to be obedient, to do what His Father asked, even though His humanity desired to avoid the pain, suffering and humiliation.
“While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death” (Hebrews 5:7 NLT). One of the things we fail to recognize when considering Jesus’ earthly ministry is His humanity. We almost view Jesus with a Greek mentality, seeing Him as some kind of a God masquerading as a man – as if He was simply wearing some kind of a man suit, like a child wearing a costume for Halloween. But Jesus became flesh. He took on humanity. He didn’t just pretend to be a man, He was one. He was born. He grew up. He ate, grew hungry, suffered pain, required sleep, had feelings, could bleed, and even die. And He prayed – regularly, passionately, expectantly, willingly, emotionally, and submissively. He didn’t take anything for granted. He didn’t act like a spoiled, privileged rich kid who demanded His own way or thought of Himself too good to pray. Prayer for Jesus was His lifeline to God. He was separated from His Father by His humanity. He had left His rightful place in heaven and taken on human flesh. He had taken on the limitations of humanity and was no longer able to sit in His Father’s presence, enjoying His fellowship. Prayer was how Jesus reconnected with His Father. It was how He communicated His feelings and received much-needed encouragement and love. Like a husband separated from his wife by thousands of miles and months, prayer for Jesus was like a much-anticipated letter, filled with expressions of love and encouragement. Jesus needed to hear from His Father. He was facing unbelievable difficulty and He knew that, ultimately, He would be required to die an excruciating death. Which is why the author of Hebrews says Jesus offered His prayers “to him who was able to save him from death.” Jesus knew that His life was in God’s hands. His future was completely dependent upon God. So when Jesus prayed, He was coming to the one who was asking Him to suffer and die, but also the one who was going to raise Him from the dead. Jesus brought His temporary needs to the one who had an eternal plan for His life.
Sometimes our expectations of God are so small. We come so reluctantly and doubtfully. We don’t expect much from God. But Jesus saw His Father as the one who was going to save Him from death. Jesus knew that His life was going to be difficult. He realized that there were going to be days filled with rejection, ridicule, pain and suffering. But He had a long-term, future-oriented perspective. He knew that His job was to die a sacrificial, substitutionary death on behalf of mankind. It was God’s job to raise Him back to life. And in the meantime, He would keep going back to His Father for strength, encouragement, love, and guidance. He would be passionate, persistent, and expectant in His prayer life. He would pray about anything and everything. He would pray for hours at a time. He would get alone with God and share His innermost thoughts. He would listen. He would hear. He would walk away encouraged. And He would trust that His life was in good hands and His future was secure because His Father loved Him.
Paul reminds us, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11 NLT). Our Father is going to raise us to newness of life one day as well. We can trust Him. We can rest in Him. And in the meantime, we can talk to Him. We can bring Him our troubles, trials, doubts, fears, hurts, heartaches, and need for encouragement. He is listening. And He longs to hear from us.