4/7/2019 – God Moves… Us Toward Bended Knee, Jesus’ Prayers in the Gospel of Luke

From Jesus Baptism to Jesus’ crucifixion Jesus approaches each moment in prayer. Let’s reflect on these ten prayerful moments found in the Gospel of Luke

1- Luke 3:21- [ The Baptism of Jesus ]

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened

2- Luke 5:16- [ After many miracles ]

But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases.  But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.

3- Luke 6:12-  [ Jesus Chooses the Twelve Apostles ]

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles.

4- Luke 9:18- [ Peter’s Declaration about Jesus ]

Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”

5- Luke 9:28-29 – [ The Transfiguration ] Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.  And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.

6- Luke 10:21 – [ After the Seventy returned Jesus rejoices ]

At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…”

7- Luke 11:1-  [ The Lord’s Prayer ]

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

8- Luke 22:39-42 – [ Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives/agony in Gethsemane ]

He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup form me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Then an angel form heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and she said to them, Why are you sleeping?  Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trail

9- Luke 23:34 [ Jesus Prays on the Cross ]

Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

10- Luke 24:30-31 [ Jesus is recognized after the resurrection. ]

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

Jesus spent extended time in prayer in a variety of ways;

Rejoicing- 1- baptism 2- at the return of the 70

When making a decision

-spends a whole night in prayer on the mountain before choosing the disciples

Taught about prayer

-Lord’s Prayer

-and Luke also includes Three  Parables and Teachings about Prayer

Perseverance in Prayer- Luke 11:5-13- The friend at midnight, ask/seek/knock

The Unjust Judge 18:1-8

Pharisee and Tax Collector- 18:9-14

Before, during and after ministry events

- asking who people say that he is

-transfiguration

-after miracles of healing

In Difficult times- 1-Gethsemene and 2-Cross

Also, we see that Jesus prayed alone, in small groups, and publicly showing that no matter where he was or who he was with, that his relationship with his Father would not be limited.

Only one of the ten references show us how Jesus’ body was shaped when he prayed, and that was in the garden of Gethsemane, “he knelt down and prayed”  We know that the content of our prayers, and the examination of our hearts are what keeps our prayers connected to God in relationship.  God hears our prayers no matter if they are spoken silently or publically, standing or sitting, kneeling or bowing.    However, the posture of our bodies may enhance how we pray and the words that we say.

Christianity is an incarnational faith.  God chose to come in a human body to express the fullness of love.  Our heart, soul, mind and bodies are ways we can be a holy offering to God.

And yet when it comes to prayer we often forget about our bodies… we think prayer involves more of our heart, soul and mind.  The fact is that God gifted us with bodies and we can bring this gift to our prayers too!

There are many ways inside and outside of these sanctuary walls we can practice prayers using our bodies such as walking, running, driving, fishing, etc

with each step, turn or cast we can share a prayer concern or lift up a joy.

If you like yoga, maybe you have tried Liturgical Yoga where you experience scriptural truths through body movements.  An instructor shares through various yoga poses help to symbolize scripture, prayer, and contemplation ending with a time to rest in the presence of a loving God.

We find in scripture the following ways our bodies are shaped as we pray…

If we feel that our prayers are leaning toward more respect and honor of our God, the most common way to shape our bodies is bowing. We may not bow our whole body but we bow our heads…
We hear in Psalm 95:6- “Oh come, let us worship and bow down;.”  We can find this as possibly the most common way to experience prayer in churches, individuals and other faith groups.

Scripture will often mention people standing to pray in public worship as another sign of respect and honor.  Such as Solomon when dedicating the temple while he prayed all the people in the assembly stood. ( 2 Chronicles 6:3).

In our worship services we stand at the 9:00 when lighting a candle and at the 11:15 we stand during the prayer of confession.  For the Jewish faith, thanks to our local Jewish expert Katharine Gorsuch, many Jewish communities stand for prayers such as when praying the Shema, also they will stand when bringing out and returning of the Torah.  And for orthodox Jews they stand for almost all prayers.

We hear also how people pray flat on the ground with their faces toward the ground which is a sign of overwhelming respect.  We read how Moses fell in the presence of the Lord as well as Joshua.  Many Pentecostal and charismatic churches may be led more toward this type of praying position.

Scripture describes those who would raise their hands as a sign of praise and honor such as the priests who worshiped in the temple in the Psalms or Timothy sharing that all men should raise their holy hands.  We find many denominations that will lift up holy hands and even Presbyterians will lift a holy hand or two if it is instructed to do so.

Lastly is that of kneeling for prayer which is a sign of humility and dependence.  We hear of many who knelt for prayer such as Daniel (Daniel 6:10) and Stephen (Acts 7:60) and in Luke we hear of Jesus kneeling to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Many churches of various denominations incorporate kneeling prayers into their services by bringing petitions to God at a kneeling bench, kneeling at the alter or kneeling along the front steps.  Many Christians and other faiths find this as a natural position to pray by kneeling at the bedside, kneeling to teach children to pray and kneeling in times of great struggle.

In talking with a woman this week who grew up catholic, she still remembers to this day how her father begin his day by kneeling to pray at the bedside and would close his day in the same way by kneeling at the bedside prayer.  It was very typical to look in the bedroom and find her father praying in this way.

The confirmation class and their mentors visited St John’s Catholic last month. During the reflection and dinner afterwards as a group one of the youth shared how he didn’t like how our group did not kneel for prayer alongside our Catholic brothers and sisters.  This was a great awareness, knowing how our Presbyterian habits may have limited our full experience of a catholic worship service. So next confirmation class get ready for our visit to the catholic church to include kneeling for prayer.

This past week in reflecting on kneeling prayers, I realized how little we knee for prayer in this denomination that I have grown up in, and in my family as well. Yet there is a very special time within the life of the church where you will find Presbyterians on their knees and that is at the time of ordination as an elder or as a pastor. The laying on of hands by the community of ordained elders who are or have been leaders of the church in the past, is truly a humbling moment for anyone who has experienced this prayer as a participant knowing that in leadership the dependence upon God is how we serve during our terms of office.

We may have cleaned floors on our knees or repaired a pipe on knees,
we may cleaned a skinned knee followed by placing a band aid and sealing the injury with a kiss,

or we may have had one or two knee replacements giving us a new appreciation for our knees.

But in thinking through all of these uses for our knees, when was the last time you prayed on your knees;  last night, last week, last year, or possibly never.

A mom I knew decided one morning to spend some time on her knees. She prayed in each room of her house.  She gave thanks for the memories that each room held.  She prayed for the people who called each room their own, and for the people who had shared time as guests in various rooms.  After this time of prayer, she reflected on the experience how when you are on your knees there is a type of focus on prayer, or possibly the pain from kneeling down on hardwood compared to carpet and how this type of prayer position helped to decrease the distractions that may appear with you have your head bowed where sleep becomes more evident than prayer.

We find that Jesus asks for prayers from his disciples on the mount of olives yet they fall asleep, maybe they needed be on their knees like Jesus who is a stone’s throw away from them praying on his knees in the garden of Gethsemane

PICTURE- The garden of Gethsemane may be one of the favorite places visited in the holy lands, although surrounded by buildings, this does seem to be a natural place where Jesus prayed.  And from the hillside on the Mount of Olives and walking down the path, it does seem to be a good stone throw away as the passage shares.  To give you a visual of a stones throw from the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane would look like throwing a stone from here in the chapel/sanctuary to the bottom of the hill landing on Forest Drive.

PICTURE- In the garden, Jesus’ words are carved in stone on a plaque from the gospel of Matthew; My Father, If it be possible, let this cup pass from me: Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

This prayer of Jesus’ found in Mathew, Mark and Luke affirms Jesus’ ways to face trials asking others to pray for him and praying to his Father as well.

And then a beautiful written prayer is written in response to Jesus’ prayer which reads:

O Jesus, In deepest night and agony You spoke these words of trust and surrender to God the Father in Gethsemane.  In love and gratitude I want to say in times of fear and distress, ‘My Father, I do not understand You, but I trust You.”

We have seen how the gospel of Luke associates prayer with the most important moments of Jesus’ life from Baptism to Miracles to Teaching to Cross to Blessing.  May we as his followers incorporate prayer in all we do by furthering our relationship with God and furthering God’s kingdom here on earth.

At the end of the worship, you will receive a cross.   This cross is a reminder of the love and hope from our savior and lord that has created great fullness in our life now and forevermore.

Carry the cross this week and next in your pockets or in a prominent place in your purse or wallet as a mindful tool to listen to where the Spirit is leading you to pray for 30 minutes or longer on Good Friday, preferably between the hours of 9-3 when Jesus was hanging on the cross.

Maybe the spirit will invite you to kneel   in humility and dependence, leaving behind the cross for others to be humbled before the Lord as well.

Maybe the Spirit will lead you to pray alongside our catholic brothers and sisters on Good Friday as the prayer stations of the cross begins at 3:00 p.m. at St. John Catholic

Maybe the Spirit will lead you to a special room in your house, or work or school to pray standing, sitting, lying on the floor or with head bow.

After this spiritual discipline of personal prayer is complete on Good Friday, leave the cross behind in the place where you prayed with the hope that it will be found by someone who needs Jesus to be Lord of their life too.

Gracious God,

We come searching for your grace

Bring us to our knees when we are weak so you can make us strong.

Draw us to the cross where we are restored through forgiveness and mercy.
Send us out as prayerful disciples awake and ready to serve you this day. Amen

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