“And it came to pass that as he was praying in a certain place, when He had ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples. And He said unto them, When you pray say, Our Father which art in heaven....”
This passage has a comparative passage in Matthew 6 but we do not think that they are the same. Matthew 5 & 6 have a setting of a multitude gathered on a mountain and when Jesus went to them, He called His disciples to Him and He taught them. In our text Jesus is alone with His disciples in a private setting and He has just concluded praying when He entertains a question. This question is a most revealing one since these men confess that they do not know how to pray. Surely someone brought up in the Jewish traditions and feasts knew what praying was but the mantras and chants of the rituals were not the same as what Jesus did when He withdrew Himself and spoke with His Father. Hence the disciples asked to be taught how to pray as John taught his disciples. There is no record given in scripture of any prayers that John taught or any that were receipted but the fact that the disciples referenced them is a clear enough indication that they existed and that they also were different from the accepted forms of prayer.
Jesus said, “When you pray”. He did not say ‘if you pray’ or in any way insinuate that prayer was an option. Nor did He say, “while you are praying” as if to incorporate an addendum into the current forms and structures. His answer indicated that His disciples, all save one who was a child of grace, had the ability to pray and did so. (It should also be noted that He does not answer the reference to John).
He then said, “Say, Our Father”. No one but a child of the King has any right to a private audience of this nature. The bond between those who are born from above, born of the Spirit and their Father is the right of access to the throne of grace. If one has not been born from above they are not the son of God and are none of His. But one who is of the generation of Jesus Christ, hewn from that Rock, is accepted in the beloved and is now the son of God, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God” (I John 3:2). Once again the eternal unity of the Father and His seed is set forth. Those who are the sons of God have been born from above. They were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world having the everlasting love of the Father being the partakers of that New Covenant. These are children of promise who have become partakers of the infirmities of the flesh and the Spirit, by which they were born, helps with those infirmities (for we know not what we should pray for as we ought) but the Spirit itself, makes intercession for the saints according tot he will of God (Rms. 8:26). The Spirit does not help the infirmities of the children by requiring the infirmity to petition God for redress. Nor does He mandate that the weakness of the flesh must be up and active in order to resole the infirmity. The natural man does not know about the infirmity but for the presence of the indwelling Spirit which cries out, “Abba Father”.
When John saw the revelation of Jesus Christ he said that before the throne he saw 24 elders that each had a golden vial “full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints” (5:7). These vials were not being filled as the saints offered their prayers and they certainly were not overflowing from the onslaught of the ‘prayer warriors’ as they rallied the troops to inundate the throne with petitions. They were full and they were before the throne, the Lamb and He that sat upon the throne IN HEAVEN!!!!
Latter he said he saw that when the seventh seal was opened, there was silence in heaven for about the space of half and hour. Seven angels were given seven trumpets, “And another angel came a stood at the altar, having a golden censer. And there was given unto him much incense that he should offer, with the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer and filled it with fire of the altar and cast it unto the earth:” (8:3ff). The prayers of the saints are eternally before the throne and God. They are not offered up in the morning devotional, before meals and the evening vespers, they are in the smoke of the incense ascending up before God. And they are given from heaven to the earth to the saints. The Spirit that has the mind of God presents only the petitions of the saints before the throne that have been granted by the Father and they are therefore according to His will.
Only Aaron could bring the incense into the Holy of Holies and set it before the Ark of the Testimony and the Mercy seat, where God dwelt. Only when the blood was applied to the horns of the Ark of the Covenant would God hold audience with His people and only the pure spices in exact amount, beaten very small, qualified as the perfume of the incense. The High Priest, Aaron (the bringer of light) could light the candlestick and the incense upon the altar and it must be a perpetual incense (Ex. 30:6-8). It was most holy throughout the generations and no imitations were allowed, even to the extent of mimicking the aroma (Ex. 30:34-38). So when Hophni and Phineas brought ‘false fire’ before the Lord they received the judgment of God and immediate death. This is why when Christ taught the multitude on the mountain in Matthew 5 & 6, He said, “And when thou prayest, thou shalt no be as the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the street that they may bee seen of men” and “Use not vain repetitions as the heathen for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matt. 6:5 & 8).
The natural man does not know the mind of God or the will of God. He cannot speak a word that would move or coerce God into action or prevent Him from the intents of His heart. But the child of grace has the indwelling of the Godhead and his cries and petitions are continually before the one who has endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself and has been tempted in ALL points, like as unto His children, yet without sin. His cry upon the cross was “Father into thy hands I commend My Spirit” therefore He taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father”. This is how His children “Pray without ceasing”.
Confess you faults one to another for we are carnal sold unto sin and without Him we can do nothing. Pray one for another for there is no temptation come unto you but that which is common unto all men. The effectual fervent prayer, which is forever before the throne and granted to one redeemed of the Lord is in His name and according to the will of God and it avails much (is powerful). (James 5:16)
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
February 6, 2011