John 17:13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”
Prayer is very interesting. Jesus was very clear that we are not to pray in public for the sake of being seen and heard by people, (Matthew 6:5-6) but at the same time He showed us by example, here and at the resurrection of Lazarus, (John 11) that sometimes we are to pray to be seen and heard by people. The difference is why we want to be seen and heard. In Matthew Jesus is addressing people who want to flaunt their piety. Some people simply want it to be seen that they are praying, so that they will be admired. I’d say their prayers have about as much effect as flicking a teaspoon of water at a forest fire. Here, and elsewhere, Jesus prayed out loud so that those around Him could be blessed by His words. It is a powerful encouragement to know that someone is praying for you, and the easiest way for that to happen is for them to do so in your presence. Jesus had perfect communication with His Father, but He sometimes conducted that communication in public so that those around Him could know the content and be blessed in that way. I was very blessed to know Dr. Cal Guy while I was a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. One of his trademarks was that whenever someone asked him for prayer, he would stop whatever he was doing and pray, whether it was in the middle of class or walking on the campus or in a grocery store or wherever. Many people were greatly blessed by that, and I’m sure it was life-changing for quite a few. We aren’t to flaunt prayer, but neither are we to hide it. Often enough, Spirit-guided prayer (Romans 8:26) is prophetic, speaking the very words of God into situations. We should not draw back from that!
Because of the home in which I was raised, prayer has always been as natural to me as breathing, so I found Dr. Guy to be a kindred spirit indeed. I try to follow his example, but sometimes people find it intimidating! That is never my intention. As a pastor one of my highest priorities is for each believer to have an intimate relationship with the Trinity, certainly including prayer, so I need to teach by example, allowing them to hear how I pray. However, if they are not used to the idea of personal prayer, hearing me pray so freely has been known to make people feel they could never pray like that, so they don’t try. That’s a tragic trick of the devil! Even Jesus said, “I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father Himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” (John 16:26-27) Faith gives each individual a personal ticket into the throne room of God. I need to help people understand that I can pray as I do – not because I’m a pastor, but because God loves me and I love Him, just as He loves them and they can love Him. I need to communicate God’s love to them so that they will delight to talk with their Daddy, in private and in public and all the time, just as I do.
Father, thank You for this Word, and for making it clear I’m to share it Sunday. Thank You for the brother who has decided to commit himself to You, and for the time we could have together yesterday, but he’s not the only one who needs to know more about prayer. Help me share Your heart with Your words so that Your will may be done in the hearts and lives of all my hearers, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!