In the season of Easter, we remember that Jesus was crucified for our sins, that He is now raised from the dead, and that “death no longer has mastery over him,” (Romans 6:9). Jesus will never die again. He is triumphant and victorious.
I think of some of the theological terms I learned in confirmation class. God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (everywhere present at the same time). But did you know that there is one place where Jesus does not ever come uninvited? That place is into your heart. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.”
O’Hallesby, a Norwegian theologian and Christian writer, says in his book “Prayer,” that Rev. 3:20 is a thesis for all prayer. When we pray, we are opening the door of our life to invite the presence of an all-powerful Savior, Jesus, to come into the context of our daily life circumstances. We open the door to invite Jesus into the rhythms of each day’s life, our relationships, our challenges, our struggles, and our joys.
So when you pray, why do you pray? According to this promise from Matthew, I would say we pray because Jesus, the Lord of life, invites us. His words are beautiful. “Come to me.” It’s an open, standing invitation. “Come to me.” Jesus regularly used this invitation when He spoke with His disciples. He said, “Come, follow me.” Another time he said, “Come away with me to a quiet place and rest,” or Come to the wedding banquet.
After the resurrection, when Thomas doubted that Jesus was raised from the dead, Jesus said to him, “Come, Thomas. Place your fingers in the nail prints, put your hand in my wound. Don’t be disbelieving, but believe.” And in Matthew 11, He tells us, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden. I will give you rest.”
In the aftermath of Pentecost when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit came upon all flesh, Peter and John were at the Temple. Peter healed a beggar sitting at the gate called Beautiful and gave all credit for this healing to the name and power of the resurrected Jesus. The captain of the Temple, the priests and the Sadducees did not want them to preach about Jesus. (That was why they killed Him.) So they put Peter and John in jail overnight. The next morning, as the religious leaders deliberated about what to do with the disciples, it says, “They saw that Peter and John were uneducated, ordinary men, . . . and they noted that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:14).
Spending time in the presence of Jesus Christ changes our life. He invites us to commune with Him and consult with Him, to lay down our burdens. Would that someone would look at us and say, I can tell you’ve been in the presence of Jesus.
When Moses came down from the mountain after receiving the Ten Commandments from Yahweh, his face radiated with the glory of God. He shone with the light of having been in God’s presence.
When we hear Jesus’ invitation to prayer, would that our lives shine with the light of His love. Would that the peace that passes all understanding, which comes from being with the all-powerful, all loving Lord Jesus, exude from our being in a way that spills over into courage and confidence for each day.
Corrie ten Boom was a survivor of a World War II Nazi prison camp and became a Christian author. She said, “Nothing can happen today that Jesus and I can’t handle together.” When we respond to the invitation of Jesus to be with Him, prayer will bless us and change us for the better.
So why do we pray? Simply because the Lord Jesus invites us to come to Him. But also because the resurrected Jesus does not want His people to carry life’s burdens or face life’s challenges alone. “Come to me when you’re weary . . .” When you have worked to the point of utter exhaustion and are totally spent, with nothing left. Marathon runners will often say they “hit the wall” on the 17th or 18th mile.
Remember the woman who had the physical malady of 12 years flow of blood? She suffered for years with pain and isolation. She had spent all she had and yet wasn’t healed, but when she saw Jesus coming by, she thought that if only she could touch the hem of His garment, she would be whole. There is a sense in which prayer in the midst of weariness, having spent it all, having come to the end of ourselves, is reaching to touch the grace of Jesus. “Come to me when you’re heavy laden and burdened down.”
Do you ever have moments where, in physical or emotional pain, you are burdened beyond the point of taking it? When the anxieties of life become so heavy? Maybe you’ve fought with a secret sin and are afraid of being discovered. Maybe you have carried guilt, shame, and regret over some great significant moral failure for years. The One who went to the cross, who poured out His life with grace greater than all our sin, says, “Come to me. I forgive you.”
I’m told that ocean ships often will collect a large amount of sea barnacles that attach to the ship’s hull. They can be weighed down so they ride lower in the water. But those barnacles can also slow down the ship’s navigational speed, causing it to no longer cut cleanly through the water. Now you can either bring the ship into dry dock and, at great labor scrape, and scour those barnacles off, or take that ocean liner up into the mouth of the river where there is fresh water and the sea barnacles will simply drop off.
“Come to me,” Jesus says. In prayer, we come into the freshness of the grace of Jesus where all that guilt, shame, all the heaviness of life’s burdens can be emptied out, and Jesus will take it from us.
The third reason we should pray is that Jesus wants our lives to be inseparably linked to Him. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” What a beautiful image! In prayer our lives connect intimately with the Lord Jesus. He promises in John 14 that He will be our Comfort, our Counselor, our Guide. And we can learn from Him. A disciple wants to continually learn from the Master on the journey of life, and, along the way, the Master will show us the right way and walk in step with us. More than that, the character of Jesus’ gentleness and humbleness will shape our very hearts.
Do you remember in Philippians 2 where Paul wrote, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, . . . became obedient to death Ð even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:5 – 9). As our lives are by faith and prayer yoked to Jesus Christ, I pray that His gentle Spirit and humbleness lead us to be servants to all people in love so they may impact the world with the blessing of God.
Why pray? Because Jesus wants our lives to be yoked to Him.
Lastly, why should we pray? Because Jesus is alive from the dead! He is not powerless or irrelevant. He is the Lord of life and the Lord of love, and He wishes to pour His love into our hearts each day. Romans 5 tells us that when He does this by His Holy Spirit, our hopes are never disappointed.
Luther said that prayer is like a little child coming to his parent. They do so for two reasons. First, the child believes that the parent loves him. Second, the child comes daring to ask for anything because he believes the parent has the power to do something. In prayer we come to the Lord Jesus, the Lord of love, because we believe He does love us unconditionally, and he has the power to do whatever we ask in His name, according to His will.
A few weeks ago, my family celebrated the resurrection on Easter Sunday. My grandson, Carew, who is two years old, came up to me after playing hard all afternoon. He climbed up on Papa’s lap and laid his head against my chest, his head against my throbbing heart. Then he closed his eyes and went to sleep. That is prayer. Prayer trusts
the heart of God, and we literally, by faith in prayer, place our lives in the hands of our dear heavenly Father. We do so confidently in the name of Jesus.
So we pray because Jesus invites us, “Come to me.” We pray because Jesus does not want His people to carry life’s burdens or face life challenges alone. We pray because Jesus wants our lives inseparably linked to Him, yoked to Him for the journey so we might learn from Him. And we pray so that the Lord of love might pour His life and Spirit into our hearts every day. We climb into our God’s lap and rest in His love.