I recently read a little book called The Prayer of Jesus: Secrets of Real Intimacy with God by Hank Hanegraaff. Styled like recent cult success The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson, The Prayer of Jesus takes a no-nonsense look at an often overlooked section of scripture. Many liturgical churches simply repeat the words of Jesus’ prayer like a mantra. But brother Hanegraaff tells us something we need to hear: that the prayer is not intended to be a mantra. Rather, there are real words with real meaning. Do we really think about what it means to pray those words? What does it mean to pray saying, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name”? Do we really know what it means to call God our Father? Do we really know what it means to hallow His name (Jesus)? And that’s just the introduction to the prayer. It’s like going up to someone and addressing that person by name to get his attention so that we can bring to him our request.
What does it mean to say to the Lord, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven”? Do we know what we’re saying when we tell the Lord we want His kingdom to come to Earth? What about the rest of the prayer? What are we asking when we ask the Lord to “give us this day our daily bread”? We’re not asking the Lord to give us what we want but, rather, to give us what we need — according to what the Lord says we need. What are we asking when we ask the Lord to “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”? Do we really want the Lord to forgive us according to the way we forgive others? And what about, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”? That one seems easy enough: that we don’t want to be tempted and that we want to be delivered from the evil that assaults us. But are we really ready for the Lord to do that? Do we know what He is going to do when we ask Him to do that? Now, here’s one for you to chew on. What does it mean to acknowledge that His “is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever”? What are we saying? Does His kingdom extend to every area of our lives? Does He really have the power to do with us whatever He wants to do? And, finally, do our lives reflect His glory?
The Prayer of Jesus will NOT become a cult success because it doesn’t promise what The Prayer of Jabez promises: that the Lord will reward us materially. Rather, The Prayer of Jesus calls us to sacrifice because the focus is on the Lord and allowing Him to do what He wants to do in our lives. Such surrender, such putting someone else (Jesus) ahead of ourselves, is counter to all that we have been taught to value in American society. I urge you to read The Prayer of Jesus. If for no other reason than to take a fresh look at these words of Jesus that we so often take for granted. It’s a book about prayer and about intimacy with the God we claim to serve. THAT is something we in the Church really need more than we need anything else. We are in the end-time revival and had better be ready to be completely surrendered and sold-out to Jesus or risk being set aside and left behind in favor of those who will entirely give themselves over to Him.
You want to know the secret to Jesus’ human success? You want to know how Jesus was able to be tempted as we are tempted and yet never sin? You want to know how He was able to heal and deliver and raise the dead? Then read The Prayer of Jesus because the secret is really no secret at all: it’s right there in the word of God — communication and intimacy with God. What do you think Jesus was trying to teach us when He said to go into your closet and pray in secret? What example do you think He was setting when He spent all those hours off by Himself in a secret place alone with the Father? (No, I’m not promoting trinitarianism here. Jesus, the man, was the visible form of the invisible God, but He prayed to that invisible God).
I urge you to invest the $10.00 that this book costs and let it teach you. Let the Lord speak to you through it as it directs you into God’s word.
Author, educator, theologian and scholar Rev. Chancellor Carlyle Roberts II was ordained a minister of the National Gay Pentecostal Alliance and has served as a pastor, Bible teacher and Sunday school teacher. He earned a bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies (religion and special education) and a graduate certificate in global studies and is the author of God in Three What? An Examination of the Use of Persons in the Trinity Doctrine, We Believe: A Commentary on the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 A.D., Pure As He Is Pure: My Struggle With Homosexuality and Homesick.