In His earth life, Jesus ever kept in close touch with the Father. This might be expected, for from eternity They had been coworkers, and were one in planning both for creation and for redemption. Of Christ it is written, “The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was … . When He prepared the heavens, I was there … . Then I was beside Him as one brought up with Him … .” Proverbs 8:22, 23, 27, first part, 30, first part
God Himself bears this testimony: “But unto the Son He saith, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom. … And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thine hands.’ ” Hebrews 1:8, 10
If any reader is perplexed over the statements just quoted, which attribute Creation to both Father and Son, let him find the solution in Ephesians 3:9, last part: “God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” And again, “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him.” 1 Corinthians 8:6. Christ and the Father worked together in the work of Creation.
Having worked closely together in Creation, They were now working closely together in that part of redemption which required Christ to come to this earth, and which would result in His death on the cross. In all that Christ did on earth, He was guided by the pattern outlined in heaven, which was being communicated constantly to Him by the Father. “For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6:38. “ ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.’ ” John 5:19
Even the doctrine Jesus taught, He had derived from the Father. “Jesus answered them and said, ‘My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me.’ ” John 7:16. “ ‘And the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.’ ” John 14:24, last part. “ ‘But as My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things.’ ” John 8:28, last part. “ ‘For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth … .’ ” and “ ‘For I do always those things that please Him.’ ” John 5:20, first part; 8:29, last part. The prophet had said of Christ, “The Lord God hath given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He awakeneth morning by morning, He awakeneth My ear to hear as the learned.” Isaiah 50:4
The Source of Christ’s Power
We shall not go far astray if we accept the view that in Christ’s prayer, in His communion with the Father, lay His power. When He appeared before the people, He was always calm and composed. The future had been opened to Him; He knew just what He would meet; nothing could come to Him as a surprise, and He was always master of the situation. Nathanael might in surprise ask how He knew him when they had never met before, and Christ quietly answered, “Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.” John 1:48. The woman at the well was so astonished at what He revealed to her that she completely forgot her errand and left her waterpot at the well, while she went into the city and “testified, He told me all that ever I did.” John 4:39. All His power, all His composure, all the authority of His words, all the certainty of His statements and predictions, stemmed from His interviews with His Father. His power lay in His prayer, His communion with God.
It is of interest to note that before important events or decisions, Christ spent the preceding night in the mountains with God. Before His first preaching tour He “departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” Mark 1:35, 38, 39. Before He chose the twelve disciples “He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called unto Him His disciples: and of them He chose twelve, whom also He named apostles.” Luke 6:12, 13. At the time of the transfiguration, He took Peter and James and John “and went up into a mountain to pray.” Luke 9:28. On this occasion “the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistering.” Verse 29. At the time of His baptism, He prayed. Luke 3:21. At the time of the Lord’s Supper, He prayed; in the garden and on the cross, He prayed. Luke 22:19, 41; 23:34. It may safely be said that on every important occasion He prayed, and at times spent the whole night in prayer.
These examples of Christ’s prayers demonstrate the possibilities of prayer. Jesus prayed, and even His garments became glistening. How different from our tame and lifeless prayer!
The disciples could not fail to notice that Christ had sources of strength of which they knew nothing. They would work all day long and, when night came, fall asleep exhausted. Christ would forgo sleep, going out to the mountains alone, and when He came back in the morning He was fully refreshed and ready to minister to the people again. The disciples must have wondered where He got such vitality and how He could keep up His work. He said very little if anything of His night vigils, but it must have become clear to them that there was a close connection between His nights of prayer and His days of strength. No wonder they asked Him to teach them to pray.
We have no record of what took place in those night seasons which Father and Son spent together alone. That it had to do principally with Christ’s work seems evident, but beyond this we cannot go. We know that on the mount of transfiguration Moses and Elijah talked “of His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem.” Luke 9:31. These two men had both been on earth. One had died and been raised again; the other had not tasted death. They were now discussing with Jesus His impending death. They had both been saved and taken to heaven in anticipation of the sacrifice Christ was to make, and truly represented all the saved from all ages, most of whom would taste death, but some of whom would be translated at Christ’s coming.
Beyond these few facts, we know nothing of those night seasons of prayer. They must have been precious occasions, invigorating to body as well as to soul. Christ did not always have eight hours of sleep. He did not always have regular meals. He had meat of which the disciples did not know; He had sources of strength from above.
The last few days of Christ’s ministry on earth were spent instructing His disciples and forewarning them of the events to come. He concluded His instruction with what has come to be called His high-priestly prayer, dedicating them, as well as Himself, to God. Immediately after the prayer, He went to Gethsemane.
This prayer is recorded in John 17 and contains a resume of His work. Lifting up His eyes to heaven and addressing His Father, He said, “The hour is come.” Verse 1. This was the hour that He had looked forward to with apprehension and He had even thought of asking the Father that He might be saved from it. He immediately rejected such a suggestion, saying that it was for this hour He had come into the world (John 12:27). Would He be able to glorify God in His suffering? Could He calmly face torture and death? This weighed on His mind. For this would be His hour of glory if He victoriously could meet it. All creation was vitally and absorbingly interested in this time when Christ should enter the domain of death and through death wrest from Satan his prey. For Christ this would be the supreme hour, and God would be glorified if He triumphantly passed the test. So He prayed, “Father, glorify Thy name.” God answered, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” Verse 28
The Hour Had Come
Now the hour had come that would decide the world’s destiny, and Christ prayed, “Glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee.” John 17:1. This was a prayer not for glory to the Son as such, but a prayer that God would sustain Him in the ordeal, that when the hour of darkness should come, Christ would be enabled to glorify God in His death and that through His death Satan would be defeated. Entering Satan’s stronghold to liberate the prisoners, entering alone to match powers with the evil one and overcome him and take away from him his armor would be a wonderful victory and the deciding one. Should Christ fail, it would be a victory for Satan, and Christ’s work would be in vain. Christ trembled as He thought of the momentous issues depending upon this hour, and He said, “Now is My soul troubled.” John 12:27. But receiving encouragement that God would sustain and glorify Him, He resolutely exclaimed: “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” Verse 31
Christ had so far finished the work given Him to do, and He now asked God to sustain Him in the dark hour ahead (John 17:4, 5). He assured the Father, “I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me,” and that they had received them and had believed. Verses 6–8. Then He prayed, “Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are.” Verse 11
“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name.” “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” Verses 12, 15. He prayed that they might be sanctified, and for their sakes He sanctified Himself; and then He made the momentous statement, “As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” Verse 18
This means nothing less than as Christ was sent into the world to reveal the Father, to preach the gospel, and to heal the sick, so we are sent. His prayer did not apply to the disciples only, but to them “also which shall believe on Me through their word.” Verse 20. Thus this prayer reaches to the end of time and takes in every soul who shall believe. Christ prayed for Peter. “Satan hath desired to have you,” said Christ, “that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Luke 22:31, 32. And now Christ said that He prayed for all who shall believe on Him “through their word.” John 17:20
If we take this literally, it means that Christ has prayed for us, for you, for me, for all who shall believe. And for what has He prayed?—“That they all may be one: … that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.” Verse 21. The unity of the church is here mentioned as being effective in helping the world to believe. How important then, that there be no divisions among God’s people, “all one body we.” “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35
“Father, I will.” Christ wants His church with Him, and He makes a definite demand to that end. Then He closed the prayer with the hope that “the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:26. Then came Gethsemane.
It will be noted that Christ’s prayer is concerned with others. He planned and prayed for those whom He loved. He knew what awaited Him. But even in this hour His thoughts were for others.
Prayer, M.L. Andreasen, ©1957, 159–165
[All scripture taken from the King James Version.]