Being a person of prayer
Introduction to the Week
This week’s study takes us into the private life of Jesus, his repeated seeking of times
and places to be in prayer. Jesus as a man of prayer is particularly a theme of the Gospel
of Luke, so we will stay within that Gospel all of this week, to get a feel for how Luke
develops a sense for this intimate dimension of Jesus’ life. As Jesus’ followers, we learn
how to pray by staying close to him and watching how his prayers shape him as a
person and shapes the ministry that flows forth from him.
Monday: Prayer, identity, and mission
We begin at the beginning, at Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River by John.
• John has been proclaiming a challenging message, that the time has come for the
people of Israel to intensify their faithfulness through repentance and
renewed commitment to the demands for justice contained in the Torah.
• As the crowds ask him what will be required of them, John emphasizes the
need to share with the poor and to live by the highest ethic possible in each person’s
context (Luke 3:1-17).
• The strength of his proclamation made people think that perhaps John was the
Messiah, but he makes clear that he is only preparing the way for the true Messiah
of God. Then Jesus approaches . . .
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized
and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the
Beloved; with you I am well pleased (Luke 3:21-22).
It is only in Luke’s Gospel that Jesus is portrayed as praying in the moments after his
•It is in the openness of his prayer to God that Jesus senses the powerful descent of
the Holy Spirit upon him, and God’s complete claim on him: “You are my Son, the
Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
•Pay attention to the double affirmation here: God loves the being of Jesus entirely
(“my Beloved”). And God also proclaims divine favor on the things the Son has
been doing (“with you I am well pleased”).
•The true son of God is a person who, like the eldest son in traditional families,
carries forth the work of the father in the world.
•As God’s Son, Jesus carries forth God’s work in the world, and God is full of
pleasure at that.
•The New Testament authors assert time and again that, as Jesus’ followers, we are
also adopted into this double claim on us: God’s deep love of us and God’s
pleasure when we further God’s reconciling work in the world.
One of the most important outcomes of prayer is that we realize this double claim of
God’s favor, and it becomes active upon and through us.
•All of Jesus’ ministry unfolds from this realization that grew from his prayer.
•All of our life, our decisions, actions, and our realization of our dignity in God’s
sight likewise derive from our prayerful reception of God’s favor towards us.
Questions for Reflection
•What have been your most powerful experiences of prayer thus far in your life?
Are there repeated patterns in your prayer life?
•Consider yourself as an adopted “son” of God (Yes, even if you are female. The
metaphor depends upon an ancient sense of the role of the eldest son). What
practices of prayer might help you to live more deeply into God’s love of you and
God’s pleasure in response to your actions?
Gracious God, you are the hearer of all of our prayers, spoken and unspoken. Help
me, in all my prayers, to receive the goodness of your love of me as well as your
encouragement to carry forth your work in my world, as your beloved child. I pray
this in the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.