The Prayers of Jesus: As a Child of the Covenant

prayers-jesus-jones-2019A brand new book I requested and received from Crossway publishers carries a unique title and contains a special focus – The Prayers of Jesus – with the subtitle Listening to and Learning from Our Savior (2019; 221 pp.). The author is Mark Jones, pastor of Faith Vancouver Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Vancouver, B.C.

As the title reveals, this is a study of the prayers of our Lord as contained in the Bible. And where would you start in considering these prayers? To what passage would you turn first? Before you answer those questions, consider that the author begins with a solid, Reformed introductory chapter on Christology. That’s right – a biblical, historical, and confessional study of the doctrine of Christ.

Why?, you ask. Because we cannot properly understand the prayers of Jesus without understanding who it was that prayed them and how He could pray them. We refer, of course, to the fact that Jesus prayed to His Father as the One who is fully man while also being fully God. Did our Lord need to pray, or did He pray only to give us an example of how to pray? Jones establishes the truth that Jesus, the eternal Son of God come in our full humanity, prayed out of his own deep need for all the graces His life and mission required. That opening chapter is vital for grasping the rest of the book on Jesus’ actual prayers.

But now, back to those prayers. What is the first passage you would turn to find Jesus’ prayers in the Bible? Something in the New Testament? No doubt, that is where most of us would go. But then we would miss His earlier prayers. The author properly takes us to the Psalms, and specifically Psalm 22:9-10 (look it up – his chapter heading is “Jesus Prayed from His Mother’s Breasts”). And what he emphasizes from the perspective of this Psalm is that Jesus learned to pray as a child of the covenant, indeed, as the Son of the covenant. With this in view, Jones ends his treatment of this prayer of Jesus with these paragraphs:

Our Lord came into this world with the graces needed to live out his calling as the Son of God. As such, he had not only the abilities to live in constant communion with God, but also the identity that he was someone peculiar: the God-man. Such abilities and awareness, coupled with the Father’s resolve to have his Son know him, provide us with the proper context for the prayers of Jesus and why his life was lived in constant communion with his heavenly Father. Furnished with the Spirit, his life was constant Trinitarian activity: the Son communing with the Father in the power of the Spirit. Just as he first called upon the Lord by the power of the Spirit working upon his human nature, so his last words were calling upon the Lord by the Spirit (Luke 23:46; Heb.9:14).

And he closes with this application:

We should note the importance of starting well in life: it is easier to develop patterns and habits at an early age than to pick up those habits later in life for the first time. For some this is not possible, due to their circumstances (e.g., growing up in a non-Christian household). But in believing households, children must therefore be taught to pray, by faith, as early as possible and as frequently as they are able. In Scripture there are patterns for us to follow, words for us to use to help us in our prayers. God does not expect his own Son to be left alone to figure out how to pray. Thus, he certainly would not leave us to ourselves in so important a spiritual discipline.

If one of our readers is interested in reviewing this book for the Standard Bearer (of which I am book review editor for the rubric “Bring the Books”), contact me here or by email. The review should be brief – and the book is yours if you write it.

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