As Jesus was facing His own death by crucifixion He withdrew to pray. This “High Priestly Prayer” or, in my mind, the real “Lord’s Prayer” is found in John 17. You simply cannot ignore it if you want to understand how to survive and even thrive in these times of change as Jesus shakes and removes everything that is hindering His life from flowing and transforming lives.
Jesus is in the last hours of His life. Obviously He is nervous about His future date with death. So He withdraws to pray and care for His own soul. Jesus begins His prayer by putting on his own oxygen mask first – I mean, if you don’t put your own mask on first so you have life-giving oxygen then you won’t be of any help to those who will need your help (ministry). They tell you this at the start of every flight you take – before the jet takes off. The wording is almost the same regardless of the airline company. In case of a decrease in cabin pressure an oxygen mask will fall automatically from the panel above you; place your own mask on first – then help others who are travelling with you should they need your help.
So, Jesus didn’t pray for the disciples, the world, sinners, the future church – He prayed for Himself. He put His own oxygen mask on first. He knew He could not give what He did not have. He knew that in troubled times, like those awaiting Him, His only hope was in His growing relationship with God. Only God would do at this point in His ministry.
Do you pray for yourself before praying for anyone else? If asking you to pray for yourself at first seems selfish to you, then you haven’t caught the idea here yet – you can’t give what you don’t have. If you want to be an effective Christian in the midst of the major changes now taking place in the Church – you must care for yourself before you care for others.
You must nurture your relationship with God, Just like Jesus did. Being a strong believer in this time of massive shifting in the world order, the economic order, and the church worldwide means modeling a deep spiritual connection with God so that others can see the strength you have and are inspired to grow in their own relationship with God. Also, non-believers will see the peace and the strength in your life that they do not see in others and will ask you to help them to have what they see you have. This spiritual depth is the only source of authenticity and authority a Christian will have in this emerging world.
The key to spiritual life and ministry is to withdraw and spend time in prayer – not to work harder. The key is to allow enough time in the day to nurture your soul so that you have something earth-shattering to share with others.
- How much time do you spend putting on your own oxygen mask? Is it enough? If not, what do you need to rearrange in your life to find the time?
- When was the last time you prayed for yourself? How did it feel?
- How do you feel about setting your agenda for ministry rather than allowing the needs of others to set it? Does that make you feel selfish? Why?
- Make a list in your personal journal of those things that seem to be keeping you from hearing and responding to God’s call. Pray about them and ask God what you should do about them.