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We’d like you to meet our friend, Janet Holm McHenry, the author of The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. (And my friend who wrote Prayerwalk, and got me started on my daily prayerwalking habit.) Janet is also on the team of National Day of Prayer, held each year on the first Thrusday of May. (Learn more about how you can participate here) Janet is on of our prayer warrior friends, and we appreciate all of her many books on prayer, and we valued her book, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus: What Jesus Prayed and How It Can Change Your Life Today, because Christ is the ultimate role model for learning to prayer. Here is our endorsement:
“Janet McHenry, in The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus, has made the prayers of Christ come alive, and she has also laid the path for all of us to pray, and see answers to prayer, by learning a Christlike model that can draw each of us closer to the heart of our Creator, Abba Father.”–Pastor Bill Farrel and Pam Farrel, co-directors of Love-Wise, authors of 58 books including Men Are Like Waffles–Women Are Like Spaghetti, The 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make, and A Couple’s Journey with God
We’ve asked Janet to share an excerpt so we can all be motivated to pray this week, by looking at Christ’s heart for prayer. Let’s step back and follow Jesus as pictured during his time on earth:
From his spot at the head of the table, Jesus looked around the dimly lit room. Peter’s wife and mother-in-law stood wiping the cooking pot and bowls near the fire. He had grown fond of them as well as their offering each evening of well-seasoned fish and lentil stew, sopped up with a hearty chunk of bread. For months now his Capernaum hosts had spread mats on the floor each evening around the rough-hewn table in the small main room for him as well as Peter, James, John, and a handful of other followers. Though the others were talking quietly—occasionally glancing over at Jesus to ask a question—a tension was building inside of him. He had to meet with his Father.
As Jesus stood and walked toward the door, the others looked up but did not protest his leaving the relative warmth of the small stone home in the dead of winter. They understood. He often withdrew to quiet places to pray.
Jesus stepped out into the darkness, covered his head with his white linen head covering, and pulled his woolen upper garment around himself more snugly. The cold evening air smarted on his uncovered hands and sandaled feet. But at least the streets were quiet. When the sun had fallen late that afternoon, the crowds of people seeking a healing touch or even just a word from Jesus had slowly disbursed. They would seek him out the next day…and the next…and the next. Their needs were never-ending, like the lapping waves on the nearby Sea of Galilee.
The water moved in darkness to his left, but his evening’s meeting place was in the hills to his right. Jesus headed toward a well-worn path up the mountain’s slope with much on his mind and heart. His teachings and miracles were drawing attention. Seekers were listening to his interpretations of the law in the synagogues in the various towns throughout Galilee, but the Pharisees were beginning to challenge him.
When he forgave the sins of the paralytic man, the Pharisees said he was speaking blasphemy—considered the most serious sin because it was a curse of God. When his followers gleaned some grain in local fields after the harvest, the Pharisees accused him of dishonoring the Sabbath, a day set aside solely for worship of the Lord God. Even worse, when he healed a man with a shriveled hand on the Sabbath, they grew furious and began plotting against him.
Clearly, his ministry would come to an end soon—and he needed his Father’s guidance. Who would carry the message of life-giving grace when he was gone? More than a hundred were following him on a daily basis as he traveled from town to town. Yet who among them should be his disciples?
One man—a teacher of the law—had even said,
“Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
Another follower had said he would follow Jesus but “first let me go and bury my father.”
“Follow me,” Jesus replied, “and let the dead bury the dead.”
He knew that the challenges he was facing paled in view of the Cross ahead. Would any chosen disciple follow him, pray for him, understand his calling and purpose, and remain faithful after his death?
His Father would know.
After about a trek of about twenty minutes, Jesus reached a mountainside spot away from the sounds of the city. He turned toward Capernaum, its home fires barely visible under the cloud-covered moon. And he prayed….
Then he fell silent, listening for more than the wind or the hillside animals or the lapping waves below. He would stay and listen for his Father’s words…and he would know which twelve should be his apostles, the message bearers of lifesaving truth.
Eventually night turned to dawn, the sun rising behind the mountains east of the Sea of Galilee as a brilliant golden ball surrounded by an aura of orange that filled the sky and warmed the blues of the sea. Jesus raised his arms toward heaven, thankful to the Father for hearing him and for speaking into his heart, mind, and soul.
A short time later he slipped back down the mountain into Capernaum, stepped through Peter’s door, and shared morning bread with the drowsy disciples. And he announced the names of the chosen Twelve—one of whom would eventually betray him, one of whom would deny him, and all of whom would temporarily turn away in just over a year’s time.
But peace rested on Jesus’ countenance as he looked among the group of ordinary men that included fisherman, a tax collector, a revolutionary, a quibbler, and others. Because he had spent the evening in prayer and would continue to pray through the rest of his days on earth, he could rest in the confidence that his Father was guiding Him step by step in his walk to the Cross.
Apply: What is the next step in you developing your own prayer life?
~Excerpted from The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus: What Jesus Prayed and How It Will Change Your Life Today, © 2018 by Janet Holm McHenry (Bethany House)
Learn more about National Day of Prayer , May 4, 2023