Prayer Never Prayed
Originally scheduled for May 3
Much of the prayer life of Jesus Christ is
recorded for us in the New Testament. There is a sufficient
biography of this that we may draw some conclusions from the things
for which Christ never prayed.
For example, we know that Christ prayed
fervently for his release from the pain and suffering of the
crucifixion. It is obvious that Christ did not wish to suffer this
way, was in great fear of the pain and agony of the Cross, and
therefore asked his Father to relieve him of the anxiety and then
the pain of the Cross. It is interesting to note that while Christ
prayed frequently to be relieved from the dread of the Cross, but
this was never contradicted by his Father. From that, we may assume
that his prayer was in accordance with being fully human and not
sinful. The pain of such prayer denied was amplified by the fact
that his three best friends couldn’t stay awake long enough to be of
any comfort to him in his hour of trial.
It is seldom remarked upon, but I think it is
important: Jesus Christ never prayed about the Resurrection. He
never asked God to give it to him; he confidently predicted it. You
will recall his remark about tearing down this Temple and in three
days he would build a new one — clearly prophetic of the
resurrection. He regarded the coming Resurrection as a future fact.
But, as we can see from his prayers, that fact was of utterly no
consolation whatsoever. Sometimes people think that Christ must’ve
known that he would rise from the dead, and therefore this wasn’t
such a big deal, the Cross. That is utterly false. As the Scriptures
make plain, he dreaded and feared the Cross. And not once did he
make the light appeal of asking to be tided over with courage on the
grounds the Resurrection would come so soon. So how does he overcome
his fear? By his obedience to his Father. True courage consists of
looking the fear in the face and deciding that you will do the right
At communion we celebrate the sacrifice of
Jesus Christ. Interestingly, we do not celebrate both the sacrifice
and the Resurrection — just the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.
Even the elements of communion speak to the sacrifice, not to the
Resurrection. The bread represents his body, broken. The cup
represents his blood. There is no symbol of the Resurrection. Even
in the Old Testament forerunner of communion, the Passover, there is
no sense of anything being celebrated except the sacrifice of the
Lamb which protects the ancient Jew from the angel of death.
The Resurrection is the central fact of the
Christian faith. As C. S. Lewis once remarked, Christianity can
almost be reduced to one fact and one doctrine. The fact is the
Resurrection. The doctrine is redemption by grace. For this reason
alone there is no reason at all for us to be prompted to celebrate
the Resurrection. But we do need to be reminded to celebrate the
sacrifice which made it possible. We have a tendency to focus on the
warm and positive things and put behind our backs those things which
are miserable and dirty. The sacrifice of Christ should not be
relegated to a back room closet. We need to be reminded that Christ
went to the Cross for us.
It is an exercise of memory; the string around
the finger. We remind ourselves of those things which we are apt to
forget — including the sacrifice of Christ.