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Biblical Prayer

  Alleluia Nutrition acknowledges that Prayer and Meditation are an important part of nutrition since man is tri-partie: body, soul and spirit.  These three work together and thus need to be discussed. 

    When dealing over the internet it is important to give a scholarly foundation that can be generally accepted and since the Bible is the foundation for many religions we will build upon a biblical basis.   The following is taken from Jim Tibbetts book: Meditation, the Jesus Prayer and Alleluia Praise!   It gives a basic understanding of biblically based meditation, prayer and praise.

Prayer of the Heart - Biblical  Foundation 

     The oldest form of Christian meditation comes from the early church and is written about from the desert fathers.  It is called, the Jesus Prayer or the Prayer of the Heart.  It is on the holy name of Jesus.  The mention of the word ‘name’ referring to God occurs numerous times in the bible, here are the New Testament quotes emphasizing the ‘name’ of Jesus.

 Mt 1:21; 1:23; 1:24,25; 10:22; 12:18,21; 18:5; 18:19,20; 19:29; 28:19; Mk 9:38-41; 16:17,18;  Lk 10:17; 24:46,47;  Jn 1:12; 2:23; 3:18; 14:13,14; 14:26; 15:16; 15:20,21; 16:23,24,26; 20:31;  Acts 2:21; 2:38; 3:6; 3:16; 4:7,8,10,12,17,18; 4:29,30; 5:28,40-42; 8:12; 9:14-16; 9:21,27,29; 10:43; 10:48; 15:25,26; 16:18; 19:5;  Rom 1:5; 10:13; 1 Cor 1:2; 1 Cor 1:10; 1 Cor 6:11; Eph 5:20; Phil 2:9,10,11; Col 3:17; 2 Thess 1:12; 2 Tim 2:19; Heb 1:4; Heb 6:10; Heb 13:15; Ja 5:14; 1 Pt 4:14; 1 Jn 2:12; 1 Jn 3:23; 1 Jn 5:13; Rev 19:12,13,16; Rev 22:3,4.

     When we look at the list of the use of the ‘name’ of Jesus it is clear that percentage wise Acts has the most usage as a single book.  Acts is the history of the early Church and the name of Jesus, the name of God was a key activity in their lives.

     Meditation on the name of Jesus is perhaps the oldest form of Christian meditation.  The invocation of the name of Jesus may be used alone, “Jesus,” or used in a phrase.  In the Eastern church the commonest form is: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.” (Mk 10:48)  Other invocations may be used: Jesus thank you, Jesus I love you, Praise you Lord Jesus, Jesus have mercy, etc.

     The shortest, simplest and perhaps the easiest is the word “Jesus” alone.  Thus, by the invocation of the Name is meant the devout and frequent repetition of the Name of “Jesus.”  The Holy Name is the meditation. 

     The name of Jesus may be either pronounced verbally or silently thought, mentally.  The invocation may be practiced anywhere and at any time. (Ps 52:9)  Besides the free used of the name throughout the day, it is good to have a regular meditation time. (Lk 6:12)  One may walk, or sit down, or lie, or kneel.  The best posture is the one which affords the most physical quiet and inner concentration. (Mt 6:6)  Ask for the inspiration in guidance of the Holy Spirit.  (1 Cor 12:3) Begin to pronounce the Holy Name with adoration and love.  (Phil 2:9-10)  It can be best to start out saying the name slowly, softly, quietly and think of the person Jesus.   The presence of Jesus is the real content in substance of the holy name which we should respond to. (Mt 2:11)

     The name of Jesus brings us more than his presence. (Ps 54:1)  Jesus is present in his name as a Savior, for the word “Jesus” means just this: savior or salvation. (Ac 4:12)  Under this name we find the mystery of atonement. (Jn 1:29; Rev 13:8)  Through the name we find union which is the “I in them” of Our Lord’s priestly prayer. (Jn 17:26)  Thus, we may enthrone His Person within us through the name, (2 Chr 20:8)  “that Christ may dwell in your hearts.” (Eph 3:17)

     The name brings power (Ac 1:8), strength (Zech 10:12), healing (Sg of Sg 1:3) and deliverance (Mk 16:17-18), and “signs and wonders.” (Ac 4:29) 

     Peter gives three requirements to those first converted: “You must repent,” “be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins” and “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  (Ac 2:37, 38)  To grow in the invocation of the Holy Name is to grow in knowledge of the “Spirit of his Son.” (Gal 4:6)  We meet in the name of Jesus the whole company of the Saints (Rev 22:14) and the angels (Lk 1:31).  In the name, all things are gathered together in the heart of Jesus, (Eph 1:10) who filleth all in all. (Eph 1:23)

     Where two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, He is also there in the midst of them. (Mt 18:20)  His name is used for witnessing (Ps 22:22) and a sacrifice of praise. (Heb 13:15)  “So that at Jesus name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: Jesus Christ is Lord!”  (Phil 2:10,11)

 Prayer, Meditation and Praise in the Bible 
     Meditation often leads into prayer and becomes part of it.  In the monastic tradition they identify meditation as one of the steps on the ladder to contemplation.  Reading seeks for the sweetness of a blessed life, meditation perceives it, prayer asks for it, contemplation tastes it.  Meditation goes to the heart of the matter and perceives God’s Word. 

     Some of the major prayers in the Old Testament include: Gen 4:26;  Ex 15:1-18, 19-21;  Num 6:24-26; 11:11-15; Dt 3:24, 33;  Jos 10:12-14;  Jgs 5, 13:8;  1 Sam 2:2-10;          2 Sam 7:18-20;  1 Kgs 3:3-14, 8; 2 Kgs 20:2-6; Tb 3, 13; Est 14;  Jdt 9, 16;  Is 12f;  Hb 3:17f;  Jer 11:18-12:6, 15:10-21; 17:12-18; 18:18-23, 20:7-18;  Jer 31:31-33;  Dn 3:1-68;   Sir 38:24-34;  Tb 8:5-9;  Job 23:8-10.   
     In the New Testament Jesus is the perfect model and teacher of prayer and meditation.  Jesus was brought up in a devout home,  Lk 2, cf 4:16,  where we find the Magnificat of Mary, Lk 1:46-55,  “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” and the benedictus of Zachary.  Lk 1:68-79.   Jesus prays regularly in the Synagogue.   Jesus finds strength in meditation and praying before dawn or all night  Mk 1.35  

     His prayers in solitude also include Mk 6:46, Mt 14:23, Lk 3:21, 5:16, 6:12, 9:18, 9:28f.  In Lk 6:12, “He went up into the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God,” thus Jesus went beyond the Jewish practice of liturgical prayer three times (three hours) a day (Dn 6:11, 14; Ps 55:17, Ac 3:1, 10.;3, 30).  Along with praying three times a day, twice a day the Shema’ was recited, which is considered the basic creed of the Jewish faith, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might...” Deut 6:5-7. 

     This tripartite structure is found with variations in Mt 22:23; Mk 12:30, 33; Lk 10:27.  The divergences in the three synoptic evangelists are because the Lord’s Prayer and Prayers of Intercession and Thanksgiving (1 Th 1:2; Phil 1:3-6; Rom 1:9f; Col 1:9; cf 2:1-3) (Didache 8:3) replaced the Shema’ in the early Christian churches.  

     The Lord’s Prayer was a fixed prayer which is a brief summary of Jesus’ proclamation; ‘Father’ first person, two petitions in the second person concerning the matters of the heart, two petitions in the third person concerning the here and now in the soul, and the last petition for strength from temptation in the present and the future.  

     During these three hours of prayer “as his custom was,” Lk 4:16, his meditation was on Yahweh, “Lord of Heaven and earth,” Mt 11:25 (cf Ex 23:6, 15, 16; Gen 14:19, 22).  Yet the Aramaic “Abba,” which is a colloquialism originally stemming from the language of children, is nowhere attested in Jewish prayers.  Thus a new way of praying and meditating is born, the invocation of God as “Abba,” coined by Jesus in the Lord’s Prayer, Mt 6:7-13; Lk 11:2-4.  An expression of his consciousness of his mission, Mt 11:27, to his cry from the Cross, Mk 15:34, invoke Abba. 

     Jesus thanks His Father for revealing His kingdom to “little ones,” Mt 11:25-30, and for having heard him, Jn 11:41.  Jesus talks to his Father as naturally, as intimately and with the same sense of security, as a child talks to his father in his great “High Priestly Prayer” - for his disciples and all of us in John 17.  Jesus acts as our understanding intercessor, Heb 4:14-16 and teaches us to “Ask ... Seek ... Knock,” Lk 11:9-13 and to have perseverance in prayer: “Pray Always,” Lk 18.  Jesus is present where “two or three gathered together” in Him, Mt 18:19f.  Jesus’ prayerful command, heals the sick, expels demons, raises the dead and controls nature in Matthew 8 and 9 and parallels.  And in prayer “Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said: ‘I offer you praise, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth ...,’” Lk 10:21.  Jesus was transfigured, “while he was praying...,” Lk 9:28. 

     During his passion, Jesus prayed during the Passover meal and instituted with thanksgiving the Holy Eucharist, Mt 26:26-30; Mk 14:22-26; Lk 22:14-20.  Jesus prayed with such intensity that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood, Lk 22:44.  “Abba (O Father), you have the power to do all things.  Take this cup away from me.  Not, however, what I will but your Will be done,” Mk 14:36.  Jesus prayed for Peter, Lk 22:31, (and for every Christian who denies the Lord.)   Jesus prayed for those who crucified him, Lk 23:34, and to the Father while on the Cross, Mt 27:46; Mk 16:34; Lk 23:46 - “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” 

     The apostle Paul prays for the Christian community, 1 Thess 1:11f, and gives thanksgiving for his brethren, 1 Cor 1:4-9.  Paul prays for abounding love and spiritual discernment, Phil 1:9-11, and for the strengthening of disciples, Eph 3:11-21.  Paul prays a benediction, Gal 6:16, and a doxology, Phil 4:20.  And Paul ends his letters with a prayer, “May the God of peace make you perfect in holiness.  May he preserve you whole and entire, spirit, soul and body, irreproachable at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thess 5:23 . 

     “The One who gives this testimony says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon!  Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all.  Amen!”  Rev 22:20, 21. 

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