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From the Fall 2010 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

The Jesus Prayer

by Bill Smith
Director, C.S. Lewis Institute Atlanta

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  We know that God does not tempt us because he wants us to stumble (James 1:13), but he does sometimes lead us into and through trials on our life journey, as he did with Jesus when God led him “into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt. 4:1–12). Jesus, our example, prayed to be delivered from the agony of the cross but entrusted himself to the Father. Likewise, we should pray to be delivered from the testing brought about by living in an evil world even as we recognize that whatever God plans or allows comes from the hand of our Father in heaven.

We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven—a senile benevolence who, as they say, “liked to see young people enjoying themselves,” and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, “a good time was had by all.”  —C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

  In conclusion, the Jesus Prayer is centered on knowing God as Father. It also teaches us that the experiential knowledge of God as Father is a privilege that is open to all who come to him through Jesus our mediator. Next Jesus teaches us that knowing God’s fatherly love should motivate us to desire that the Father’s goodness and greatness be known throughout the whole earth. Having experienced the blessed rule of our loving Father, we want others to experience the kindness, mercy, and love of God.
  Jesus, being the truth-teller that he is, also discloses to us that the coming of the kingdom of God in this age does not do away with disappointments, pain, temptations, and injustices, and so forth. Because of unfulfilled hunger (physical and spiritual), we are told to pray for ourselves and others that the Father would give us this day our daily bread. Because this age is also filled with sinful actions (our own and those of others), we must pray that the Father would forgive us our debts, and we must forgive others. Finally, we are taught to recognize the providence of God in the trials we experience. Prayer is the cry of God’s children who live in the tension that is created by our experience of God’s fatherly care and the frustration of our human experience in this broken world. Thus it is in the context of prayer that we are made more like our Savior who taught us to pray. 

1. George Gallup, Jr., and Timothy Jones, The Next American Spirituality (Colorado Springs: Cook, 2000), p. 76.

Bill Smith is the Director of the C.S. Lewis Institute Fellows Program Atlanta. He is also founder and president of On the Way Ministries, an equipping ministry devoted to renewing the mind, engaging the heart, and encouraging community. Bill teaches in a variety of contexts in order to help men and women to know God in a deeper way and develop practical wisdom for every area of life. Bill lives in Duluth, Georgia, with his wife, Lisa, and two daughters Jessica and Jana.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  Knowing & Doing is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.
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