A comedian once said, “When someone says they talk to God, we call it prayer. When they claim that God talks to them, we call it schizophrenia.”
The fact that the comedian missed is that when people pray, God is most apt to speak.
More than any of the other Gospel writers, Luke connects times of prayer to God’s revelation of his nature and agenda.
Praying with Jesus
What do you think the disciples felt, as they listened to Jesus pray and felt the power that transpired between Father and Son?
Luke records a time when the disciples were exposed to Jesus’ prayer.
–– Luke 9.18-20 – Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.”
It is not a mere coincidence that Peter understood Jesus as the Messiah, during a time of prayer.
Peter and the other disciples still had a long way to go before they fully understood the nature of Jesus as Messiah, but they were on the way.
Dallas Willard has written a book about the conversational nature of our relationship with God.
He points out that a relationship has two sides. We speak and God listens. God speaks and we listen.
If this interchange of information and emotions does not take place, we don’t have a real relationship.
There are times when I receive poor service in a checkout line and think to myself, “You could be replaced by a machine.”
Self checkout is a convenience that I often use, but not with God.
God is not a machine, where we put in the right amount of change, pull the lever, and get what we want.
God is a person who wants to interact with us. He wants to hear us, but also wants to speak to us.
If we are not praying, we are missing out.
Another Prayer Meeting Revelation
A little more than a week after Peter declared to Jesus, “You are the Messiah,” they had another prayer time with Jesus.
–– Luke 9.28-29 – Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.
And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.
Jesus had earlier told the disciples, “There are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9.27).
I imagine a circle of three disciples and Jesus in prayer. While Jesus is in prayer, the other three see the absolute reality of God’s kingdom in the shining face of Jesus.
In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross talks about times when God’s presence was so real to him during a time of prayer that there was powerful sensation.
When we pray, God shows up because he desires relationship with people that is real and personal.
God Uses Humans
The next two verses of Luke’s account amaze me.
— Luke 9.30-31 – Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him.
They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
If you wonder how much God has invested in humans, the involvement of Moses and Elijah in a discussion about the crucifixion and resurrection is quite enlightening.
I am amazed that God cares so much about people that he involves humans in the greatest decision of all of human history.
God did not use one of the heavenly host to speak with Jesus. He used Moses (the giver of the Law) and Elijah (representing the prophets) to discuss Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem.
The disciples came to a prayer meeting, but had a life-changing encounter with God and his agenda.
Too Much to Handle
I had a life-changing encounter with God while mowing the grass of our family’s home. While I was mowing and praying, God told me that he wanted me to be a pastor.
That event changed the course of my life for the next 50 plus years.
I was able to keep on mowing and praying on that day in 1968. The disciples’ experience was so powerful that it was more than they could handle.
— Luke 9.32-33 – Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.
Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” — not knowing what he said.
When John saw Jesus in his heavenly glory he wrote: “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1.17).
Peter and the other disciples had a similar experience.
Peter didn’t know what to say, so he talked to Jesus about building dwellings for Moses, Elijah and Jesus.
I doubt if readers of my blog will experience such awesome experiences of God’s glory this side of heaven. However, we should expect to encounter the Lord in a significant way.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5.8).
As we place our full trust in Jesus, we open the door for communion with God in a real and personal way.
God’s Stamp of Approval
At Jesus’ baptism, the Father spoke from the heavens, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3.22).
In the midst of a time of prayer, God once again revealed the true nature of Jesus.
— Luke 9.34-35 – While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”
I have emphasized prayer as a place where God communicates with people, because that is what he does.
The question for us is whether we regularly pray or not. I hope this article motivates us all to spend more time both talking to God and listening to him.
Rudy Ross and I discuss the Transfiguration of Jesus (Luke 9.28-36) today. Rudy will describe his experiences with God in prayer and talk about why Moses and Elijah were important to the discussion.
The video is on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.