“But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” John 17:13
It is that time of the year when we rightly celebrate not merely the works of men but of God who has worked through such stalwarts of the faith to bring the Church back to the Bible. In his book, “The Necessity of Reforming the Church”, John Calvin stated that the two areas needing to be corrected or reformed were worship and salvation. The Word of God was at the forefront of this necessary reform. Calvin’s aim, as was true of all the reformers, was to reform worship of the living and true God according to the Word of God. And while we normally think about and talk about the “doctrines of grace” or the “5 solas” of the Reformation, we can easily forget that for most reformers, worship was in desperate need of correction. Thus, Calvin gives correctives for worship in his book, beginning with prayer. Calvin explained the problems in prayer and the correctives the reformers made. Prayer was admittedly a big deal to not only John Calvin but all of the Reformers. In fact, prayer is a major element in need of emphasis and reform. We might even say that reformation is not simply about correcting some problems in the form and content of such a means of grace or element of worship but that reformation is also about recovering the very Biblical practice of it. In his famous “Institutes of the Christian Religion”, Calvin considered prayer to be the chief exercise of faith. Recovering the Biblical emphasis of prayer is the work of Reformation and is a perennial need.
While we need constant exhortations to pray, puritan pastor Anthony Burgess sets forth the “High Priestly prayer” of our Lord and Savior as a constant encouragement to pray. This encouragement to pray is reform the Church needs today. Burgess preached some 145 sermons on the prayer of Jesus in John 17. Joel Beeke writes: The Lord offers this prayer in the presence of His disciples so that those who hear it (and later, those who read it) might be filled with joy (John 17:13).”
“This prayer of Christ may be compared to a land flowing with milk and honey, in respect to that treasure of consolation which is contained therein… Seeing therefore this is such a fountain for healing and refreshing, come with a spiritual thirst to be replenished thereby. Seeing here is the honey and the honeycomb, do not with Jonathan taste a little honey only, but eat freely and abundantly thereof. Thou wilt by a serious and constant meditation find this heavenly matter in Christ’s prayer make thee heavenly also, and assimilate thee into his own likeness. How vain and empty will all the glory of the world appear to thee, when thou shalt be lifted up upon the Mount of Transfiguration! They that live under the torrid zone never feel any cold, and thou who shalt find this prayer of Christ active and vigorous in thy breast, wilt never have cause to complain of that dullness, formality and coldness which many others groan under.”
The Reformers recovered the Biblical practice of prayer and have reminded us that our prayers are only possible and acceptable to God because of Jesus. Our Lord and Savior not only brings us into fellowship with God but shows us the way of fellowship through prayer. Let the love, work, and practice of Jesus fill you with all joy and encouragement to take hold of God in prayer.”