Very diffidently introducing a series on prayer to the discussion/house-group at Holy Trinity, I found myself pondering how Jesus would have prayed with his disciples.  Liturgically in the synagogue, one assumes, but what went on when they were together as a group?  Did he teach them extempore prayer as well as the Lord’s Prayer?  Can you teach it anyway?

One of the insights we had was that the kind of extempore prayer that is often found in prayer groups actually uses Biblical and ‘customary’ phrases that are learned from study or the prayers of others.  That does not make it any the less spontaneous, but it does draw that kind of prayer closer to ‘liturgical’ prayer. 

The other thing we rejoiced in was that you cannot privilege one sort of prayer over another as more ‘authentic’ or ‘better’.  Silent meditation can be torture for extraverts, and long liturgical prayers can make ‘doers’ twitch with impatience.

So ‘what would Jesus pray’?  Really?

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2 Responses to wwjp?

  1. That’s a really interesting question! It seems that the Gospels agree that, whatever else he did, Jesus spent time alone in prayer. They also seem to assume that prayer is, to some extent, teachable. I wonder if Evagrius and the early desert tradition were onto something with their use of short phrases of scripture, perhaps repeated over and over. Even if that was not Jesus’ own practice, it’s not a million miles away from aspects of the Synoptics’ take on Jesus’ vocal prayer (‘into your hands…’, ‘my God, my God…’, the responses in the wilderness temptations).
    But I’m sure you’re right that, whatever we can try to reconstruct of Jesus’ own prayer, it would be wrong to privilege one way over another.

    • alisonpeden says:

      Yes, Jesus must have been steeped in the Scriptures and they would have arisen naturally in his prayer. I’m now thinking about his encounter with the Syrophonecian woman in preparation for Sunday, and wonder if her wresting with him is a kind of model for prayer – the same sort of prayer Jesus himself experienced with God in Gesthemane?

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