Just this morning I read a heartbreaking thread from a young woman on Twitter who has decided that prayer is pointless and she has stopped praying as a result. Not cut back. Stopped. Completely. Several others chimed in with some form of, “Yeah, me too. Gave up praying years ago.”
I’ll admit that I struggle with prayer for many of the same reasons those in the thread enumerated, but I still choose to pray. It is not that I believe in “the power of prayer,” so much as I believe in the power of the one to whom I pray. What he does with my prayers is up to him, not me.
In sharp contrast to the heartbreaking prayer abandonment of the women mentioned above, Jesus was deeply devoted to prayer. If ever there was a man who could have survived this life without investing in prayer, Jesus was that man, yet he was persistent in his prayers, and taught persistence in the practice of prayer.
Jesus prayed in Matthew 15 before he fed the multitudes.1 He prayed before breaking the bread at the last supper with his disciples.2 Jesus prayed all night long prior to choosing his twelve disciples to become apostles.3
But there is one prayer Jesus prays, a prayer of thanksgiving, that elicits a sort of “Huh?” reaction from me. That prayer is in Luke 10 and Matthew 11.
At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for doing so was well pleasing in Your sight.”
– Luke 10:21, NASB
At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well pleasing in Your sight.”
– Matthew 11:25-26, NASB
The same prayer is recorded in both places, giving emphasis to its importance.
The statement from Luke notes that Jesus rejoiced, and I believe he rejoices that the gospel message is advancing, rather than that it is “hidden from the wise and intelligent.” The mystery that was hidden from the foundations of the world was now revealed to babes.
There is a level of humility that must accompany one hearing the gospel of Jesus and taking that message to heart. We must humble ourselves before he can lift us up.4
I like the way Matthew Henry expressed this.
… they were revealed to babes, to those who were of mean parts and capacities, whose extraction and education had nothing in them promising, who were but children in understanding, till God by his Spirit elevated their faculties, and furnished them with this knowledge, and an ability to communicate it.5
The glorious reality of salvation in King Jesus, forgiveness, eternal life, the favor and provision of the God of heaven … these profound realities are easily understood by the simplest among us, even by children, though they are befuddling to the “wise and the prudent,” even rejected by them as incomprehensible nonsense.
Objections and scoffing abound from highbrow society. Those who entrench themselves there do not understand because they cannot understand. The things of God are spiritually discerned and thus rejected by the “natural man.” All the while, the “infants” simply hear, believe, and are redeemed.
“Yes, Father, for doing so was well pleasing in Your sight.”
1. Matthew 14:19, 15:36
2. Luke 22:19
3. Luke 6:12-16
4. James 6:1, 1 Peter 5:6
5. Henry, M. (1857). Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume. (p. 1857) Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing Group.