Posted: 06 Sep 2011 12:00 AM PDT
By Jon Walker
When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites! They love to stand up and pray in the houses of worship and on the street corners, so that everyone will see them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. (Matthew 6:5 TEV)
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“Christian prayer presupposes faith, that is, adherence to Christ. He is the one and only Mediator of our prayers. We pray at his command, and to that word Christian prayer is always bound.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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Bonhoeffer notes that Jesus is proof that God wants intimacy with us. Jesus came to create a bridge to God, and we become intimate with the Father through Jesus.
This is a problem when we pray in pride. Prideful prayers set us up to be false mediators between others and God. They slyly say, “Look at how I pray. Watch me and see how persuasive I can be with God.” They suggest we have a special connection with God independent of our connection through Christ. That encourages others to believe our prayers have more meaning before God than their prayers, when the truth of the Bible is that anyone connected to God through Jesus can approach the throne of grace boldly (Hebrews 4:16).
Bonhoeffer says, “[Jesus] is the one and only Mediator of our prayers. We pray at his command, and to that word Christian prayer is always bound.”
This is the reason we pray in the name of Jesus and why eliminating the name of Jesus from our prayers is a significant theological issue.
It is important to note, then, the distinct difference between being an intercessor for others and any arrogant attempt to be a mediator for them. We do not connect anyone to God; Jesus connects them to God. But Jesus calls us to intercede on behalf of others, standing beside them and sometimes instead of them as we fulfill the law of Christ by carrying the burdens of others to God in prayer (Galatians 6:2).