Tolle Lege: “The Prayers of Jesus” by Mark Jones

My husband and I both lost our mothers within the past couple years.  They were praying women.  And they were daughters of praying women.  Their home-going left an intercessory void in our extended families that I have been struggling to fill.  Mark Jones’s book, “The Prayers of Jesus (Crossway, 2019),” couldn’t have come at a better time.  I picked it up hoping for an exposition on the what, when, and wheres of Jesus’ prayers, a how-to-manual for bowed head and bended knee.  Jones delivered on none of that.  

What he DOES deliver is so much more valuable than a treatise on how or even why we should pray.  This book is all about the who.  Jones invites the reader to view The Prayers of Jesus as a portal into the divine and human nature of our Lord.  It is a deeply Christological confession of the One who made it possible for us TO pray.  If you want to get to know Christ, the man, the Messiah, and the eternal Mediator of a better covenant, what better place to tune your ears than into His most intimate conversations, the Son’s own words to God the Father?

I turned to page one wanting to know how to pray better.  I finished the book loving Christ more for how He made it possible for me to pray at all.  I wanted to know exactly what Jesus prayed about so that I could pray for the same things.  Instead I’m praising God that EVERYTHING Jesus prayed for has and will be eternally fulfilled through His own person and for His own glory!  I came to this book with a long list of people to pray for and left in utter gratitude that Jesus, the perfect High Priest is interceding for me, now and forever!  

This last theme runs throughout the book but Jones does an especially beautiful job in chapter 13 fleshing out the details of Christ’s intercessory work on our behalf.  He gets a little help from a few other theologians (D.A. Carson and John Owen among them), in this section worth quoting here.  Referring to the two aspects of Christ’s priesthood, sacrifice and intercession, Stephen Charnock said, “The oblation provides the intercession, and the intercession could not be without the oblation (115).”  These two aspects are joined together in Thomas Manton’s comparison with the Old Testament high priest’s yearly entrance into the Holy of Holy’s bearing the names of the 12 tribes of Israel upon himself. “So Christ is entered on behalf of us all, bearing the particular memorial of every saint graven on his heart (116).”  Jones continues, “In heaven, our Lord applies the benefits of his life and death to the church that he purchased with his blood (116).” 

In John 17:9-10 Jesus prays for all those who bring him glory. After describing what the marks of those whom Christ prays for will be, Jones makes this observation:

“Christ possesses a natural glory as very God of very God.   He also possesses a peculiar glory as the God-man, the visible image of the invisible God.  But besides those two glories, he possesses a third glory:  the glory that comes to him from his bride.  This depends not upon us (part of his creation), in the final analysis.  The glory certainly comes to him through us because he prayed for us to bring glory to him (117)… God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit —all one God—will make sure that the church glorifies Christ (118).”

Wow!  If I am Christ’s it is only to bring Him glory.  And if I bring Him glory it is only because Christ’s sacrifice and intercession make it possible.  I am Christ’s and He is glorified in me BECAUSE He prayed and continues to pray that it will be so!

Jones concludes with these words and I will as well,

“The King of glory prayed on his way to glory, where he ever lives to pray for the saints.   We can be so thankful for the prayer life of Jesus.  There is no hope without it, but every hope because of it (203).”

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Even though I was provided with a free copy of this book from the publisher, I am not required to write a favorable review.

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