I have organized our study in the following manner. Jesus’ prayers are grouped into five major parts:
- “The Relationship”
- “Giving Thanks”
- “Praying for Ourselves”
- “Praying for Others”
- “The Final Prayers in John’s Gospel”
Each chapter within these major groupings contains five sections: selected “Scripture”; a brief word study entitled “A Quick Dip”; “Reflecting,” which contains questions that encourage the reader to take a closer look at the text; “Diving Deeper,” which provides insights gleaned from my own prayer and study time; and “An Invitation,” which challenges us to let Jesus’ prayers enrich our personal prayer lives.
A Special Note About the “Scripture” and “A Quick Dip” Sections in Each Chapter
I have carefully researched every passage in this study and recorded my own translation of the selected Scripture. I have underlined key words and phrases in this translation and included these in “A Quick Dip.” Although this word study is based upon the original Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic language, I have tried to present both the vocabulary and grammar in a way that is easy for a lay person to understand. When appropriate, the transcriptions of the original words are listed so that lay readers can keep track of the Greek and Hebrew words being discussed. For example, aiteo and erotao are both Greek words meaning “to pray.” At times, readers need to know if Jesus is discussing aiteo (the disciples’ prayers) or erotao (Jesus’ own personal prayers). If you are a language student, the original language is footnoted for easy reference. My personal opinion is that the “Scripture” and “A Quick Dip” sections of each chapter are the heart of this book.
I highly recommend that you use the “Scripture,” “A Quick Dip,” and “Reflecting” for some private prayer time before turning to the insights discussed in “Diving Deeper.” God may very well reveal a piece of wisdom to you which would prove much more valuable than anything you would read in “Diving Deeper.” And by the same token, as you read “An Invitation,” open your heart to whatever action Jesus is inviting you to take. Maybe what you read in “An Invitation” will strike a chord; however, you may hear Jesus inviting you to try something completely different in order to enrich your prayer life. My earnest prayer is that you will allow God, not me, to speak to you through Jesus’ words and actions.
About Gender-Biased Language
Finally, I must address an important translation issue: gender-biased language referring to God. I do not want to provoke feelings of exclusion in this study. However, God sent Jesus into the world having chosen a particular place, a particular culture, and a particular moment in history for Jesus’ special mission. The culture and religion of the day were patriarchal; Jesus’ language sometimes reflects this patriarchal bias. I feel the need to neither defend nor change our Savior’s words; I seek instead to understand their deepest meaning. As you will see in Chapter 2, Jesus almost exclusively refers to God as Abba, which I translate as “Daddy.” Abba is a masculine Aramaic word. Unfortunately in our language — just as it was in Jesus’ day — we have no gender-neutral word which can define Jesus’ relationship with God in the way that Abba and Daddy do. Furthermore, this patriarchal language initiates the use of masculine pronouns in reference to God. Please do not become frustrated by these biases. When communicating with others about God, we may be bound by our current language, but as we will discover, Jesus desires for our relationship with our beloved Creator to encounter no such limitations.