Ø “Looking toward Heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves, He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.” Matthew 14:19
Ø “And looking up toward Heaven, He blessed the food.” Mark 6:41
Ø “Looking up to Heaven, He blessed them.” Luke 9:16
Ø “Having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated.” John 6:11
Giving thanks to God for the food provided by a young boy is the one common denominator in all four Gospel records of the miracle of The Feeding of the Five Thousand. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John revealed Jesus asked God’s blessing on the food before distributing it to His disciples to pass on to the people.
John’s account provides keen insight into the mind of Christ, and shows how His process always had a purpose. The Son pointed seekers to The Father as the source of their provision.
“A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick.” (v. 2) Jesus asked Phillip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that they may eat?” (v.5)
“This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was going to do.” (v.6)
Jesus always does. Saying the blessing, giving thanks, or saying grace are all expressions of one of the earliest forms of prayer taught to a child. Children are not born with a streak of gratitude, but an attitude of entitlement. Wise parents teach their children to thank God for their food, but don’t stop teaching their children how to pray, until their prayer life matures and develops into so much more. But I digress.
Three of the Gospel accounts record that Jesus looked towards Heaven, before He prayed. The Bible does not mince words, nor does it waste words. Words mean things. Looking towards Heaven is not a throw away line, but a lifeline to the source of answered prayer, The Father in Heaven.
When Jesus was asked by His disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray,” He began with the words, “Our Father, who art in Heaven.” Jesus turned to The Father in believing prayer whenever His life, and ministry was on the line.
The Father’s children will follow His Son’s lead into the arena of believing prayer, and look toward Heaven. If their lives reveal no heart for prayer, they do not have the life of Jesus in their hearts. Full of themselves, and not of His Spirit, prayerless people do not look toward Heaven, but wander into the tall grass searching for man-made answers to man-made problems. Prayerlessness never ends well.
"Most Christians pray sometimes, with some prayers and some degree of perseverance, for some of God's people. But to replace 'some' with 'all' in each of these expressions would be to introduce us to a new dimension of prayer." John R.W. Stott
"…Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18 ESV)
Jesus placed His disciples, in an impossible situation, ON PURPOSE. This reveals the mind of Christ, the heart of God, and the purpose of prayer. Prayer is not about pleading with God to provide fair weather for the church picnic. Prayer is about turning the impossible into the HIMpossible.
“God’s purpose for your life is to knock you, out of you.” “Wild Bill” Stafford
The sooner God’s people get on board with what The Father has in mind for His children, the sooner they will embrace prayer as part of His process for maturing them, not pampering them. Jesus knew exactly what He was doing when He asked one of His disciples to meet the needs of 5,000 people. Jesus knew the score. He was looking for His disciples to get into the game. He still is.
Panic may not be the purest motive for believing prayer, but it is a great motivator for it. Coming to the end of a rope is not a call to make more rope. It is a call to prayer. Jesus knew Phillip was aware of prayer as a ritual, and a sign of the righteous on feast days. He just didn’t believe prayer was the breath of life every day.
Jesus brought His disciples face to face with reality, and pointed their eyes to The Father. The miracle of the Feeding of the 5,000 was not the distribution of fish and bread, but the grace of God flowing into an impossible situation in the form of answered prayer.
“Peace is the blessing of believing prayer.” Don Miller
Recently, I walked my 92 year-old father back to his room at his retirement center. He softly spoke these words to me. I can’t put them into context, except to say, they were on his heart, and they came out of his mouth at a time I needed to hear them. Thanks, Dad.
When faced with an impossible crisis, a difficult choice or an exasperating person, even believing prayer may begin in real panic, but it leads to real peace. Peace does not come from the answer to a prayer, but from the blessing of The Presence of The Father in the midst of the crisis, the choice, and the contrary. Where there is prayer, The Father is there.
Jesus faced the impossible, by turning to The Father in prayer, and thanking Him for what He had already provided. A small boy’s lunch was an unlikely source for a great miracle. God sometimes delivers His greatest gifts in very small packages. A baby in a manger was The Father’s signature statement on this truth.
The attitude of gratitude releases the favor of The Father to step in and to do more than a prayerless person could ever imagine. Jesus prayed, and The Father spread His favor, and the disciples fed the people. Believing prayer turns panic into peace, and the impossible into the HIMpossible. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!