What keeps Jesus praying all the time?
Jesus always has been and always will be an Intercessor. This is part of His eternal identity in the Godhead. It’s the same as breathing- you don’t have to think about it or feel like doing it, it’s just what you do. Did you ever think about the job title Jesus was given?
What’s the difference between “praying” and “interceding”? Praying encompasses various methods described in scripture- supplication, thanksgiving, meditation, adoration, communion, declaration, and I am sure there are more! (I have written a curriculum for children to teach them these six types of prayer you can get here.) For a long time, I thought intercession and supplication were the same thing, but I now see they are slightly different.
Supplication can be described as, “presenting your requests before God…” (Philippians 4:6). Often, these can be burdens on our heart, our prayer list for friends and family, or crying out for nations that are on our heart. But the word “intercession”, at least in a handful of verses referring to Jesus’ role, seem to have a deeper meaning that demands action on behalf of the intercessor. This is as opposed to asking God to take action. In the case of intercession, the verb “intercede”, is an action in itself.
"to obtain by hitting the mark" – properly, "light upon (meet with), obtain; "to go and meet a person to converse, consult," i.e. to intervene ("intersect with"). The tygxánō means "to strike, hit the bulls-eye" ("spot on"). Accordingly, it is used in classical Greek as the antonym of harmartia ("to miss the mark, sin").”
This is intriguing because in the case of intercession, there is petitioning, even pleading or begging in some translations, which require that two parties are consulting together. Intercession is to “make a deal” with, to appeal in a way that the parties come to an agreement. This is why intercession is laborsome. And more than that, as a priest, it requires “hitting the mark”. What is even more interesting is that there is another important word in Hebrew that also means “hitting the mark”, Torah. Follow me here for a few moments…
Hitting the mark
The word “Torah” is usually translated “law” in the Christian Bible, but the root word for Torah is “yarah”, which is “to shoot an arrow” or “to hit the mark”. So, you see it is about “aim”, practice, following a sense of direction toward perfection. Not to be confused with religious legalism. What’s more is that the word “sin” literally means to “miss the mark”. So here we see Jesus, the great high priest practicing Torah, and we can be certain He did not miss the mark! Now let’s put these two things together…
Jesus, the great high priest, demonstrated by His nature and identity that intercession is practicing Torah, and the work of aiming, practicing, petitioning, and appealing to the heavens is the target.
This then begs the question; if Jesus is fully God, why is He spending time appealing to the Father, or the Spirit for that matter? Could it be that the Godhead (all three, not just Jesus) actually enjoy the constant communion and work of intercession? I mean, it must be satisfying. It must fulfill the heart of God or Jesus wouldn’t continually and forever engage in this activity.
Because Jesus is the Great High Priest, and because the Father fulfilled the longing in His heart by creating mankind, there is love and enjoyment in interceding on behalf of sinners- passionately pursuing us and praying that our faith would not fail. (Luke 22:32) His passionate desire for us is revealed in enjoyable intercession!
One final thought
As we see that intercession is work, work which Jesus happily loves to do, and that it involves more than Himself, I would also consider that when we spend time in intercession, we feel different than other types of prayer. In this form, we are working together with God, working hard, like diplomats. We are listening to His heart, sharing our heart, finding where He is leading, aiming our ‘arrow’ at the mark- engaging heavily with the Godhead. Intercession is not one-sided, it is the real work of the priesthood which we were all called. (1 Peter 2:9)