– E. M. Bounds
Jesus Did the Will of the Father
Jesus told the disciples–and really He tells all believers–that “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Since “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37), nothing is all that is possible without Him. Jesus once said that “the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing” (John 5:19), so even the Son of God did nothing of His own accord but always did the will of the Father. However, since Jesus was on earth and the Father in heaven, how would He know the will of the Father? It was by prayer, no doubt, and knowing the Father intimately that He knew what the Father’s will was in a given situation. Jesus knew the importance of prayer, and, as was His custom, “he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12). This was because “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).
What is Done Without Prayer?
What can be done without prayer? Nothing substantial at all on the human level, but without God and praying to Him, we can really do nothing at all. Just as without prayer we can do nothing of ourselves, neither can we do anything apart from Christ. This is why Paul wrote, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:12). Now if we can do all things through Christ, Who will strengthen us, then the opposite must also be true–that is, we can do nothing without Christ, without His strengthening us. Paul said, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength” (1 Tim 1:12). “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor 12:9). If we can do nothing apart from Christ, and since we know that Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Luke 22:69), then we can do nothing apart from Christ and apart from prayer.
Why the Command to Pray?
Why would Jesus command us to pray always and Paul say the same thing? It is because they both know we can’t do anything without praying. Imagine that you need something from someone and you go to them and don’t say a word. Do you think they’ll give you what you need? No, because how would they know what you need if you don’t tell them verbally? I understand that’s a bad analogy because God even knows what we’re thinking, but if we don’t ask, we surely won’t receive (James 4:3). Jesus was clear when He said we “always ought to pray” (Luke 18:1).
Surely we have read enough Bible verses that prove that we can’t do anything without praying. Why is it so hard to pray? Perhaps it is because we are experiencing a spiritual battle while we pray. Maybe we have unconfessed sin and it puts up a mental roadblock before us and God. If we confess our sins, He will forgive us (1 John 1:9), so why not pray to God right now about what’s on your heart? He is there waiting for you to talk to Him, and He knows as well as we do that we can’t do anything until we first pray.