Ever Wonder About the Prayer Life of Jesus?
By: AnnMarie Anderson
Busy Blessed Woman
The Bible records many aspects of the prayer life of Jesus. Isn’t it incredible that we have the amazing and plentiful record of how and when Jesus prayed?
One question I have about Jesus’ prayer life is why did he pray in the first place? He is God, after all, doesn’t he already know what the Father and the Spirit are thinking?
Why Did Jesus Pray?
Jesus was fully God; why would he need or want to pray? There are a few reasons given why Jesus prayed.
•A devout Jewish man would have an active prayer life. Jesus was fully human, so it would be natural for him to pray the many Jewish prayers that were a part of his faith practice.
•Jesus wanted to be an excellent example to the disciples and his followers (including us!) His intent was to show us what an active, intimate prayer life looked like. Speaking his prayers aloud also made sure the disciples recorded them for all time.
•Because Jesus remained a part of the Trinity, he would be able and desire to continue to communicate with them. It gives us a beautiful picture of how to remain in God’s will and receive direction, guidance, and peace. There is a certain puzzling and mysterious nature to it all, but we know Jesus prayed often.
When Did Jesus Pray?
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35 (NIV)
In the late afternoon after feeding the 5,000, Jesus dismissed his disciples and “went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” Matthew 14:23 (NIV)
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray and spent the night praying to God.” Luke 6:12 (NIV)
Jesus was also a devoted Jewish man, which meant that he would also pray the regular daily prayers at the prescribed times (the third, sixth, and ninth hours). Sabbath and other special times had prescribed prayers as well.
We see that Jesus prayed throughout the day or night. (The term “prayer warrior” is taking on a new meaning for me!)
How Did Jesus Pray?
Praying for Others
Jesus prayed for children: “Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.” Matthew 19:13.
Jesus prayed for his disciples: “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.” John 17:7 NIV
“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” Luke 22:32 NIV.
Jesus prays for all believers: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” John 17:20-21a. NIV.
Jesus even prayed for his executioners: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 NIV.
Jesus Prays for Himself
Jesus prayed for himself, specifically for His own glorification that his death and resurrection would bring to the world:
He “looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.’” John 17:1 NIV.
Jesus prayed, knowing that the Father would not answer all his prayers as he wished. That did not stop him from asking. He prayed three times for a release from his appointed task, but also prayed within His Father’s will:
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 NIV.
Related Post∼ “The Last Great Prayer of Jesus”
Praying With Others
Jesus “took Peter, John, and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.” Luke 9:28 NIV
Jesus often prayed alone, but sometimes he modeled times of coming together with other believers to pray. We see Jesus praying with his disciples in Luke 11:1, and when he finished, one of them asked Jesus to teach them to pray.
They weren’t asking how to pray- they prayed their Jewish prayers daily. They were asking him to teach them to pray as he did. Did they sense an alternative way to pray? What did they see different in how Jesus prayed? Did they appreciate a sense of deeper intimacy with God; a powerful new way to pray?
Lessons from the Prayer Life of Jesus
The best example of what our prayer life should look like comes from Jesus who spent many, many hours in prayer. We see a precious picture of the human side of Jesus depending on and communicating with His Fathers on many levels.
He integrated prayer into every aspect of his life. I’m wondering if there is anything he did not pray for? I’m encouraged to pray about everything!
While Jesus’ ministry was just over 3 short years, we see him in prayer from the time of his baptism to his last prayers on the cross.
He kept in tune with his Father’s will and purpose by spending time with him on a regular basis. Luke 5:16 tells us that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
Jesus tells his disciples (and us) that prayer is not an optional part of our life with Him. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he starts off with the words “when you pray” (Luke 11:2 NIV), not IF you pray.
We are not to save prayers for only special occasions or before meals, but as a regular practice. He desires to be in a relationship with us- and that includes spending meaningful time talking and listening to him!
Jesus modeled persistence in prayer by telling his disciples a parable “to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1 NIV. We base our persistence in prayer on a trust to wait on God’s timing.
Related ~ How To Organize Your Prayer Life
Jesus Prayed All Night
Jesus showed us that prayer is a necessity before we make big decisions. He spent an entire night in prayer before he selected his 12 apostles. (Wouldn’t you love to have heard that prayer? Did they discuss each one’s personality, how best to handle them, how to encourage and love them?)
Jesus’ prayer life didn’t cease to exist when he ascended into heaven! Hebrews 7:25 tells us that “he always lives to intercede” for us. Romans 8:34 gives us the assurance that Jesus “is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” I have no idea of what he’s telling our Father about me, but I am incredibly grateful that his prayer life continues, and it includes me!
When we put each picture of Jesus’ prayer life together, we see a collage of his intimate relationship and interaction with his Father. We too can work towards deepening our own relationship with Him through our prayers. He showed us how to keep in tune with the Father’s will and purpose for our lives.
What is a Prayer Life?
What does your prayer life look like? By definition, your prayer life is simply your own private practice of prayer. It’s the conduit you have to grow in a relationship with God and connect with Him in an ever-deepening, intimate way.
Sounds pretty straightforward and awesome, right? Then why does it seem to be so difficult and complicated sometimes?? Lucky for us, we have an amazing and plentiful record of the prayer life of Jesus himself to guide and encourage us!
Prayer didn’t come naturally to the disciples, and it doesn’t always come easy for us. Jesus’ prayer life shows us it is more about our relationship, engaging in conversation with Him, and getting to know him better each day. Use the prayer life of Jesus to encourage you to come to Him in prayer each day!
Do you struggle with having time to pray? You may be interested in this post∼ “Making Time for God with a Busy Schedule”