Pray Like Jesus (Part 3)
Jesus taught His disciples to pray—in response to their request—by teaching them the “Lord’s Prayer.” But that is not the only way He imparted the need to have a vibrant and rich prayer life to His disciples—He modeled it before them. Jesus lived a life full of prayer; His ministry was marked by time spent with the Father.
There is a simple reason why the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray.
They noticed His prayer life.
They longed to pray in the same way that they had often observed their Master pray. This should be true of all of Jesus’ disciples. We should desire to pray like Jesus.
In addition to studying the Lord’s Prayer, we can look at Jesus’ actual prayer life during His earthly ministry in the hopes of learning to pray like Him. When did He pray? What did He pray for? How long? What details are mentioned in relation to His prayers and prayer life? What are the circumstances surrounding His times of prayer? Trying to answer questions such as these will help us learn to pray like Jesus.
How Did Jesus Pray?
We have already covered when and where Jesus prayed, but what about how He prayed? Meaning, what was the content of His prayers? What did He pray about? When thinking of Jesus’ prayer life, these seem like particularly important questions. If there is anything that should inform and steer our prayer lives in a certain direction, it is the answer to these questions.
God’s glory. Jesus fully understood God’s primary mission—to glorify Himself. He directly prays for the Father to be glorified in John 12 and even taught His disciples that the content of their prayers should begin and show concern about God’s name being hallowed. Jesus understood that the glory of God going forth was of extreme importance. When the world sees and experiences God’s glory, it benefits all. Being concerned with the reputation and interests of God steers us away from having a self-centered prayer life. One of our central prayers should be, “God, what can I do to make you look important to others? To glorify You?”
For Himself. There are at least two references to Jesus praying for Himself—John 17:1 and Hebrews 5:7. This should lead us to a simple but extremely important conclusion. If Jesus prayed for Himself, what makes us think that we can make it without being committed to God in prayer concerning our own lives? We can often think that if we pray about our own souls and lives that God will view us as selfish. That somehow solely praying for others is more pious and correct. Jesus teaches us that this mindset is incorrect. We can, and should, pray for ourselves. It is easy to identify the most needy person you intimately know—just look in the mirror.
For others. Jesus often prayed—and still intercedes—on the behalf of Christians. Whether it was praying for an individual believer like Peter or praying for all believers (John 17), Jesus spent time asking the Father to move in and through the lives of others. He didn’t gossip about others, He prayed. He didn’t spend time criticizing others, He prayed. And He didn’t only pray for those who had a favorable view of His divinity and sacrificial death—He prayed for His enemies. Living a life full of prayer for others helps steer us towards having a biblical and loving view of other people.
In thanks. After Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, what is the first thing He does? He thanks the Father that He heard His prayer. We should follow His example and be quick to thank the Father for all that He does on our behalf.
For the Church. In John 17, Jesus prayed that the Church would be protected, would experience unity, and that they would experience His presence. The local church is extremely important in God’s Kingdom. It represents the truth and person of Christ, gives shape to and guides the lives of Christians, and models for the world what a biblical life looks like. It is no wonder that Satan attacks churches and church leaders so relentlessly. Jesus knew the way to withstand and be victorious comes through prayer.