Learning from the Prayers of Jesus

Some Christians are surprised to learn that the Gospels don’t record that many of Jesus’ prayers. We seem to have more content about when and how Jesus prayed, as well as what Jesus commanded his disciples to pray.

But there is still much to learn from the prayers of Jesus that we do have!

The Prayers of Jesus

Let’s start with Jesus’ longest recorded prayer in John 17. Jesus first asks that the Father would glorify the Son, and then prays several things for the disciples:

That they would be kept and protected (John 17:11,15).

That they would be full of joy (John 17:13). 

That they would be sanctified (John 17:17-19).

That they would be unified (John 17:22-23).

That they would be close to God (John 17:24).  

That they would experience God’s love (John 17:26). 

The rest of Jesus’ prayers are quite short in comparison. After rebuking cities for not repenting despite His great miracles, Jesus prayed:

I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will” (Matthew 11:25-26). 

Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He prayed:

“Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:41-42).

When Jesus was discussing His purpose of coming to die, He prayed:

“Father, glorify your name” (John 12:28).

The night before His crucixion, Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane:

“Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36).

After discovering that the disciples were sleeping instead of praying, Jesus went back and prayed the same thing again.

While suffering on the cross, Jesus uttered three prayers:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46).

Lastly, there are a few places where we don’t know Jesus’ exact words but we know what He prayed for. Jesus asked that Peter’s faith would be kept from failing (Luke 22:32) and Jesus would often give thanks for God’s provision (Matthew 15:36).

So what can we learn from Jesus’ prayers?

Praying Like Jesus

Here are a few principles from the prayers of Jesus that we can incorporate into our own prayer lives:

  1. Jesus addressed God as a loving Father.
  2. Jesus addressed God as Lord over all.
  3. Jesus prayed short and long prayers.
  4. Jesus prayed for the spiritual wellbeing of others.
  5. Jesus prayed that believers would experience God’s love.
  6. Jesus prayed for God’s glory to be demonstrated in His life.
  7. Jesus thanked God for physical and spiritual blessings.
  8. Above all, Jesus prayed for God’s will to be done.



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