In my previous post, we looked at the content of Jesus’ prayers in the Gospels. Today, let’s examine the manner in which He prayed.
1. Honest Prayer
A verse that can be easily overlooked about Jesus’ prayer life is in the book of Hebrews:
“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence” (Hebrews 5:7).
Many commentators think this is referring to Jesus’ prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. Luke 22:44 recounts the experience: “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Here we learn that Jesus offered up supplications, or requests for God to work. We also see that Jesus cried out to God in desperation and agony, fully experiencing what it’s like to be human and dependent on God. Lastly, God listened to Jesus because of His reverence.
2. Secluded Prayer
“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there” (Mark 1:35).
I love this verse because it shows Jesus’ priorities. He knew the day ahead of Him would consist of so much ministry and activity: casting out demons, healing the sick, teaching the Word, discipling others. Before getting into the madness of the day, Jesus slipped away quietly to pray in a secluded area. Luke 5:16 tells us that Jesus did this often.
3. Undivided Prayer
“In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).
This verse shows us two things about Jesus’ prayer life. First, sometimes Jesus spent a significant amount of time in undivided prayer. Second, Jesus spent much time praying before He made a big decision because the next day He chose the 12 disciples.
4. Visible Prayer
“And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will’…And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words” (Mark 14:35-36, 39).
This is one of the only two places that I have found that mention Jesus’ posture while praying. Mark says that Jesus “fell on the ground.” The idea of falling on your face before God is found all throughout the Old Testament as an outward sign of humility when approaching God (Numbers 20:6). We also see that Jesus “lifted up his eyes to heaven” when praying in John 17:1, also showing His dependence upon God. It’s also worth noting that Jesus prayed the same prayer more than once, even “saying the same words.”
5. Continual Prayer
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (John 12:27-28).
This is an interesting verse where Jesus prays while in the middle of a conversation. I think this shows that Jesus’ life was saturated in prayer. He was so close to God that He wasn’t afraid to pray whenever and wherever.
6. Corporate Prayer
“Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white” (Luke 9:28-29).
Jesus didn’t always pray alone. Jesus thought it was important to pray with others, particularly those who were close to Him.
7. Encouraging Prayer
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).
Lastly, Jesus encouraged others by letting them know when He had prayed for them. Can you imagine how encouraging it would have been to hear Jesus say that He prayed for you? Wouldn’t it give you great courage, despite the fact that Satan wanted to grind you into dust?
Praying Like Jesus
To follow in our Master’s steps, here are nine applications for our own prayer lives:
1. Be honest and open with God about how you are feeling and what you are experiencing. He can handle it.
2. When you come before God, come with reverence and awe like Jesus did.
3. Find a private place to pray often, where you can get away from the noise of the world around you.
4. Schedule times of extended prayer where you focus on God alone, especially before big decisions.
5. Try using different postures that coincide with your requests and circumstances.
6. Pray for the same things more than once.
7. Don’t allow your circumstances to keep you from praying without ceasing.
8. Pray regularly with a few of your close friends.
9. Tell people that you have prayed for them to encourage them in their faith.