Day 5 – Prayer Life of Jesus
Effective Prayer Podcast, by Colin Dye
Prayer in the life of Jesus. Now if there’s anyone whom we might have thought did not need to pray, surely it would be Jesus, and yet all the Gospels make it clear that Jesus prayed. The Gospels record, time and time again, the life of Jesus’ prayer. First of all, His earthly life, we find that Jesus prayed early in the morning, late in the evening; He prayed at His baptism — that’s a very important reference, Luke chapter 3, verse 21 — “When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized, and while He prayed, the heaven was opened and the Spirit came down.”
Jesus prayed early in the morning, late in the evening, he prayed at His baptism…
So Jesus prayed at His baptism. He prayed after much ministry. Now so often when we enter a time of ministry, like we might go before a time of where we’re going to be preaching the gospel in a crusade or before a very significant series of meetings, we will spend a lot of time praying before those meetings, and Jesus did that, no doubt, but He also did that after such ministry. He prayed to see himself filled again and strengthened in the Father’s presence, to make sure that He could silence the Avenger, to make sure that after His time of ministry He would not be caught out in any way at all.
Now of course He never was, because He was walking and flowing in the Holy Spirit, but that was how He did it. An evangelist friend of mine tells me that he doesn’t pray and fast before his evangelistic missions. He prays, but his major time of praying and fasting is after his time in the mission, because he knows that is where he has to fight his biggest battles.
Jesus prayed for a whole night before selecting His twelve disciples. He prayed alone, and in the presence of His disciples. He prayed at His transfiguration—a very important passage again, Luke chapter 9:28-29—“Now it came to pass about eight days after these sayings that He took Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered and His robe became white and glistening.”
So here we have Jesus praying at His transfiguration. Is it that His prayer life was what brought out that glory, that made that revelation happen? Certainly when we pray, we are changed. We are transfigured. When we follow the example of Jesus in praying like this, the glory of God comes upon us, and that’s a way in which we can learn to move in the Spirit.
When we pray, we are changed. We are transfigured.
Jesus prayed after the Last Supper. We’ll be looking at this prayer, John 17. It’s a great example of His intercessory ministry. Jesus prayed in Gethsemane — Mark chapter 14:32, “And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’” He prayed in the agony of the garden.
He prayed for individuals like Peter. He prayed for small children. He said, “Let them come to me.” He blessed them and prayed for them. Jesus prayed at His crucifixion — Luke 23:34 — He says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Here He is, praying for others on the cross.
He prayed after His resurrection. Luke 24:30, “Now it came to pass as He sat at the table with them that He took bread, blessed it, and broke it and gave it to them.” Here He is, praying after His resurrection.
He prayed at His ascension – Luke 24:15, “And He led them as far out as Bethany and He lifted up His hands and blessed them.” Here He is praying at His ascension, and then also after His ascension. In John 14:16 it says, “I will pray the Father that He will give you another helper, that He may abide with you forever.” He was telling us what He was going to pray when He went back to the Father’s presence. And of course that was His first act as the resurrected, ascended, enthroned Lord Jesus Christ at the Father’s right hand. He asked the Father for the Holy Spirit and He was given the Holy Spirit and He poured out the Holy Spirit upon the church.
So Jesus places prayer very high on His own personal list of priorities, but then He also asks others to pray. In Luke chapter 22:40 Jesus said, “When He came to that place He said, ‘pray that you will not enter into temptation.’” He wants you to lead a life of prayer and that’s going to strengthen you in your time of temptation. And then in Luke 21:36, He urges the crowds to pray, “Watch, therefore, and pray always, that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things which will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man.”
He taught about prayer. He taught people to pray in the Lord’s Prayer. He said, “This is how you pray. Don’t pray like the hypocrites. They love to stand praying in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets. Don’t pray like that.” And He taught them how to pray the Lord’s Prayer.
He also taught about prayer on many other occasions. In Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 21, verse 22, he says here, Matthew 21:22, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” So He ends talking about prayer, and there are so many Scriptures that we could turn to to show this point that Jesus taught people how to pray and was keen to make sure that we learned how to pray.
Jesus was keen to make sure that we learned how to pray.
Do you remember how He was angry when people traded in the temple rather than prayed? He was angry. When He drove out the traders, He said, “It is written that my house, the Father’s house, this house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
That’s a quick survey of Jesus’ earthly prayer life, but His prayer life didn’t end on this earth. He also prays in heaven. He has a rich and full heavenly prayer life. In fact, that is characteristically what the Lord Jesus Christ is doing now. Think about this. This is the heart of Jesus’ prayer. Think about it. Thirty years He lived in isolation and obscurity; 3 1/2 years He lived in public ministry; but 2,000 years He has been engaged in intercession in the Father’s presence. That’s the heart of Jesus for prayer and intercession.
And so when He ascended to heaven He sat down at the right hand of the Father in that place of accomplishment and exaltation, that place of honor, authority, and power, and He prays. He still is a man of prayer. He is still the intercessor.
Romans 8:34 says, “It is Christ who died — and furthermore is also risen — who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Hebrews 7:25 says, “He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them.” These two verses reveal the eternal activity of the resurrected Christ, and as I’m saying this to you today and as you are listening today, wherever you are, whatever location you are in, whatever you are doing under the sound of my voice now, the Lord Jesus Christ is interceding for you and for me and for all believers everywhere. That is the glory of Jesus’ heavenly intercession.
Now we do need to note that as Jesus prays in heaven He has a unique heavenly ministry. Of course He lives in heaven; He doesn’t live on this earth anymore. He doesn’t literally or physically live in human hearts. We talk about Jesus in my heart and talk about receiving Jesus as Savior, and that language isn’t strictly accurate. He lived on earth in His body and, as it were, He walked this planet and did all that. We know He died and rose again from the dead. Now He’s in heaven. Rather, He has sent His Spirit in our hearts and now He dwells within us by His Holy Spirit. So the scriptural principle is that we receive the Spirit into our lives when we believe in Jesus, who rules in the heavens. But there He is, in the heavens, and in the heavenly place, at the right hand of the Father, praying for the saints. And it is an important prayer principle that He is praying for the saints.
Now most of Jesus’ prayer life is directed towards the believers, as we shall see. I’m not saying it’s wrong for us to pray for unbelievers, and certainly not wrong to pray for unbelievers to be saved, but we must understand that if we get into the place with Jesus where we need to be, that is how the unbelievers will be saved. I’m laying foundations now for what we shall see in John 17 when we shall see Jesus’ prayer, because the whole purpose of that is that the world may believe. Jesus prays for the church to rise up in unity and strength, in power and authority, that the world may believe.
Jesus prays for the church to rise up in unity and strength, in power and authority, that the world may believe.
Of course, He does pray for the nations — Psalm 2:8, “Ask of me and I will give you the ends of the earth for your possession, the nations your inheritance.” It is a prayer request of Jesus to the Father that the nations should be saved, but the way the nation is saved and the way people are saved is the church gets full of Jesus and stands together as one, and in our prayer life we know how to defeat the forces of Satan and to see the power of the gospel released, so we should watch the focus of Jesus when we pray. And so when we pray and we study any example of prayer in the Bible, New Testament or Old Testament, we should ask ourselves: Who are we being asked to pray for? Why are we being asked to pray for them? And What are we being told to pray?
Now we do need to remember this, that Jesus has a unique intercessory ministry. We cannot base our intercessory ministry totally upon Jesus’ intercessory ministry, because His intercessory ministry is unique. In Isaiah 53:12, the second part of the verse says, “And he was numbered with the transgressors and he bore the sin of many, and he made intercession for the transgressors.” This shows us a unique aspect and dimension to Jesus’ intercessory ministry. He intercedes with His blood. Jesus died as the substitute sacrifice for mankind’s sin, and in the virtue of that sacrifice, He intercedes for the transgressors, that they might be justified, that they might be set free from their sin. That is a unique ministry, but it is nonetheless related to our ministry — or, to put it better, our ministry is related to that, because on the basis of the shed blood of Jesus, we can enter the presence of God. On the basis of His heavenly intercession and of His sacrifice on the cross, we can enter into the presence of God and intercede for others. So it has a relevance to us, but more by way of qualifying us to pray for others than actually being, as it were, the sacrifice for their sin as Jesus was and as He is.
But when we look at Jesus’ prayer life and all that it teaches us, I believe there are ten principles which we can learn, and we can ask ourselves today: Are we following these principles of Jesus when we pray? Number #1, Jesus taught His disciples to pray privately. Of course, He’s talking here about personal prayer, and He says,
#1, Pray privately
When you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your father who is in the secret place and your father, who sees you in secret, will reward you openly.
So we are to pray privately. It’s talking about our motivation. We’re not trying to show off in our praying and to pray publicly in some kind of showy way.
We are also told by Jesus to agree with people when we pray, and in Matthew 18:19, it says, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done to them by my Father in heaven.” Pray in agreement with other people.
#2, Pray in agreement with other people.
He also says to keep your public prayers plain and short. Don’t try to pray using, as He says in Matthew 6:7, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” No, we keep our public praying plain and short and to the point. We’re not trying to show off or impress people; we’re trying to get through to God.
#3, Keep your public prayers plain and short
Jesus — we’re on to number #4, by the way. Would you like me to number those as we go through? 1) Pray privately; 2) Agree with other people in prayer; 3) Keep public prayers plain and short; 4) Make specific requests related to your needs. Jesus teaches you to make specific requests. Everybody look at me: When you pray, pray specifically. Don’t pray vaguely, generally. Pray specifically. If you have a specific need, be specific. That is a very important prayer principle. I am sure I know in some reasons why it’s important, because when you pray specifically for something about a need that you have that generates faith. But if you say, “Lord, give me something, sometime, somehow, as you whatever…” nothing happens.
#4, Make specific requests related to your needs
“Lord, bless me.” Which blessing do you want? “Lord, bless me. Bless John.” What of the 6,000 blessings in the Bible do you want me to use at this time? Pray specifically. Relate to your immediate needs. It’s right. He wants that.
Also number #5: Jesus taught that effective prayer is related to the way in which you forgive other people. Did you know that? Did you know that? If you want to be effective in prayer, you have to pray in a Spirit of forgiveness. Jesus said, verse 12 of Matthew 6, here it is, the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive others.” And if we don’t forgive others, then God is not going to hear us. It’s very, very important. Very important.
#5, Forgive others
Also learn that effective prayer is related to the degree to which you obey His instructions. In Matthew 7, verses 21 and onwards, it says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but He who does the will of my Father in heaven.” And the rest of the passage, you read it for yourself, it describes the same principle. In other words, effective prayer is related to the degree to which you obey His instructions. You have to walk in obedience if you’re going to see Him fulfill and give you answers to prayer.
#6, Obey His instructions
Number 7, Jesus says to go on praying and persist in praying, to persevere in your praying. In Luke 11 He speaks about asking, and the tense in the Greek goes on to say, “Ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking.” The verb there suggests continuous praying. In Luke 18:1, Jesus makes it clear that when we pray, we need to pray with perseverance. He spoke a parable that men ought always to pray and not lose heart. Ought always and not lose heart. He tells a story of a certain judge who didn’t fear God nor regard men, but a woman, a widow woman came and kept pestering him and badgering him, and he said, “I’m going to listen to this woman. Give her whatever she wants. She’s driving me crazy.” And Jesus says, “If this unjust judge does this and gives this woman what she’s asking, how much more will your heavenly Father bless you?”
#7, Persevere in your praying
Number #8, pray with a penitent attitude, not with an arrogant attitude. Humble yourself, pray with a penitent attitude, and God will hear you. And the great story of that is in Luke chapter 19, where he spoke of a parable concerning some who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous and despised others. And here it is, Luke chapter 18, verse 9, “And He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others.” Verse ten, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘I thank God,’” listen to these words, “He stood and prayed thus with himself.” He was taken up with himself. He was praying to himself, really, “‘Here I am, Lord. Look how good I am. I thank you, God, that I am not like other men: the extortioners, the unjust, the adulterers—even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector standing afar off would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner.’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, this man went out to his house justified rather than the other, but everyone who justifies himself, everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’”
#8, Pray with a penitent attitude
We don’t have to beat our breast once we’ve confessed and repented of our sins. We are His sons in His marvelous presence. But nevertheless, we don’t come with an arrogant confidence; we come in humility.
Jesus teaches us, number #9, to pray in His name. To pray in His name. John chapter 14, verses 13 to 14, “Whatever you ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.”
#9, Pray in His name
Then number #10, we are told to pray with faith. To pray believing that Jesus is going to hear and answer our prayer. Luke 17, verse 5 to 6,
#10, Pray with faith
And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree ‘be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
So when we pray, he wants us to pray in faith, mountain-moving faith, mulberry-uprooting faith.