When I started this journey to discover how to pray, I had no idea where it would lead. I began with the premise that if becoming like Jesus is the Father’s aim for us, then if we want to learn to pray…we should pray like Jesus did.
Surprisingly, Jesus spoke a lot about prayer. He covered a full range of topics – from praying for enemies to what it would be like for His disciples to pray “In Jesus’ name”. Jesus warned us about praying with the wrong motives, said that how we forgive others will affect our own prayer life, and told us to watch out for leaders who make long prayers for show.
However, there were two qualities of How Jesus prayed that stood out even more than What Jesus taught about prayer.
The first major observation was that throughout the gospel accounts, we found that He was heading off to quiet places to spend time with the Father in prayer. Whether the crowds were large, or it was only Him and His disciples…Jesus set aside chunks of alone time for prayer.
Matthew 14:23 After dismissing the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone.
Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there.
Luke 5:16 Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.
Luke 6:12 During those days He went out to the mountain to pray and spend all night in prayer to God.
The second major observation was found in Jesus’ main focus when He prayed. From the beginning of His model prayer to His ‘High Priestly’ prayer found in John 17, we found that Jesus was consistently focused on the Father. His primary concern was the Father’s plan and the Father’s glory. Jesus’ aim was to increase the Father’s glory – which means to enhance the Father’s reputation and honor in the world, and this was primarily achieved as Jesus completed the mission that the Father gave Him to accomplish.
If we imitate Jesus in these two ways, we are guaranteed to grow closer to the Father. We become what gaze at. Therefore, spending chunks of our time focused on the Father’s desires and glory will certainly lead us to act, think, and relate like Jesus.
Lastly, as Jesus was dying on the cross, His final cries to the Father found their root in Scripture. I find it extremely interesting that when everything was a bad as it could get, Jesus’ prayers were direct quotations from two different Psalms.
This final observation will direct our next steps after this study on the Prayers of Jesus. If we are going to pray like Him when it seems like everything goes wrong, we need to be prepared. As such, we’re going to look at a couple of psalms and find some spiritual truths that we can grab on to.
For now, though, our best course of action is to purposely dedicate some time with the Father to focus on His glory and His mission.