The routine of Jesus’s prayer life is rich to ponder and rewarding to practice. While I’ve much to learn from the biblical texts that portray how Jesus prayed, there is far more I must do to conform my prayer life more closely to the habits of Jesus. With the disciples I ask: “Lord, teach us to pray.”
Mk 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
Lk 5:16, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
Lk 6:12, “Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”
Mt. 14:23, “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.”
Jesus often avoided human interaction when praying. There is value in solitude when praying. It . . .
- Free us from all distraction so our prayers are focused
- Challenges us to withdraw from the frenetic activity of life and engage ourselves and God
- Renews us as we confess our sin and emerge forgiven
Observing how Jesus prayed we find that he did so…
- During his inauguration into ministry.
Lk 3:21, “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened.”
- Before he made an important decision.
Lk. 6:12-13, “Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them.”
- When God’s sovereign plan is about to be revealed.
Jn. 17:1, “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.’” [Note: God’s absolute sovereignty does not hinder prayer but actually provides an incentive to pray.]
- When others were listening,
(Recall Jesus’ instructions on prayer in Mt. 6:5).
Jn. 11:41-43, “Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’”
- During his greatest need.
Mt. 26:36-44; Heb. 5:7
- Knowing his life was about to end he turned to prayer.
His last moments of freedom were spent in prayer, alone with the Father.
- Not from despair or anger but from his deep anguish over the sin of the world
(Note “this cup” in Mt. 26:39 cannot merely be death itself or the torture of the cross, but the weight of God’s wrath and the world’s sin upon Him. See 2 Cor. 5:21. Also see Is. 51:17 for “cup” associated with God’s wrath).
- In total submission to the Father
(Heb. 5:7; Mt. 26:39, “face to the ground,” “not as I will”).
- To entreat his followers to pray for victory of spirit over the flesh.
Such amazing focus that despite his agonizing distress Jesus thinks of others (Mk. 14:38)! Prayer is often the best weapon to defeat the evil one who uses the flesh as his battleground (Eph. 6:18).
(Mt. 26:44; also Lk. 18:1; Heb. 5:7).