Prayers of Jesus
David is the best example of variety and content in prayer, but Jesus is the ultimate example. Our omniscient and omnipotent God prayed often and fervently while in the flesh. He prayed before making major decisions. He prayed for his disciples and their future work and wellbeing. He prayed for little children. He prayed before meals. He prayed before suffering and dying. He often prayed alone, sometimes late into the night. Why would an all-knowing and all-powerful God need to pray? Why would God want to pray?
One such occasion was before Jesus selected the Apostles. “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.” (Luke 6:12-16 NKJV) Jesus later prayed for the success of their work. The prayer extends to present day believers. Jesus also prayed for us! “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”” (John 17:18-21 NKJV)
The opening of Jesus’ prayer in John 17 was a request to His Father to restore His glory now that His work was done. “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” (John 17:4-5 NKJV) All that remained was His betrayal and crucifixion. “Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.” He went a little farther, and 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. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”” (Mark 14:32-36 NKJV) No more fervent prayer has ever been recorded. “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44 NKJV)
Jesus’ prayer life certainly made an impression on His disciples. “Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1 NKJV) Jesus shared with them a model for their prayers. Prayers are respectfully addressed to the Father in Heaven. Prayers include reverence for God and acknowledge His will. In prayer, requests are made for daily needs including the forgiveness of sin which is our deepest need. Prayers acknowledge that we forgive others, a condition of our own forgiveness. In prayer we ask to be shielded from temptation and delivered from Satan.
Prayer must be offered in humility. Jesus taught this in a parable directed at the Pharisees. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or 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!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14 NKJV) Jesus prayed expressing His faith in and His love for His Father. Express your faith. Express your love. Pray.