Recently, a Christian friend who posted on one of his social media pages recounted his ordeal while recuperating from an illness – a seemingly slight headache. He said during that period, he could hardly pray for the pain to go away because his spiritual being was at its lowest ebb; weak, and feeble.
He ended the post by dropping a pity note for sinners and backsliders who plan to repent on their sickbeds or at the last moment before death beckons on them. Those people may never get the chance they hoped for because their spiritual self which is carried by the physical self lacked the strength to do so.
To heaven-bound Christians, this underscores the need to pray “in all season, without ceasing”. Convinced that God is powerful and in control, believers go to Him in prayer, entrusting their total lives into His omnipotent hands.
Jesus sets a clear example, “In the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35). He didn’t wait for a more convenient time to pray but chose a time of the day when “sleep is sweetest”. He knew that to carry out a spiritual exercise, He needs spiritual backup which can be gotten through prayer.
The Bible records many aspects of Jesus’ prayer life. Why did He pray? Since He is fully God, why would He need to pray? Did He need to pray in order to make the right decision? Our finite minds can not quite grasp the reason He prayed, but we do know that He does so to be closely connected to the Trinity.
Meanwhile, regardless of why Jesus prayed, there is much to learn from His example.
Jesus’ Prayer is a Model for Believers
Christ is a tremendous model for us in prayer. As the eternal Son of God, He prayed out of His divinity, a display of communion with His Father (John 10:30). Being one with the Father, there is no reason to be surprised that the Son communicated with the Father. In that sense, Jesus’ prayer life is rooted in His divinity. But not only that, He prayed out of His humanity as well – serving as a model for us of what dependence on the Father looks like.
Prayer demands solitude.
It is noteworthy that in Luke 6:12, Jesus got away from the crowd in order to pray. He sought a quiet place. Though there is no command in the Scripture to pray in solitude, we should take to heart the model of our Saviour. We should make it a personal discipline to disconnect from the world before we speak to the One who made the world.
Prayer is Necessary.
If you really want to, you can’t be too busy to pray. Most of us, much of the time, feel as if we are too busy to pray. We have to sleep, after all. We have to work. We have to take care of the kids. We have to have some time off, don’t we? And when all those things we have to do are done, there is hardly any time for prayer! At least that’s what we tell ourselves. And yet, the truth is that we need prayer as surely as we need sleep and food and rest. Each of us relies on God, and we demonstrate this reliance by praying. Jesus had the weight of the world on His shoulders, yet He prayed. How much more should we?
Prayer has a Purpose.
Jesus had real work to do. Apostles must be chosen. A Church must be established through these disciples, and so He prayed. When we pray, we ought to know what needs to be accomplished. We pray to adore the Father because he is worthy of all adoration. We pray to thank God because an attitude of thanksgiving is a mark of every true believer. Finally, we pray for supplication, asking God to provide because we know He cares about what we need. This is what it looks like for us to pray with a purpose.
Prayer is effective.
Jesus prayed because He knew no decision is outside the will of God. But having prayed, Jesus acted. He stepped out and selected the men He believed best suited to do the work He needed. And so it is with us. We pray, because we know that God is sovereign. And then we act, trusting that God will guide our steps (James 5:13-18).
Stay Focused during Prayer
Although prayer could often be strenuous, we must keep at it. Jesus continued to pray all night. He once rebuked His disciples for failing to stay awake and pray (Mark 14:37). Since He was fully man, He also felt the need to sleep and rest. Yet He believed it was more important for Him to stay alert and pray. What makes us think that our prayer life should be easy? Persistence ought to be the hallmark of every believer’s prayers. We are to plead with God faithfully, fervently, and passionately.
As a devout Jewish man, Jesus had an active prayer life, which is an excellent example to His disciples and us, His followers. He intends to show us what an active, intimate prayer life looked like. Speaking His prayers aloud also made sure the disciples recorded them for all time.
Let’s also draw out some elements from Jesus’ prayer lifestyle.
1. He prayed early in the morning (Mark 1:35), late in the evening (Matthew 14:23), and all night (Luke 6:12)
2. He prayed for little children (Matthew 19:13), for His disciples (John 17:9), for a specific person (Luke 22:32), for all believers (John 17:20), for His executioners (Luke 23:34), and for Himself (John17:1).
3. He prayed, knowing that the Father would not answer all His prayers as He wished. And that did not stop Him from asking. Thus, He asked for the Father’s will to be done. (Luke 22:42)
4. He prayed with others (Luke 9:28), but often times alone (Matthew 14:23).
5. He taught others (His disciples) to pray (Luke 11:1-13).
6. He spent many hours in prayers and kept in tune with His Father, His will and purpose, on a regular basis (Luke 6:12) and integrated prayer into every aspect of His life, including mealtime or before performing a miracle.
7. Jesus’ prayer life didn’t cease to exist when He ascended into heaven. The Scripture reveals that “…he ever liveth to make intercession for [us]” (Hebrews 7:25).
Brethern, do you struggle with having time to pray? Prayer didn’t come naturally to Jesus’ disciples and it doesn’t always come easy for believers. It is important to note that we do not save prayers for special occasions, like the lent season, before meals or when sick, but every time. Prayer is not an optional part of our life.
Need help with prayers, feel free to contact the Leadership of the Young Professional Forum and we will provide help.
God bless you as you create time for this spiritual exercise.