Pray Like Jesus.
When we look at the life of Jesus, we see a very natural, honest, faith-filled connection with the Father. A prayer life that was both intentional and organic and consistently expressed trust in the presence and faithfulness of God.
So how can we pray like Jesus prayed?
In emulating Jesus, there is one thing we should always be mindful of, and that is that we cannot copy and paste the practices of Jesus without the power of His presence. It’s only ever by His empowering grace that we get to live like Jesus lived, or pray like Jesus prayed.
Authentic prayer starts with authentic faith in the cross.
But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
It’s at this point that we realize that there’s nothing keeping us from having unbroken fellowship with God. As Jonathan Edwards once said:
“Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is to life.”
So if you believe that Jesus died for you, prayer will be the most natural expression of that belief.
1. Jesus prayed when he didn’t have to
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. Mark 1:35
In the gospels we often see Jesus praying proactively. In other words, not just in response to some crisis or trouble, but intentionally in planned and structured times of prayer.
If you’re like me, you may have struggled with this.
I’m regularly conflicted by my need for structure and at the same time my desire for authenticity. However God once gave me the picture of a young plant, bound to a stake, as a way of helping me to manage this tension. When a plant is tied to a stake in the ground the life is not in the stake, but in the plant. However, without the strength and support of the stake the life-filled plant will struggle to grow in the right direction, and fulfill all of its potential.
This understanding has helped me to implement structures and systems in my life, my walk with God, and my church without feeling like I’m losing the “heart” of it all. Instead I’ve begun to see how being intentional in these ways actually enhance, strengthen and protect the sincerity of my faith. Allowing me grow all the more.
So don’t be afraid to schedule times of prayer and fellowship with God.
2. Jesus prayed when making key decisions
And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles. Luke 6:13-14
Jesus spent all night in prayer before choosing the twelve apostles.
Too often in life we depend on our own human judgement when making important decisions instead of asking God to lead us. The benefit in asking God for guidance is that He already knows everything. He knows all that lies ahead, and His will for us is perfect.
This is why James encourages us in the following way,
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15
It’s a prideful place to be in when we think we can take on the future without God’s guidance. Instead we should train our souls to trust in God and allow Him to speak His peace and guidance to our hearts.
So next time you’re facing a big decision, don’t forget to pray.
3. Jesus prayed when leading others
So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” John 11:41-43
Jesus didn’t need to pray here. He knew that the Father had already heard him. However, in order to inspire the hearts of those around him, “that they may believe”, He prayed out loud.
This is a great example to all of us that are leaders of any kind – moms and dads, husbands and wives, church or connect group leaders, employers or coaches – we can lead and inspire others through public prayer.
In doing so we show those we lead that we depend on God for our strength, bringing glory to His Name.
4. Jesus prayed in times of pain and frustration
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. Matthew 26:39
When Jesus faced pain and frustration, he didn’t feel the need to keep himself from expressing these frustrations to God.
Think about the fact that when it came time for Jesus to do the very thing he was born to do, he asked God if there could be any other way! On the cross he even shouted, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” echoing the prophetic words of David in the Old Testament who was known for his honest prayers.
Personally, I love the fact that I can tell God how I’m feeling. That I can be honest regardless of what others may expect of me. Because I know that beyond my frail and flawed words, my heart trusts in a God who is sovereign and who specializes in working all things together for good.
Next time you’re facing a difficult situation, don’t try to pray the “right” prayers, instead just pray honest ones. Our God hears, understands, and is always close to those who are brokenhearted.
5. Jesus prayed for others
But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:32
Jesus often prayed for others. Not only for his followers and his loved ones, but also for his enemies. As the Roman Soldiers nailed him to the cross he prayed,
“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
Jesus understood that one of the greatest ways to love and serve someone is by praying for them.
As believers we too are called to pray for our loved ones, our city, our government, and our enemies; even for those who may persecute us. Knowing that God is able to turn every heart.
So let’s pray like Jesus.
More than that, let’s trust like Jesus.