What are the main characteristics of Jesus’ prayer life? This is a very difficult question to answer as the Holy Scriptures don’t have that many details on the prayer life of Jesus Christ. But, still from whatever little information that is available in the Gospels; I am making a very humble attempt to look into His prayer life in order to understand some of its outstanding characteristics.
As you know, prayer is an important component of our Christian life. It is the main line of communication between us and our Heavenly Father. Except prayer we have no other means to enter into the Throne of Grace in Heaven.
Jesus, while walking up on the face of this planet earth maintained a very effective prayer life and it played a very significant role in everything He accomplished through His Ministry.
However, His prayer life was quite different from the prayer life that you and I are familiar with or that we are taught to maintain by our Spiritual Leaders.
In fact, Jesus’ prayer life had certain unique characteristics that our prayer life does not have and we will be examining some of them here.
1. Lord Jesus always Prayed alone.
Yes, Lord Jesus always prayed alone. During His three and a half years of public ministry, we don’t see even once Jesus leading a prayer session in public, something similar to the ones that our churches or Ministries do.
When He was with the crowd, He always focused on teaching the Word of God and sharing the Good News of His Heavenly Kingdom. His attention was always on meeting the spiritual and physical needs of the people around Him.
However, when He really wanted to pray, He withdrew himself to lonely places where He spent time in communion with His Heavenly Father.
Lord Jesus never used public meetings and venues to conduct prayer sessions or to pray with the crowd. As you know Jesus was with the multitudes every day but He never prayed with them.
Though, the mighty miracles that Christ performed in the midst of the crowds required great spiritual strength; we don’t see Him praying in public to receive that great strength. Instead, He preferred to pray in private.
During the day He was busy with the crowds teaching and healing them; but at night he departed to lonely places and prayed alone. He went on His knees and prayed to His Heavenly Father to fill Him with the strength required for the next day’s miracles.
Furthermore, He did not allow anyone to be around Him while having that close and personal communion with His Heavenly Father. He spent long hours, even whole nights alone in prayer; communicating with His heavenly Father and refilling Himself with Heavenly Strength. The mighty miracles that He performed during the day was the result of spending time on His knees during the night.
Each time when Jesus came to Jerusalem for Ministry work, He did not spend the night there, instead He went all the way to Bethany for rest and prayer. For example; before driving out the Money changers and merchants from the Temple courts; the previous night He spent in Bethany. Probably spending the whole night in prayer and refilling Himself with strength in order to undertake the great task of cleansing His Father’s House of robbers.
So, Jesus’ prayer life was basically very personal and He did not share with anyone what He prayed about or prayed for. For Jesus, prayer was not just making requests but staying in fellowship with His Heavenly Father and consequently He spent long Hours alone in Prayer.
Of course, when you love someone, definitely you will spend long hours with them. This is what actually happened in Jesus’ prayer life too. Since He loved to be in communion with His heavenly Father, He spend long hours in prayer; sometimes even the whole night.
Similarly, we too should view prayer as a time of fellowship with our Heavenly Father and it will help us to spend more time with Him without feeling bored. Prayer is not about making known to God our daily needs but it is all about spending time with someone that we love with all our heart.
Unfortunately, many Christians have misunderstood the purpose of prayer and many think – it is all about making requests to God. Not only that; many believers also spend a lot more time praying with others than praying alone.
As a servant of God or as a disciple of Christ; what you accomplish in public is directly linked to your secret prayer life. If you pray more in secret, you will accomplish more in public.
The main reason why your spiritual life turns fruitless is – you spend very little time in secret prayer.
2. Jesus Spent time in Prayer before making Important Decisions.
Yes, Lord Jesus spent hours and days in prayer and fasting before making important decisions. For e.g., before beginning His public ministry, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying.
9At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
12At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted g by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. 14After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” ( Mark 1, 9-15)
Yes, after fasting and praying for forty days; Jesus was spiritually empowered in order to begin His Public Ministry and He heads to Galilee in the Power of the Spirit to begin His work.
Again, in Luke 6 there is another example of Jesus spending time in prayer a whole night; and this was before choosing the 12 disciples to assist Him in the Ministry.
12One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles. (Luke 6, 12-13)
As you see in the above verses, the previous night – the night before choosing the twelve disciples; Jesus went out into a mountain side and spent the night praying to His Heavenly Father. I think, Jesus might have been seeking His Heavenly Father’s will regarding the choosing of the twelve disciples.
Saints, if Jesus prayed long and hard before making important decisions, then, how much more should we, His disciples, pray before making important decisions in our lives; either personal or Ministry related!
Unfortunately, many of the shepherds and sheep in the Christian world make many important decisions based on their personal preferences and not according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The reason why many of our endeavours fail is – because we don’t pray and seek God’s will before undertaking those endeavours.
3. Jesus never made long and lengthy prayers in public.
Yes, Jesus never made long and lengthy prayers in public which was very common in Israel during His days. The pharisees were the masters of this and Jesus criticised them for their hypocrisy.
14‘Wo to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye eat up the houses of the widows, and for a pretence make long prayers, because of this ye shall receive more abundant judgment. (Matthew 23, 14)
Yes, the pharisees of those days were the masters of making long and lengthy prayers in public in order to show that they were holy and righteous. However, Jesus who could see their inner hearts found them to be hypocrites. Jesus severely criticised them for their pretentious lifestyle.
Moreover, He also warned His disciples not to be like those Pharisees. Instead, instructed them to pray in secret.
5“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6, 5-8)
Unfortunately, many of us, believers in Christ, never heed what Christ taught us in the above verses about prayer. Like the Pharisees, we are also good at making long and lengthy prayers in public. Most of the time our prayers reflect our fear and anxiety rather than our trust and confidence in God Almighty.
If we examine the content of our prayers, we could find that they are more about bread and butter than about the things concerning the Kingdom of God. Also, our daily prayers are mostly about ourselves and not about others. Sadly, our prayers are basically about getting our “Will” done in our lives rather than getting God’s will fulfilled in our lives.
4. Intercession was an Important Component of Jesus’ Prayers.
Yes, intercession was an important component of Jesus’ prayers. He always spent time interceding on behalf of those who followed Him, including His disciples. Also, He had a great passion to intercede on behalf of the world. The best examples of this can be found in John 17, in which we see Jesus, before His imminent departure from this world, offering prayers on behalf of the disciples and also for those who would believe in Him through the teachings of the disciples.
15My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17Sanctify them by d the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (John 17, 15-19)
20“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. ( John 17, 20-21)
Again, Luke 22, 32 gives us another example of Jesus interceding on behalf of Peter. Here, Jesus already saw in spirit the need for Peter to be strengthened in his faith so that he won’t fall away due to the spiritual assaults of the devil.
Though, Peter did not see the need for prayer; Jesus saw his vulnerability and kept him covered in His prayer.
31“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”( Luke 22, 31-32)
Saints, this is how Jesus took care of His disciples and this is how He takes care of us, His children. His focus is always on us and He continually intercedes on behalf of us to His heavenly Father. It is because of His grace that we are standing where we are standing. Satan would have pushed us down long time ago if the Grace of Lord Jesus was not with us.
Also, here we have an important lesson to learn; that is – We all, though we are believers in Christ, are still very vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy from the unseen realm. Therefore, we need to intercede on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ, so that their faith would not fail.
Saints, this is not just my idea – I am just repeating the words of Christ to Peter; see what He told Peter: “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Yes, it is our Christ given responsibility to strengthen our brothers. But how do we strengthen our brothers? We mainly strengthen them by praying for them; by interceding on behalf of them.
Remember, spiritual man needs spiritual strength to survive and we receive spiritual strength through prayers. When we strengthen others; we are also strengthening ourselves.
But I don’t know how many in the church are really serious about interceding on behalf of their brothers and sisters. Mostly we spend all our prayer time seeking answers for our own needs and intercession always receive only secondary attention.
5. Jesus always Prayed according to His Heavenly Father’s Will.
Yes, Jesus always prayed according to His Heavenly Father’s Will. His prayers were always not about His own personal life or needs, but they were always about expanding the Kingdom of God on earth. Also, because He prayed according to His Father’s will, Jesus always received prompt answers for His prayers.
In contrast, our prayers are always according to our own will and as a result we often fail to receive prompt answers from God.
Yes, if we ask anything according to His will, we will receive it. Unfortunately, this important component is missing in the prayer life of many believers. Most of the time our prayers are all about ourselves; we are more concerned about our little kingdoms on earth than the Kingdom of God.
You might wonder why I say this; well, you just examine the things that you pray for daily; or the things that you talk to God about during your prayer time. It is all about your own dreams, aspirations and goals; it is all about your own disappointments, failures, worries and anxieties.
How often do you spend time interceding on behalf of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? How often do you pray for your Pastors and Preachers? How often do you pray for the Persecuted Churches around the world? Above all, how often do you pray:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Saints, one of the most important things that we could learn from Jesus’ prayer life is this – “Prayer should be all about others and not about ourselves.”
When we pray for others – we are opening the doors of heaven on our own lives. When our focus shifts from ourselves to others; God’s focus comes over our own lives. Praying for others manifests our concern for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and it moves the heart of God.