Learning to Pray Like Jesus

Jesus probably spent more time in prayer than any human who has ever lived. So fervent was His prayer life that the disciples (who already knew a thing or two about prayer) once begged, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Far more insightful and fascinating than the amount of time Jesus spent in prayer is the content of Jesus’ prayers and petitions. In an effort to be more like Him, we should ask, “What would Jesus pray for?”

He would pray about God’s will — “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). Jesus subjected His will to the Father’s (Jn 17:4), and thus became our perfect example. Our prayer life ought also to focus on God and His will. Prayers are many times concerned too much with our own will and too little with God’s. James rebukes this attitude in us: “You ought to say, if the Lord wills we will live and also do this or that” (James 4:15). The Lord wants us to be concerned with His will being accomplished in our hearts, in our lives, and in the lives of others!

He would pray for His enemies — One of the most heart-wrenching prayers in the entire Bible was uttered on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Jesus prayed for those who were guilty of putting Him to death. While God will not forgive an impenitent sinner, Jesus realized how desperately these men needed the salvation He was providing. How much more should Christians be willing to forbear persecutions in bringing others to the Lord? We should bless our enemies by praying on their behalf (Matt 5:44-45).

He would pray for unity in the church — Before His death, Jesus uttered a magnificent prayer on our behalf in John 17: “that they may be one, as You, Father are in Me, and as I am in You, that they may be one in us” (John 17:21). Jesus was not praying for unity at the expense of truth, but make no mistake, He was praying that Christians be united in God’s cause. Around our brotherhood today there are churches that have been splintered and fractured by personality disputes, sin in the church, and the continual turmoil of brethren trying to be, “Greatest in the kingdom.” Mark these words: Jesus prayed for the kind of unity that only comes with a firm commitment to the truth and a humble spirit displayed on the part of all. Let’s pray for more churches like that!

He would pray for those who are struggling in faith — As He prayed on a mountaintop, Jesus witnessed His disciples struggling in the midst of a storm (Mk 6:47-48). Jesus knew this storm was testing their faith in Him, and we should have no doubt that He prayed for them. How often are we concerned for those we see who are struggling? Many of us have daily opportunities to minister to people that need our love and encouragement, but we do well to remember Jesus’ example: He prayed for His disciples before He walked out to them on the sea. Let’s remember those who are struggling with storms of their own when we pray.

He would pray with gratitude — When Jesus rejoiced, it was because He was grateful to God (Luke 10:21-22). The Bible inseparably links the characteristics of real, lasting joy and gratitude toward God (cf. Phil 4:6-7). Our prayers ought to reflect a genuine sense of thankfulness for God’s abundant blessings (James 1:17). One of the greatest sins we can commit is to fail to be thankful (cf. Rom. 1:21). Learning to pray like Jesus means that we should spend more time, “counting our many blessings” as we pray. How’s your prayer life? Do you pray like Jesus? — John Baker