Jesus was a person of frequent, persistent, prevailing prayer. Prayer was an indispensable part of everything He was. It was the source of His spiritual life, His spiritual growth, His spiritual power. He enjoined His disciples to “watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Matt. 26:41).
There were at least two pivotal moments in His life when Jesus’ prayers stood out above all other times. One was at the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus faced the reality of the Cross. Though His disciples had come with Him, Jesus left them to rest while He went farther into the garden and prayed so intensely that He sweat great drops of blood (see Matt. 26:36-44; Luke 22:44).
A second prayer of monumental importance came during those dark awful hours He spent upon the cross. Though He was undergoing the intense agony of crucifixion, Jesus’ heart went out to His tormentors and, on their behalf, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). There is no doubt about it—our Lord was a Man of prayer.
When and Where Did Jesus Pray?
Deep, prevailing prayer is not always convenient. Effective prayer demands a commitment to time and place. Jesus exemplified this fact. “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35).
When did Jesus pray? He prayed during the early cool of the day. He prayed when therewas no one around, when there were no interruptions. He spent early, quality time with His Father. He prayed while His mind was fresh and unencumbered with the countless details of living. Have you ever risen very early in the morning to pray? I often find those times the most refreshing, the most rewarding, the most precious.
Where did Jesus pray? He could have stayed in His room, or even in the house. But Hedidn’t. He found a solitary place in which to approach and commune with His Father. He prayed frequently. He spent quality time in prayer. He prayed when and where He would not be beset by interruptions.
Though Jesus had come from the Father, He knew wherein His strength lay—in prayer. So, if Jesus needed to pray, how much more must we? If He needed to find quality time to pray, how much more should we? If He deemed it necessary to get totally away from others while He prayed, shouldn’t we?
If you own an automobile, you know you must put fuel in it regularly or it will quit running. You know you must feed your body regularly, or it will die. Prayer is the fuel that feeds the spirit of man. If your spirit is not refueled by frequent prayer, it will run down and come to a total stop.
Christ Also Spent Entire Nights in Prayer
“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” (Luke 6:12). All night in prayer to God!
“But I can’t do that,” people say. “I’ve got to get my rest.” I need my rest, too, yet I have spent many nights in prayer. Then I’ve had to get up and get going the next day, meeting and counseling with people. I agree that it isn’t easy!
But when I have prayed the night through for whatever reason, my spiritual batteries have become fully charged despite my physical weariness. It must have been so with Jesus, because throngs of people often wanted merely to touch Him. How much He must have needed the refillings that came from those nights alone with His Father.
The result was always a fresh supply of power and anointing that was sufficient for the never-ending drain upon His spiritual resources. But during those nights when He prayed, laying before the Father the needs of a hurting, sinful world, God met Him. Our Father will do the same for anyone who cares enough to forfeit a few hours’ sleep to rendezvous with the Almighty.
For a man to give up his rest to intercede for others reveals his sincerity. For a man to devote to God alone a morning, a day, or an entire night reveals his passion to help and bless people and indicates that they are his first concern.
The Church Must Rediscover Its Source of Power
Today’s church has beautified itself by constructing great buildings and impressive citadels of worship. But that same church, in many cases, is out of touch with people. As a result, America has produced an entire generation that doesn’t know God, that doesn’t love and serve Him. My friends, this generation needs God!
Today’s church must be reborn for the task of reaching this generation for God. It must reach to the mountaintop and spend time in prayer. The church in South Korea has done so and has literally saved the nation. In that land, thousands of people rise at four o’clock every morning and go to the mountaintops to pray. We need the same awakening in America, in all of our land, and in our churches.
We need to seek God. We need to learn how to search for Him with all of our hearts. We need those mountaintop prayer meetings. We need those times of solitary prayer. We need them a thousand times more than Jesus ever did.
Prayer was Jesus’ Communion, His Inspiration, His Strength
Jesus set the prayer pattern for us. He was showing us how to live, how to worship, how to pray. If we would be successful in our lives for the Lord, we would do well to follow our Lord’s example.
Jesus said, “Men [and women as well] always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). God wants us to learn to pray in times of adversity, in times of turmoil, in times of problems. He wants us to pray and not lose heart or give up. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Anybody can give up and quit, but it takes fortitude, courage, and commitment to pray and not lose heart.
Prayer Held No Second Place in Jesus’ Life
To me it’s beautiful to realize that even though Jesus was the Son of God, the Savior of the world, prayer was always in first place in His life. Prayer held number one priority for Him. Is prayer in first place in your life? Does it have that same priority in your life as it did in Jesus’ life?
Let’s be very honest: most of us pray if we have time. We pray if the baby doesn’t cry and disturb us. We pray if the neighbors don’t come over for the evening. We pray if we don’t have to clean the house, or go shopping, or go to work. Isn’t that right?
But if prayer is to be effective in each of our lives—as God intended it should be—it has to hold topmost priority in our lives.
When Jesus went to the mountaintop to pray, He was there for that single purpose. Nothing disturbed Him there. So He prayed. Until you and I can learn to utilize prayer in the same single-minded fashion, we’ll never be able to reach the mountaintops of blessing and anointing and receive all of God’s blessings.
The High-Priestly Prayer of Our Lord
Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is one of the greatest chapters in the entire Bible. In it we can feel the very heartbeat of the Master as He prays to His Father. The concerns for His people that He expressed there are concerns that we should share as we go to God in prayer. Let’s look at some of those things Jesus prayed about in His prayer, the prayer in which we can also sense the depth of His love for the Father and for us, His children.
Jesus prayed that His disciples would all be one. “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are” (John 17:11).
What a precious realization—Jesus prayed for you and me, and He prayed that we might be one with Him in the same way that He is one with His Father! Think of the closeness, the warmth, the sharing that goes on between fathers and sons. Jesus is asking the Creator of the universe to bring about that same affinity between Jesus and all His followers. The fact that Jesus prayed for this indicates that such is possible, and that we should pray for it as well.
Jesus prayed that His disciples would have joy. “But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13). How wonderful to realize that when Jesus prayed for me (and for all of us), He prayed that we might possess His own divine joy! With Jesus’ resources available, we should never be sad or unhappy. We should truly be filled with joy, His joy. Truly, “the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). When we are joyful, we are filled with strength. But when our joy is gone, we become weak. This, too, is a proper subject for our prayers.
Jesus prayed that all of His disciples be kept from evil. Jesus knew that all His followers would be under attack. His prayer was, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). God doesn’t take us from our jobs to keep us from exposure to evil. The devil is determined to destroy us and continually tries to draw us away from God and His Word. But Jesus, the Son of God, prayed that we would not be overcome by any of the tricks the devil employs against us, and we need to pray likewise every day.
Jesus prayed that His disciples would live holy lives. “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). “Sanctify them,” Jesus prayed. The word sanctify simply means to set apart for a sacred purpose, to consecrate, to purify. How are we to be sanctified, set apart, purified? There is only one way, only one means—the Word of God.
God has provided His Word as the instrument of our sanctification. “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:25-26). We sanctify ourselves by availing ourselves of His resources, by reading the Word of God, by obeying the Word of God, by living as the Word of God directs, and by praying for His purifying to be accomplished in us.
Jesus prayed that His disciples be perfect. “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:23). This is amazing, but it’s exactly what Jesus prayed—that we may be made perfect in Him, that the world around us might come to know the love of God in Christ by observing our clean living and our godly lives. Certainly we need to ask God daily to use us as effective witnesses of His love.
Jesus prayed that His disciples would receive eternal life. “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). Think of it; Jesus prayed that the inhabitants of the entire world might receive eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Jesus is that only begotten Son described in this Scripture. He is the One who prayed for us—for you and me—that we might inherit life everlasting. What a blessed hope we have in Jesus! In like manner, we should pray daily for the salvation of those we love who do not yet know the Savior.
Whatever we are or become in our spiritual lives, we owe it all to the Savior who gave Himself for us, who prayed for us that we might be one with Him, and who gave us such a beautiful pattern to follow in our own prayer lives.