The Prayer Life of Jesus Christ
Jesus Was a Prayer Warrior
At the term prayer warrior, we think of the elderly shut-in grandmother, an elder in the church, or a brother or sister in a prayer group. They pray fervently with power, consistently. Ephesians 6:10-18 describes a prayer warrior. He commanded us to put on the WHOLE armor of God because we battle the principalities, rulers of darkness, spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly realms. We deflect the fiery darts of the wicked one. The armor is the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation.
The Word of God and prayer are our offensive weapons. And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints" (vs. 18). Notice the word watchful and perseverance.
This is the best description of a prayer warrior there is. But prayer and spiritual warfare are for every Christian.
Now we'll look at the greatest prayer warrior ever: Jesus Christ. In the gospels, we hear a lot about Jesus's prayer life. It was rich and faithful and a model for us.
Why Did Jesus Need to Pray?
Why would Jesus need to pray, He is God in the flesh? He was flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). He was fully God and fully man. He experienced all the temptations man does in every way but did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus prayed to have intimate fellowship with His Father:
- "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38).
- "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:44).
- "...even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father, and I lay down My life for the sheep" (John 10:15).
- "...but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here" ( John 14:31).
- "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." (John 15:10).
Jesus Fasted and Prayed At His Temptation in the Wilderness
After Jesus was baptized the Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1). On the surface, it seems strange that the Holy Spirit would do such a thing, but it actually makes sense when you think about it. Jesus was about to begin his three-and-a-half-year ministry and ultimate journey to the cross. He would be tested time and again along the way by Satan and people. Remember, Jesus is God, and He was also fully man.
Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights. Fasting is accompanied by prayer so you can be sure He was also praying, spiritual warfare prayer. At the forty-day mark, Satan began his temptation. He began with Jesus' physical weakness and hunger: "Make these stones into bread." Jesus quoted the Bible: "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God." He established immediately that God's word superseded all else.
Satan thought two can play at this game. He took Jesus to Jerusalem on the pinnacle of the temple and dared him to jump with the assurance the Bible says the angels would catch him and keep him from harm. Jesus quoted "You shall not tempt the Lord thy God."
Then the devil pulled out all the stops and dared to try and usurp Christ's deity by showing Him all the kingdoms in the world with a promise he would give it all to Jesus if Jesus would worship Him. Jesus quoted, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."
Because Jesus persevered in prayer and fasting He knew how to combat Satan's fiery darts with the Word of God. A lesson we should follow.
Jesus' Daily Private Prayer Life
Jesus's prayer closet was often conducted:
- In the wilderness (Luke 5:16)
- On a mountain (Matt. 14:23, Luke 6:12, Mark 6:46),
- In lonely secluded places (Mark 1:35-36),
- The garden of Gethesemane when He was in the area (Luke 22:39; John 18:1-2).
Jesus had to find quiet places to pray with all the disciples and people seeking his attention. We complain we have too many demands and responsibilities to pray, or we're too tired, but we find time for meaningless things. He frequently drew back into the wilderness to have some peace and quiet (Luke 5:15-16). He didn't give up.
Jesus also had to find time to pray. We read He went to pray:
- Long before dawn (Mark 1:35)
- When evening had come (Matt. 14:23)
- Through the night (Luke 6:12).
The disciples saw Jesus' prayer life was not the stereotypical pattern of Jewish prayer. They were so intrigued and perhaps hungered to have an intimacy with God they did not possess. They finally asked Him one day, after finding Him praying, to teach them to pray.
The Lord's Prayer
In Luke 11:1-4 we come across the disciples' observance of Christ praying. They were struck by it so much (and I'm sure they observed Him at other times) that they wanted Him to teach them to pray.
Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
So He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.”
In the Matthew 6 version, it adds "For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.
This was a model prayer, a template, but surely it can be prayed verbatim. It is so powerful and full of hope and comfort.
Jesus Prayed Before Big Decisions
Jesus had a lot to pray about. In Luke 6:12-13 Jesus prayed through the night when He was going to choose the disciples the following day.
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. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; twelve whom He also named apostles:
He went on to name the twelve. The decision was of great importance because they would follow and be taught by Him for the next three and a half years. They would go on to form the Church.
Jesus Prayed For Himself
Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together which I had with You before the world was (John 17:1-5).
In John 17 the gospel we're allowed to listen in on Christ's stunning prayer just prior to his arrest and crucifixion. Verse 1 says that He lifted His eyes to heaven. His first prayer was for Himself.
It tells us the gospel in a nutshell:
- The Father's mission and will for Christ
- The deity of Christ as well as His humanity
- Who the Father is
- Their relationship and roles in the Trinity.
- Asked God to glorify Him so that He can glorify the Father.
- Jesus sought the Father's will.
- The Father gave Him authority on all flesh.
- That He is the One to give Eternal life to all whom the Father has chosen.
- He explained what eternal life is: That they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
- Jesus' last statement reveals His presence with the Father in eternity past. He is pre-the existent One. He would glorify the Father at His death and resurrection and return to the Father.
Jesus Prayed for the Disciples
Jesus went on to pray for His disciples. It is a lengthy passage—verses 6-19. I will break it down:
- He recognized the Father had been made manifest to the disciples.
- That the Father gave them to Him.
- The disciples had kept the Father's word.
- The disciples knew He came from the Father.
- He asked for unity between Himself and the Father, and for his twelve friends. They were going to be left in the world and they would need to be one with them and one another (9-10).
- He asked the Father to protect the disciples from the world and the evil one (vs. 11-1).
- He asked the Father to make them holy and to teach them the truth (vs. 17-18).
Jesus Prayed for Disciples in the Future
Finally, Jesus prayed for future disciples; that would be all believers in Him.
- They would be unified with one another and with the Father and the Son (20-22).
- That they would be able to be where He and the Father are now so they can see His glory.
- The world doesn't know Him but all future disciples would and that they would know how the Father loves the Son. He asked that they would also have the Father's love in them.
Jesus' High Priestly Prayer John 17
Jesus Prayed for Others
There were other occasions when Jesus prayed for them and for others.
- He prayed and blessed the children (Matthew 19:15; Mark 1:16).
- He prayed for the people at Lazarus' tomb (John 11:40-41).
- Jesus told Peter that Satan asked to sift him as wheat, but He prayed that Peter's faith would not fail.
- Jesus asked God to forgive His enemies from the cross (Luke 23:34).
Jesus Blessed the Food and Wine
Jesus was known to look to heaven and give thanks while breaking bread.
- Feeding of the multitudes (Matthew 14:19, 15:36; Mark 6:40, 8:7; Luke 9:16, John 6:11). The food was bread and fish.
- The Last Passover Supper (Matthew 26:26-27; Mark 14:22-23; Luke 22:19-20).
- Dining with two Disciples in Emmaus after His resurrection (Luke 24:35).
Jesus Prayed Before and After Miracles
Jesus spent time in prayer before and after miracles. We are not told the specifics of what He prayed but we get some idea in the following verses. Take notice that in some of these, the disciples realized that He was the Messiah, the Son of God:
- In Matthew 14 Jesus fed the five thousand. After they dispersed, he sent the disciples to cross the lake in a boat while he prayed. A storm came and Jesus walked on water. Peter did also, but he sank out of fear. Jesus stopped the storm.
- In Luke 9 Jesus was transfigured on a mountain and Moses and Elijah appeared with Him and they talked about Jesus' coming death.
Jesus Prayed In His Suffering
Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane on the same night He was arrested. He entered into an emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual battle in prayer of unparalleled proportions. He was about to take the sins of the world upon Himself. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says He became sin for us so that we could be declared righteous. He knew He was about to suffer barbaric torture and gruesome, shameful death. He also knew He would be separated from the Father for six hours.
He began to be deeply distressed and sorrowful even unto death. (Matthew 26:38, Mark 14:34). Christ's prayer in the garden was: "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; not as I will, but as You will.” The Mark 14 passage says "Abba, Father." Abba is an endearment meaning Daddy or Papa.
The cup he spoke of was suffering. At the last supper, he held up the wine and said, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood which is shed for you" (Luke 22:20). Jesus asked the Zebedee brothers one time, "Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They affirmed they would, but didn't know what Jesus meant.
An angel came and strengthened Him. Then He went to the disciples and found them sleeping. That gave Him further distress. He told them to watch and pray and warned them about succumbing to temptation.
The Bible says He was in agony and prayed more earnestly. Dr. Luke said Jesus sweat drops of blood (a rare medical phenomenon Hematidrosis). Once again He found the three sleeping. Another admonition to watch and pray and returned and prayed the same words as before. Then He was arrested.
Jesus also prayed on the cross. "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
His final prayer on this earth was the culmination of His submission to God from the cross: "Father, into Your hands I commit my Spirit." Then He breathed His last.
Related Articles by Lori Colbo
- The Agony in Gethsemane
In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus suffered unimaginable agony, sorrow, and anxiety.
© 2020 Lori Colbo