We may not always know what to pray, especially during such uncertain and overwhelming times. But, prayer is monumental and has a huge impact on us and our world. Thankfully, Jesus demonstrated what a life of prayer looked like. So, let’s look at Jesus’ prayer life for guidance to lead us in the ways we can pray powerfully.
1. Father, Son and Holy Spirit
The first time we see Jesus pray in the Bible is directly following his baptism. Luke 3:21-22 reads, “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'”
This is the first time in the New Testament where we see Father, Son and Holy Spirit melded together. Jesus is baptized, he prays, the Holy Spirit descends and God speaks! When we pray, Jesus intercedes for us, the Holy Spirit falls and God speaks to us.
2. Get alone with God
Often Jesus would withdraw after preaching to a crowd or healing people to be alone to pray (See Luke 5:16, Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, Luke 6:12, etc.). If you can’t just go off to a mountain as Jesus did, find a quiet space somewhere to be alone with God, uninterrupted.
3. Pray without ceasing
In 1 Thessalonians 5, it says to “pray without ceasing.” Jesus was continually in prayer whether he went off to pray alone, or was with his disciples or in a crowd of people. John 17:6-26 is a beautiful prayer Jesus prayed over his disciples. Even when we can’t get alone with God, we can still be praying.
The Bible doesn’t tell us how long Jesus prayed, but looking at the account of Luke 6, we read that Jesus spent the whole night praying to God! You don’t have to spend all night, every night praying to God, but our prayer should be fluid, not just the 5 minutes we have here and there. We can spend 20 minutes or 20 hours, but we have to take the time for God as Jesus did.
6. Giving thanks and praise
When Jesus taught the disciples to pray in Matthew 6:9, the first words He spoke were, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” We address God intimately and adoringly by praising His name, honoring who He is while remembering His place. God is in Heaven. Woah! We get to communicate with the creator of this world while he is in heaven, and he hears us! That’s incredible and worthy of praise, amirite?
Praise is so vast. It can be lots of things. We can praise God by thanking him for making the sun, providing us with food or thanking God for just being God. You can tell him he’s a good father, or exalt his name, whatever it is, if we start from a place of remembering who God is and who we are in proximity, it will always get our hearts in a good place.
While God may not appear and speak to everyone as He did in the Old Testament, I believe God still speaks to us. When we look at the examples we have in the Bible, our entire New Testament was written by people who heard God’s voice. Jesus didn’t have a physical Bible as we do and yet He knew the Father’s will consistently. When we dig into the pages of the Bible and write them on our hearts, I believe God uses that in our quiet times to speak to us. More than that, I think God speaks to us, whether it be in images, dreams, words, verses or a physical voice. He will speak if we will listen (Mark Virkler has some fantastic resources if you want to dig into how to hear God’s voice).
The last thing Jesus did in his ministry before he ascended was to bless his disciples. “When He had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God” — Luke 24:50-53.
If we are to pray powerfully, we must look to Jesus and the scriptures to lead us there. Jesus left the disciples on a beautiful note, blessing them. May God bless us as well as we venture to be more like Him in our prayer life.
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