Prayer For A Deeper Knowledge Of God
If God knows what I need and want, why is prayer important?
Just as the Bible is important for teaching us about who Jesus is, what He has done for us, and who we are in Him, so also is prayer a key part of building a deeper and abiding relationship with God. When we read the Bible, God speaks to us. When we pray, we speak to God.
We know that we can pray directly to God and that He hears us (More about praying directly to God. Read, “Why Do Catholics Pray to Saints?”). We long to hear God’s voice.
But do we also remember that God desires to hear our voices? The God of the universe, the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God of all creation invites us into His presence to speak to Him and to share with Him all that is on our hearts.
Our Purpose in Life?
The Westminster Shorter Catechism answers the question, “What is the chief end of man?” with this statement:
“To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”
Every person who belongs to Jesus should strive to live their lives for God’s glory. In doing so they will find joy in Him. Prayer is one way in which we can glorify and enjoy God.
Read about this year’s National Day of Prayer. Watch an adorable puppy pray, thanking God for food.
It’s sometimes easy to fall into the trap of thinking, God knows my every thought and all my needs. He loves me and has promised to care for me.
So why do I need to pray? If God is immutable (without changing) and He is eternal and omniscient (knowing the beginning from the end), then why should I ask for something He might not be willing to give me? Or why would I tell Him about things He already knows? Why should I tell Him of my cares, if I trust He is good and cares for me?These are reasonable questions. They exhibit an understanding of the sovereignty of God over all creation and His goodness and kindness, His mercy and love, as well as the gifts of abundant grace that He gives us every day.
So why should we pray? The reasons for praying are both biblical and personal.
Biblical Reasons to Pray
The first mention of prayer is found in Genesis 4:
Genesis 4:26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.
Seth was the son of Adam and Eve who had enjoyed perfect communion with God in the Garden prior to their disobedient sin.
Once sin entered the world, man found it necessary to seek God, “to call upon His name,” to guide and direct them and to discern His will for their lives. We too must call upon His name.
Not because God won’t guide us, but because we will more readily receive His guidance and direction.
Prayer is a necessary part of communion with God. It is a time of asking of God and receiving from God. It is also an exercise of faith—knowing and believing that God hears and answers according to His good will and love for us.
With each passing generation, man has become further removed from God and His ways. He increasingly follows the secular culture and is all too often overcome by worldly influences.
Prayer returns our focus to Jesus and enables us to turn from the world.
There are many reasons that God has given us prayer, and many reasons that we should pray. As you read through the following reasons, consider the importance of prayer in your life and allow these reasons to become personal and to motivate you to a more frequent and deeper prayer life.
We are Invited to Pray
Psalm 50:15 And call upon me in the day of trouble…
Jeremiah 29:12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me…
Matthew 7:7-11 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
We are Commanded to Pray
Matthew 5:44 …pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…
Mark 13:33 Take ye heed, watch and pray:
Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…
Rom 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Colossians 4:2 Continue in prayer,
1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
1 Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
We are to Respond to God’s Invitation and Command
We are invited and commanded to pray because God loves us and desires a prayer relationship with us. When He calls us to something we are to respond as the prophet Isaiah did, “here am I.” (Isaiah 6:8) Responding to God in prayer is not only an act of obedience, it is also an act of honor given to the One who gave His all for us.
We are told that in our walk of sanctification we are being conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). Prayer was a regular part of the Lord’s daily life and it is to be part of ours also.
Jesus prayed because He was living in a human body. When Jesus set aside His divinity (Philippians 2:7), He no longer shared the union with God that He had in glory. Prayer for Jesus, was just as it is for us, a personal way of communicating with God.
Let His example be a motivation to seek God early in all things.
“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” –Matthew 14:23
“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’” –Matthew 26:36
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” –Mark 1:35
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” –Luke 5:16
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” –Luke 6:12
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” –Luke 18:1
There is Power in Prayer
The power in prayer is not a power that comes from the act of prayer. It is a power that flows from the One to whom we pray. In our impotent humanity, we are blessed to be able to reach upward to God in prayer knowing that He hears.
In His omnipotence He responds and we receive—that’s the power of prayer! Prayer unleashes a deeper communion with God in our hearts and it comforts our souls. It grows a richer faith in who He is, and unleashes power in us to live our lives in service to Him and others. The power is not in our petition.
The power comes from His response and a confidence in knowing He is ever-present with us.
John 14:13-14 – And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
1 John 5:14-15 – And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
James 1:5 – If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
James 5:16 …The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Luke 11:9 – And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
How Should We Pray?
God loves our prayers and He desires us to enter into closer communion with Him through prayer. There is no required method of prayer. It truly is simply a conversation with our Father in Heaven.
Prayers can be long or short, petitions or praises, questions or affirmations. Prayers can be for oneself or for another.
They can be from a joyous heart, a downcast heart, a repentant heart, or a broken heart, but all prayer should be in reverence of God and with a desire to submit to His will.That will produce prayers of trusting faith, knowing God will hear and believing He will answer. (A beautiful pattern of trinitarian prayer can be found here: What are the various types of prayer? How should I pray?)
The prayer of the upright is the Lord’s delight. Proverbs 15:8
Pray often. Pray reverently and fervently.
Wait upon the Lord—He answers prayers.
A Deeper Knowledge of God
Editor’s note: If your life feels a hectic, noisy, runaway train, you’re in good company. Nicole Johnson (you may remember her from Women of Faith) shares her story of going from feeling overwhelmed and control to finding calm even in the middle of chaotic circumstances. We hope you enjoy this excerpt from her book Creating Calm in the Center of Crazy.
Be still, and know that I am God. — Psalm 46:10
The psalmist here is quoting God. Not that this is a commandment; after all it didn’t make the top ten, but I would say this is a strong suggestion and muy importante.
My personal translation of this verse is: “I can be still and know that God is God, or I can stay busy and keep wondering if I am!” If I’m reading this psalm right, the path to knowing there is a God is being still enough to find out.
Because when I am running my world, making all the decisions and calling all the shots, I am at the center of my own universe. When I play God so often, I forget I’m not God.
I might even be serving God, but it is mostly in an advisory capacity.
There is an old joke worth sharing: “What is the difference between you and God?”
“I don’t know, what is the difference?”
“God never gets confused and thinks He’s you!”
Stillness provides me the opportunity to keep the “who is whom?” question answered correctly. It allows me to remove myself from the center of my own world, again. I confess to taking up a role I cannot play.
I humbly bow before the greatness of God. These deep reminders always make me weep with relief and gratitude. I do want to be God, but I do not want to be God.
I know too well that trying to be God, even subconsciously, creates crazy inside and out.
Peter Kreeft’s commentary on Pascal says as much: “We want to complexify our lives. We don’t have to, we want to. We want to be harried and hassled and busy.
Unconsciously, we want the very things we complain about.
For if we had leisure, we would look at ourselves and listen to our hearts and see the great gaping hole in our hearts and be terrified, because that hole is so big that nothing but God can fill it.”1
When I am busy playing God, I ignore God. I don’t ask any questions of God or about God. I don’t need to. I dig the hole a lot deeper and refuse to let him fill it. Or if I do ask a question, it’s not a real question, and I’m not listening for an answer.When I’m doing the headless chicken thing I do, I bark questions that are not questions at all, such as, “Elliot, will you put your shoes on, please?” I’m not asking him a question; I’m making a request couched in a question. I don’t listen for his response because I’m not expecting one! I’m expecting his cooperation with my directive.
If he doesn’t put his shoes on, I huff, “You’re not listening to me, son!” When the truth is I’m not listening to him. This is why extremely capable, busy, modern people dismiss the concept of God. They never stop to listen. They might ask hard questions of God, but God is rarely, if ever, given the chance to answer.
Why did my father die when I was nine? Why does the world have to suffer so horribly? Isn’t it wrong that children are starving? While these look questions, they are not if people don’t listen for an answer. They are merely rhetorical questions they think they know the answer to: Either God is not there or God does not care about me or the world.
Instead of making assumptions about God, it would be more accurate to note that we are not listening or giving God an opportunity to speak to our questions. In order to do that, we would have to stop and be still and face the great gaping hole.
We can come to know more about God than we have ever dared to believe if we gave God the opportunity to respond to us.
This would deepen our knowledge and our faith, but to do this we must be still. I can see this dynamic played out in my relationship with my kids.
When I ask Abigail or Elliot to be still, they react as if I’ve asked them to scale the Great Wall of China using a plunger! But unless they can be still, especially when they need or want something, I cannot help very effectively. If Abigail is waving her glass in the air, I cannot fill it with water. Hold it still, please.
If Elliot is hopping around, I cannot put a Band-Aid on his scraped knee. I know it hurts, sweetie, but hold it still for just a second. If I didn’t see her fall and Abigail cannot stop crying to tell me what hurts, I feel helpless to make it better. Take a deep breath, honey, take a minute and then tell me where it hurts.I’m not asking the kids to be still for the rest of their lives, or mine, just long enough to allow me to pour the water, or care for the wound, or figure out how to help. Their stillness gives me the best chance to reveal my heart to them.
Isn’t the implication the same for me with God? If I can’t be still either, I am left longing, or wounded, angry, or worse, stuck in doubt that God exists. If I can’t be still, I miss out on the very ways God wants to demonstrate his own character to me.
“Be still and know” is simultaneously a challenge, an invitation, a promise, and even a dare.
Not only has getting still deepened my knowledge of myself and of God, it has created a center of calm in my life.
1 Kreeft, Christianity for Modern Pagans, 168.
Excerpted with permission from Creating Calm in the Center of Crazy by Nicole Johnson, copyright Nicole Johnson.
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Is it easy for you to be still? Or is it hard to be quiet before God and wait to hear Him? What happens when you take time to rest and listen for the voice of Jesus? What happens when you don’t do that for a long time? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily
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10 Awesome Bible Verses About the Power of Prayer
Who is your source of power? This list of awesome power of prayer Bible verses is meant to encourage you today. I pray that you read through these Bible verses and then take them to God in prayer.
Ask God for the wisdom and discernment to teach you how He wants you to pray and for what He wants you to pray for.
For a great Christian song check out the video to the right Shout to the Lord by Darlene Zschech.
Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it
Pray in Faith
This list of awesome power of prayer Bible verses is meant to encourage you today.
Mark 9:29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”
Acts 9:40 But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.
James 5:14-16 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another,that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Always & With Thanksgiving
Ephesians 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Christian Quotes About Prayer
Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan. ~ John Bunyan
The fewer the words the better prayer. ~ Martin Luther
Prayer is an effort of will. ~ Oswald Chambers
Our prayer and God’s mercy are two buckets in a well; while one ascends, the other descends. ~ Arthur Hopkins
If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for. ~ Charles H. Spurgeon
It is because of the hasty and superficial conversation with God that the sense of sin is so weak and that no motives have power to help you to hate and flee from sin as you should. ~ A.W. Tozer
Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. Gods voice in response to mine is its most essential part. ~ Andrew Murray
Don’t pray when you feel it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees. ~ Corrie Ten Boom
Prayer is the acid test of devotion. ~ Samuel Chadwick
Prayer – secret, fervent, believing prayer – lies at the root of all personal godliness. ~ Williams CareyMy prayer for you today is that you take these Bible verses you just read and do something with them. Too often we just take information in and then move on to the next project or thing. Use these awesome Bible Verses and put them into action by being obedient to what they teach!
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
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3 Prayers to Deepen Your Understanding of the Gospel
Ephesians 1:3-14 mentions glorious gospel truths in a way that sometimes feels too good to be true—at least for me. The passage opens by praising the Triune God for every spiritual blessing we have in Christ (v3) before unpacking some of these glorious blessings.
God the Father chose me to be adopted into His family? And He did this before time began?!? He lavished His love upon me by sending His Son to die for me to redeem me from my sins and become the bridge over the chasm of sin that separated man from God? And God sends the Holy Spirit as the down payment of a glorious inheritance that awaits those “in Christ” in heaven?
Contemplating these gospel truths often leaves me speechless, or grasping for the words of the Psalmist, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it” (Psalm 139:6).
How can we respond to truths that are too glorious and too gracious for us to comprehend with our finite, sin-tainted minds? How can we transport these lofty ideas from our heads and plant deep in our hearts to stir our affections and move us to Christ-adorning action? There are two ways.
We praise God. He has revealed the mystery of His will to us in uniting all things under the Lordship and dominion of Christ.
Instead of trying to wrap our mind around all of the details and questions we still have, let us lift our hearts up to God in heartfelt worship—this is the purpose of the glorious truths of Ephesians 1:3-14, that we might live “to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).
We also pray. And that is exactly what Paul does in the second half of Ephesians 1.
Very rarely in Scripture does God give us a prayer of application for a specific passage, and that is exactly how Ephesians 1:15-23 functions for the opening portion of Ephesians (1:3-14).
It’s important that we take note of the Spirit-inspired prayers of the Scriptures so our prayers can be shaped by Scripture and God’s priorities, not our own.
So what do we pray for a deeper understanding of the gospel? Paul prays in verse 18 and following that we would have a spirit of wisdom and revelation to know three things:
1. Pray for a deeper knowledge of the hope we have in Christ
“…that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…” Ephesians 1:18a
Knowing that we have every spiritual blessing in Christ both now and for all of eternity should well up in an unspeakable hope in our hearts. That’s why Paul prays for us to know this hope. This hope allows us to rejoice in our sufferings and persevere during hardship (Romans 5:2-5).
The idea of hope is not just a pipe-dream, “I hope I will win the lottery.” This hope is an eager expectation of something guaranteed. Pray for a hope in Christ that will so fix your eyes on heavenly things that earthly troubles only increase your longing for your true home.
2. Pray for a deeper knowledge of God’s love for us in Christ
“…what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…” Ephesians 1:18b
Many think the inheritance Paul refers to in verse 18 is our inheritance in God, but it clearly says “the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints”—God’s inheritance in us. What?! We, as God’s dearly beloved family, are His inheritance because are united to His dearly beloved Son by faith.
Just there is a strong relational bond (albeit imperfect due to sin) between a parent and child, there is a perfect and unbreakable relational bond between God and believers. The Father won’t let anyone or anything pluck His dearly beloved children from His hand (John 10:28).
God could have chosen anything in the entire universe to be His inheritance, His treasure—and He chooses human beings you and me. We are His bride, His glorious inheritance. How many of you want to experientially know more of God’s love for you? Then pray to know the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.
3. Pray for a deeper knowledge of God’s power
“…what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places…” Ephesians 1:19-20
We Christians need to know we are not powerless. The same power that raised Christ from the dead and that rules above every earthly and heavenly authority not only lives in us, but is available to help us when you pray. God’s power is available to give us strength during weakness and do far more abundantly than we can ask or think in every area of our lives (Ephesians 3:20).
How would it change your life knowing and depending on the immeasurable greatness of God’s power toward us who believe? Pray to know it and you will find out.
As you incorporate these truths into your prayer repertoire and meditations, God will bolster your faith and deepen your experience of “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” and so you will “be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).
Article adapted from a portion of a sermon I preached on Ephesians 1:3-14.
Know God (or steps towards knowledge of God)
This column first of all is intended for those people, who have already asked themselves a question: “What do I live for?”. It may seems to be a very simple question, though you`ll not find an answer to it in any study book. Perhaps you may say: “I do not ask myself such a question”.
Right, many people live their life and do not even ponder over it. But definitely, everyone is looking for happiness and they even devise and invent it. Everybody wants to be happy. We live in a special time.
Today we may find answers to the questions, which humanity sought for many centuries and even millenniums.
Our amazing planet
Let’s ponder over it. We live on the planet Earth. It is amazing planet, you can find here everything necessary for human life support.
“ The earth brining forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind” (Genesis 1:12).
We know that nothing and no one can live without water – so there is a lot of water on earth to provide life to everything. There is a lot of living creatures in the water that is good for food. The Earth is full of variety of living souls.
These are animals, cattle, reptiles and insects, – everything is intended for life sustenance. There is a great number of birds in the sky. Earth`s deep interiors are full of all sorts of fossils so that man could create and build. Could it all be arranged so wisely, harmoniously and simply just by itself?
Diverse and unique world
Today television allows us to see variety of earth, seas, rivers and even the depth of the oceans. We see how beautiful our earth is and how unique every corner thereof. Rivers always flow by the given routs, seas and oceans are not flow its depths. Every day morning comes, sun rises to walk its way.
Every night we see the vault of heaven, spattered with stars and the moon performs its way. Trees puts its clothes on in spring time and during autumn they put it off. Spring comes after the winter, then summer comes after the spring, then autumn supersedes and then winter takes it turn again. Each season is unique in a special way and it never changes.
And no matter how smart we are, no efforts can change preset pace of life. Just ponder over it?
Our body is designed incredibly difficult
In first two steps we have discussed what a perfect and amazing world we live in. Nevertheless the same amazing and perfect world is inside of us. All organs are located at very convenient for communication scheme. Blood circulatory system arranged so that life blood could reach each cell of the body.
Protection system functions for the whole organism. We can see, hear, think, understand, breath, move and even talk, no other living creature on Earth can do it as well. People trying to find explanation to origin of Earth and every living things on it.
They create various theories, philosophize on the mater, trying to explain unexplainable.
Accident or Creator?
All theories and philosophies offered to us in study books in schools and universities are trying to persuade us that the Earth and all creatures on it came into existence without an INTELLECT. But let us consider simple example.
To build a house someone needs to make the plan thereof, to draw it, to think what material it should be built of, to estimate how much material and other means is necessary etc. So intellect is essential to consider and to determine it all.
How come we are looking at the world we live in where everything is well-considered to the smallest detail, where everything is so perfectly arranged we still believe those silly theories which says that everything appeared just by itself or by chance?
The theory of evolution does not work
People naively believe that the man – the most perfect creation on Earth is descended from monkey. Nevertheless during all time this theory exists it never happened that monkey gave birth to a man, or some monkey would turn into man.
If we pay attention to the world around us we could see that each seed produces only by its kind. The same way each living creature give birth by its kind. Apples can not grow on the vine and raspberries will never grow grapes. Field flowers will never become roses.
The life is included in the seed and the seed produces only by its kind and nature.
Who controls all this?
Thank you for your patience while walking these five steps with us. Let us think now: if intellect is required to build a house, then moreover intellect is required for the Earth (and everything on it) to come into existence. To live in the house for a long while it is necessary for someone to watch over that house, to do renovation, to replace something etc.
To sustain the life on the Earth water and the air are the most necessary and the most consumable. If no one would take care of it constant cleansing those would soon become useless. Intellect is also required for it. The Earth does not exists just by itself. It exists in the Universe where everything is interconnected.
Again we come to the conclusion that someone should manage it all.
God created us and wants to communicate with his creation
If up to this time you have ponder with us then you have probably come to the conclusion that for the Earth to come into existence and to exist with all living creatures on it, the Creator with Higher INTELLECT is required. Today He offers us an opportunity to meet Him.
Today the Creator has become available to anyone seeking the Truth. He longs to have fellowship with us, because He is God and He created us for fellowship with Him. His greatest wisdom in its simplicity, available and understandable to everyone. When He created man He also gave him a manual for living.
This manual is a Bible, the Book of books, where we can find all laws and rules of life.
The way to God begins with prayer. Click HERE, to pray with us.
What Can We Learn about Prayer from the Way Jesus Prayed?
“I’m praying for you.”
“I’ll pray for that.”
“My prayers are with you.”
Christians throw statements this out all the time, don’t they? The most cynical among us might wonder, “Is he really praying for me?” And yet, whatever the quality of someone’s follow-through, he tells us he’s praying because he believes prayer matters. It’s effective. J.I.
Packer got it precisely right in Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, “If you are a Christian, you pray; and the recognition of God’s sovereignty is the basis of your prayers.
” Convinced that God is powerful and in control, believers go to him in prayer, entrusting the nuts and bolts of their daily lives into his omnipotent hands.
But do we talk about prayer more than we actually pray? That’s the chink in the armor of our sanctification that I’d you to think about for a moment. I’m convinced a lot of us talk and read about prayer much more than we pray. It shouldn’t be this way.
I don’t want to induce you to pray by making you feel bad for not praying (it wouldn’t work—not for long, anyway). Instead, I’d you to reflect for a few moments on the life of Jesus.
I’m hopeful that his example and ultimately his sacrifice will motivate you to be more faithful in prayer.
How did Jesus pray?
In Luke 6:12 we encounter something extraordinary. Jesus prayed: “In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.”
It appears that Jesus was praying for wisdom to know whom to select as his twelve apostles. This is a reasonable conclusion. The first thing Jesus does after praying is gather together his disciples and choose the twelve (Luke 6:13-14). Not only that, in Matthew’s account, before settling on his apostles, Jesus exhorted the disciples to pray.
And notice what he told them to pray for: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:37).Given that Jesus told his disciples to pray for workers, it seems ly that Jesus was praying for workers, too, specifically, the workers who would be his apostles.
If prayer is simply talking to God, it shouldn’t surprise us that Jesus prayed. In John 11:41 we see Jesus thanking his Father for hearing him. In Mark 14:36 we find Jesus praying for a way the cross. Clearly it was Jesus’ custom to pray. But this raises an interesting question: why did Jesus pray?
Why did Jesus pray?
The answer is found in the fact that Jesus is both God and man. As the eternal Son of God, Jesus prayed his divinity—serving as a display of communion with his Father (John 10:30).
Being one with the Father, there is no reason to be surprised that the Son communicated with the Father. In that sense, Jesus’ prayer life is rooted in his divinity.
But not only that, Jesus prayed his humanity as well—serving as a model for us of what dependence on the Father looks .
This opens a door into some fascinating questions: Did Jesus know which disciples would be his apostles before he prayed to the Father? Did Jesus need to pray in order to make the right decision? Suffice it to say that the implications of the incarnation are too numerous and deep for our small minds to grasp. But this much is clear, Jesus lived a life of trust in and dependence on his Father to lead him—including leading him to the twelve men preordained by God to represent Jesus on earth.
Regardless of why Jesus prayed, there is much to learn from his example. Let's focus on five lessons we learn from Jesus on prayer.
Lessons from the Prayer Life of Jesus
1. Prayer is necessary.
We are never too busy to pray. Most of us, much of the time, feel as if we are too busy to pray. We have to sleep, after all. We have to work. We have to take care of the kids.
We have to have some down time, don’t we? And when all those things we have to do are done, there is hardly any time for prayer! At least that’s what we tell ourselves. And yet, the truth is that we need prayer as surely as we need sleep and food and rest.
Each of us relies on God, and we demonstrate this reliance by praying. Jesus had the weight of the world on his shoulders, and yet he prayed. How much more should we?
2. Prayer demands solitude.It is striking in Luke 6:12 that Jesus got away from the crowd in order to pray. He sought a place of quiet. There is no command in Scripture to pray in solitude, and yet we should take to heart the model of our Savior.
We should make it a personal discipline to unplug from the world before we speak to the One who made the world. I’m reminded of Susanna Wesley who had no place of escape from her numerous children.
She found solitude in the corner of the kitchen with her apron pulled over her head to allow her just a few moments to think and pray.
3. Prayer will often be strenuous.
On that mountainside Jesus continued to pray all night. He once rebuked his disciples for failing to stay awake and pray (Mark 14:37). Because he is fully man Jesus felt the need to sleep and rest.
Yet he believed it was more important for him to stay alert and pray. What makes us think that our prayer life should be easy? Persistence ought to be the hallmark of every believer’s prayers.
We are to plead with God faithfully, fervently, and passionately (see Luke 18:1-18).
4. Prayer has a purpose.
Jesus had real work to do. Apostles must be chosen. These apostles would go on to preach and write the words the Spirit would use to build the church (Eph. 2:20). Jesus had a church to establish, and so he prayed. When we pray, we ought to know what needs to be accomplished. I the well-worn acronym, A.C.T.S.
We pray to adore the Father because he is worthy of all adoration. We pray to confess our sin because we are to be aware, daily, of our need for forgiveness. We pray to thank God because an attitude of thanksgiving is a mark of every true believer. Finally, we pray supplication, asking God to provide because we know he cares about what we need.
This is what it looks for us to pray with a purpose.
5. Prayer is effective.Having stayed up all night talking to his heavenly Father, Jesus was ready to pick twelve men to serve him on earth. Jesus prayed, the Father answered, and Jesus chose the twelve. Perhaps it’s not a stretch to say that in Luke 6:12 we see something of divine sovereignty and human responsibility.
Jesus prayed because he knew no decision is outside the will of the Lord. But having prayed, Jesus acted. He stepped out and selected the men he believed best suited to do the work he needed. And so it is with us. We pray, because we know that God is sovereign.
And then we act, trusting that God will guide our steps (see James 5:13-18).
More than a Model
In these five ways, Jesus is a tremendous model for us in prayer. But we must be careful not to see Jesus only as our example in prayer. Graeme Goldsworthy warns us that to see Jesus merely as an example may be counterproductive.
Seeing how spectacularly well Jesus prayed may be demoralizing for some of us, reminding us of the many ways we fall short. Though I’m convinced we must hold Jesus out as a model to follow, if he is only a model we will surely fail.
Though prayer is a discipline we must improve on for the Lord, it is also, as Goldsworthy argued in Prayer and the Knowledge of God, “the fruit of what Christ has done for us.”
In short, the path to better prayer is not fundamentally praying because Jesus prayed, but praying because Jesus died and rose again.
It is through this death and resurrection that we find more than an example, we find a Savior who bore the wrath of God that we deserved, took the debt of sin that we accrued, and declared us righteous. That is grace.
And having received such plentiful grace, we pray. Not merely because Jesus prayed, but because Jesus died to give us hearts that long to pray.
So, as you look to the life and ministry of Jesus, by all means be encouraged to pray better.But do remember that the basis of prayer is not your desire to pray more! If you are a Christian, the basis of prayer is the fact that through Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection you have adopted as a son or daughter into the family of God. This will change your view of prayer. I love how Goldsworthy put it:
“How we view that relationship will determine, in turn, how we come to God in prayer and with what confidence. Prayer will never again be a sentimental excursion or an instinctive hitting of the panic button.
Nor will it be the presumption of an innate right to demand God’s attention. Rather it will be the expression of our entry into God’s heavenly sanctuary, which has been procured for us by our Great High Priest.
We need more than lessons to pray better. We need the gospel. So let us go back to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:14-16; 10:19-23) where we find an inexhaustible source of power to pray.
Aaron Menikoff (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Senior Pastor of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. He blogs at “Free to Serve” and is the author of Politics and Piety (Pickwick).
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Paola Aguilar