Jesus had a public ministry for only three and a half years, but his ministry of prayer will forever impact the church. How did he pray? What did he pray for? Who did he pray for? These are questions believers need to delve into to learn the best way to communicate with our heavenly Father.
Let’s look at the type of prayers Jesus offered up to God in heaven.
1. Prayers to Resist Temptation
Before Jesus started his public ministry, He went into the wilderness, a place which would become his spiritual boot camp (Matthew 4:1-11). You may think Jesus didn’t need any kind of training but remember, He was showing us how to trust God in all circumstances. Yes, He was fully God, but he also took the form of man and set aside His powers to endure the time as a mere man.
During this 40-day period, He fasted and as anyone who has missed a couple of meals knows, the weakness from lack of food makes one vulnerable to temptation. Satan showed up and suggested He prove He was really God by turning stones into bread. As His empty stomach rumbled, Jesus stood on Scripture to remind Satan that “Man does not live on bread alone,” (Matthew 4:4). Satan tried twice more to trick Jesus into proving he could overcome death and that he could be all powerful, but two times again Jesus spoke Scripture to him, and Satan fled.
Although not technically a prayer, He models how to fight temptation with God’s word when we pray.
2. Prayers of Forgiveness
How many times did Jesus have to forgive those who came in contact with him? Probably daily or even hourly as the priests and Pharisees continually made efforts to challenge Jesus and trip him up.
One of the greatest prayers the Son of God prayed was when Roman soldiers gambled for his clothes at the foot of the cross. His prayer for them? “Forgive them for they know what they do,” (Luke 23:34). Hanging on a cross, in utter pain and anguish, Jesus prayed for those who had trivialized his mission and mocked his suffering.
3. Prayers of Praise
Luke 10:21 shows Jesus praising God for hiding things from the wise and revealing truth to little children.
And in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), he began with the phrase, “Hallowed be thy name.” There aren’t a lot of spoken examples recorded in Scripture of Jesus praising his heavenly Father. But a model of praise is found in the first line of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus starts by saying, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9).
According to Dictionary.com, the word, “hallowed” means, to make holy; sanctify; consecrate, to honor as holy; consider sacred; venerate: to hallow a battlefield.
4. Prayers of Submission
One of the greatest examples of Jesus’ prayer of submission happened in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew his life was drawing to a close. And being human, he understood the end would be painful.
Matthew 26:39 says, “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’”
Jesus could have had a stoic mindset, shaking off pain. But instead we see His humanness as He struggled with His impending death. He made an honest request of the Father, but ultimately submitted to His will.
5. Prayers of Intercession
If you want to see the Fatherly love for his followers, read John 17 where Jesus knits his followers together in a poignant prayer, preparing them for a time when they would be without Him.
“I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one,” (John 17:9-11).
Jesus prayed for his disciples, knowing his time was short. He had a burden to get them ready to continue His ministry on earth, knowing they were feeble men with plenty of character flaws. One was impulsive and fearful, another had ambitious motives to make a name for himself. How would they be able to carry on the mission? In this prayer Jesus got his small band of men ready to take the gospel to the world.
But Jesus not only prayed for his immediate disciples, his prayer stretched out over future centuries where many would have to take difficult stands as believers.
“I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power ofyour name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” (John 17: 20-21).
Because Jesus was the true representative of God on earth, it makes sense to pattern our prayers after His as we learn to communicate with Almighty God. Our prayers should focus around praising God, submitting to God, forgiving others, and interceding for ourselves and others.
Carol Stratton is a novelist, reporter and freelancer. Carol has penned 500 articles, and two books, Changing Zip Codes, and the award-winning debut novel, Lake Surrender, (inspired by her work with autistic students). Currently she working on a sequel to her first novel and keeping up with her blog. She speaks to women’s groups such as Mothers of Preschoolers. Married to her literary muse, John, they have four children and eight grandchildren in North Carolina. She loves to encourage new writers and readers who have moved. Connect with her at her CarolGStratton.com and on Twitter and Facebook.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Aaron Burden