One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1
I didn’t always love to pray. I think I had a fundamental misunderstanding of what “prayer” was for many years. It felt unnatural and formal. How many thous and thys did God prefer? What name did He want me to use when I addressed Him? And I was never quite sure if I was praying for His will or my own (okay, maybe sometimes I was absolutely sure it was my own. But was that always a bad thing?).
I wasn’t sure sometimes if I had any business approaching God at all that day because I had thought some not-so-nice things about that one person in my math class. And I wasn’t really that sorry about it yet.
What was the policy on coming to God with requests when I had sinned 10 minutes before: did I say a quick prayer of repentance every time I prayed, just to make sure He could hear me? And should I say thank you for a few things first to put Him in a good mood?
Maybe you can relate. Prayer can be daunting and confusing. Especially when you’re in a position where you just want to get this thing right!
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Jesus had a rich, intimate, enviable prayer life. Looking throughout the scriptures that comment on His life here on earth, we often find Him communing with the Father:
After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray. -Mark 6:46
It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. -Luke 6:12
In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. -Mark 1:35
And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” -Luke 9:18
He often sought seclusion to ground Himself once more with His Father. Jesus knew something that the rest of humanity regularly struggles with: He knew that identity, community, and ministry all flow out of oneness with the Father.
Oneness, or “abiding” through prayer solidified God’s identity: The great I AM. Eternal Creator. God-Head 3-in-1. Ever-Present Help. Righteous Judge. And He was the Father. This was the rock of truth that Jesus built all things on. He boldly went into the presence of His Father, sure of God’s identity, and His own.
And who did Jesus know Himself to be? He was the incarnate God-man. The Beloved Son. The chosen Messiah. The Suffering Savior. Victorious King. Because He knew who He was, it didn’t matter what anyone else said about Him. Jesus could not be rattled by the masses when they questioned His sanity, His authority, or His claim to deity and the Throne of Heaven.
That’s what connectedness to the Father does for us: it builds a solid foundation of who God is and who we are that cannot be moved.
Jesus’ prayer life also guided His mission while He was here on earth. He was centrally focused on doing His Father’s will, because He knew what the Father’s will was. Jesus didn’t have a “God card” that He pulled at will, like some supercharged credit card. It’s not as if He shut off His humanity when it was convenient so He could tap into His “God-ness” and perform a miracle or two and know when to go to such-and-such and place at such-and-such a time would be optimal. He was totally and entirely dependent on God’s leading. God’s will was Jesus’ will.
And He did this because He regularly sought out God’s presence in prayer.
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The Holy Spirit used this passage as a huge part of my breakthrough in my prayer life, and I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you.
Prayer doesn’t have to be confusing.
Prayer doesn’t have to be daunting.
Prayer should be meaningful, deep, rich, convicting, encouraging, and fulfilling, filled with praise and repentance and teachable moments and wrestling with hard things and seasons of quiet… because that is how all intimate relationships are.
The goal of this series is for you, dear reader, to be able to approach the throne of God throughout your day, confident of who He is, confident who you are to Him, and able to both hear His voice and communicate effectively to your Father. Because in the end, that’s all prayer really is!
Stick around. We’re going to tackle this one verse at a time, from the lips of Jesus, the intercessor Himself. Who better to teach us how to pray and what to pray, than the One who is literally sitting at the right hand of God making intercession for us at this very moment!
“Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to Godthrough Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.” -Hebrews 7:24-25