The Prayers of Jesus

By Royce Frederick

Jesus teaches us to pray, and He set the best example for us by praying in all kinds of situations.

He began His earthly ministry with a prayer after He was baptized: “...while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased’” (Lk. 3:21-22). Do you pray before beginning important work?

He prayed before choosing the twelve apostles. “...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; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” (Lk. 6:12-13). We should pray for God’s help before we marry, when we choose friends, and when we select such persons as elders, deacons, and civil leaders.

He thanked God for His method of teaching. “...I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight” (Matt. 11:25-26). Some people become “wise” in their own eyes and critics of God’s word, instead of students. We must humbly accept what God says in His written word (see Matt. 18:1-4; 1 Cor. 1:18-25; 1 Pet. 2:2).

He thanked God before meals. “...He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes...Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children” (Matt. 14:19, 21; see Mk. 8:6-9; Lk. 24:28-35; 1 Tim. 4:4-5). Do you pause to thank God for the food which sustains your life?

He prayed after feeding the 5,000. “...when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray” (Matt. 14:23). When God has blessed you, do you thank Him, or only ask for more?

He prayed while traveling. “And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him...” (Lk. 9:18). This occurred as they were traveling in the area of Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:13; Mk. 8:27). When we travel, it is good to pray for safety and help against temptations (see 1 Cor. 10:13).

He was transfigured as He prayed on a mountain. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening” (Lk. 9:29). A different kind of change occurs for us when we study and pray. Paul tells us to “ transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). Our mind is renewed by studying God’s word and talking to Him in prayer. When we pray, we give God our cares, and He gives us peace (1 Pet. 5:7; Phil. 4:6-7). And after this earthly life has ended, all faithful Christians — people who have studied, prayed, and served God — will be given an immortal body and will be like Jesus (2 Cor. 5:1; 1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Jn. 3:2).

He prayed for little children. “Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray…” (Matt. 19:13). “And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them” (Mk. 10:16). Parents should pray for their own children and others — and set a good example.

He prayed before raising Lazarus from death. “Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.’ Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And he who had died came out…” (Jn. 11:41-44). This and other scriptures suggest that prayers were often spoken before miracles (Matt. 17:21; 21:22). The apostles were empowered to work miracles, and they were able to lay hands on other Christians to enable them to work selected kinds of miracles (Acts 2:43; 5:12; 6:5-6 with 8:5-6; 8:14-18; 19:6; 2 Tim. 1:6; 1 Cor. 12:4-11). The apostles are not on earth today, and there is no one alive on whom the apostles laid their hands. But God still answers the prayers of Christians in wonderful ways, and grants abundant blessings for our physical and spiritual well-being (Jas. 1:5; 5:16; Eph. 3:20-21; Matt. 6:11-15; 7:7-11; Lk. 11:11-13). No person on earth today can raise the dead. But the same Jesus who called Lazarus from the tomb will some day shout, and raise all people from death: “...the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (Jn. 5:28-29).

He prayed when serving the Lord’s Supper. “...Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins’” (Matt. 26:26-28). On the first day of each week, we should gather with Christians to partake of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7). We should thank God for the grape juice and the unleavened bread, and for what they represent spiritually.

He prayed for His apostles. “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (Jn. 17:15-18). We should pray for the elders of the church, evangelists, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and civil leaders (see 1 Tim. 2:1-2; Col. 4:2-4).

He prayed for US. “I do not pray for these alone [the apostles], but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (Jn. 17:20-21). His will is that we be united in God and Christ. What is your will? To be united, we must turn away from all man-made religious names, doctrines, and practices — and carefully follow His written word (see Matt. 15:9, 13; Jude 3).

He prayed about His coming death. In Jerusalem, He said, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name” (Jn. 12:27-28a). “Then a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again’” (Jn. 12:28b). In Gethsemane, “...He knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.’ Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Lk. 22:41-44). There is also a prayer which He could have prayed, but did not. When the mob came to arrest Him, “...suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?’” (Matt. 26:51-54). We should likewise pray for God’s will to be done in all things (see Jas. 4:15; Acts 18:21; 1 Jn. 5:14).

On the cross, He asked God to forgive His enemies. “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him...Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do’…” (Lk. 23:33-34). He had taught that we must pray for our enemies and forgive them (Matt. 5:44; 6:12-15). Do you find it difficult to forgive the smallest offenses? Do you delay a long time before you forgive others? On the cross, Jesus prayed for His enemies while they were murdering Him.

On the cross, He prayed about His agony. “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” (Matt. 27:46). He was quoting Psalm 22:1 and expressing the agony of His heart. Jesus suffered severe physical agony. But the agony in Matt. 27:46 is extreme spiritual agony — a separation from God the Father, which He had never experienced before. God did not help Jesus on the cross. “Why?” Sin causes separation from God (Isa. 59:2). Jesus never sinned, but He bore our sins on the cross and endured that separation, taking the death penalty for us, so we can have forgiveness of our sins through His blood (1 Pet. 2:21-24; Rom. 6:23; 5:8; Eph. 1:7). Because of the love of God and Jesus for us at the cross, we can have forgiveness and eternal life (Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 3:16). “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus...” (Rom. 8:1). A sinner enters “into Christ” by baptism in water for the forgiveness of sins (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Acts 2:38; 8:35-38).

On the cross, He ended His earthly ministry with a prayer. “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last” (Lk. 23:46; see Psa. 31:5). He knew He had perfectly obeyed God and had completed His assignment on earth — to give His life for our sins. As His spirit departed, He fully entrusted it to His Father. His trust was not misplaced. On the third day, God raised Him from death! When the time of your departure comes, will you have full confidence in God and His eternal care? (See 2 Tim. 4:6-8, 18; 1 Jn. 2:28.)

Life is full of burdens and blessings, temptations and opportunities. Jesus shows us what it really means to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Do you pray in all kinds of situations as Jesus did?