Steps to model our own prayers after His
Posted in , Jun 26, 2022
We know that Jesus prayed. Of course He did. The Gospels make it clear that His life was saturated with prayer, that time spent alone with the Father was His lifeline, His source. If anyone has ever known how to pray, it was Jesus—right?
So why wouldn’t we look to Him as our model? Why wouldn’t we do as His closest followers did and ask, “Lord, teach us to pray?” Why wouldn’t we model our own prayers after His?
We can learn about praying when we’re tired and overwhelmed from Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.
We can learn about praying through our pain from Jesus’ prayers on the cross.
And we can learn about praying for others from the longest prayer of Jesus in the Bible, often called His “high priestly prayer,” in John 17.
While there are at least a thousand ways to pray, that chapter in John’s Gospel shows us a helpful pattern we can use in praying for others:
1) Pray for God’s glory. Jesus began His prayer for His closest followers, “Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you” (John 17:1 NIV). It’s so easy to pray for our own agenda; praying for God to be glorified helps to remind us that the goal of our prayers should not be for our desires to be accomplished, but God’s glory.
2) Remember the past. Jesus went on to pray, “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you” (John 17:6-7 NIV).
He went on, reminiscing about the recent past between Him and His disciples. He knew, of course, that the Father knew everything He knew. But remembering the shared journey He’d been on with His closest followers placed His coming requests in the proper context. So it helps when we pray to remember what God has done in the past for us and for those for whom we pray. We can recall the journey we’ve shared with those for whom we intercede.
3) Pray for the present. Next, Jesus prayed for His followers in the present: for their protection (v. 11), unity (v. 11), joy (v. 14) and their sanctification (vv. 17-19). That’s a dynamite prayer list for those we know and love, here and now.
4) Envision the future. The next thing Jesus did is extraordinary. Remember, He knew the cross was in His future, with its pain and agony of body and soul. Yet He lifted His gaze beyond Calvary and looked far into the future, praying, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one.... I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world” (John 17:20-21, 24 NIV).
Astoundingly, Jesus peered through the millennia, including all who would come to faith in the future—even you and I—in the prayer He prayed that night. His prayer can be a reminder to us that we can pray with hopeful, faith-filled vision as we appeal to God for the future of those we care about.
5) Affirm your faith. Like His ancestor David, who may have begun a psalm of prayer in a state of panic or fear but then ended on a note of praise, Jesus concludes His “high priestly prayer” with a strong affirmation: “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” (John 17:25-26 NIV). Similarly we pray well when, no matter how many tears or fears we confess in prayer, we end with an affirmation of God’s love and power.
Will these steps help you to “get quiet and pray?” I hope so. In fact, I pray so. Try it, and let me know in the comments how it went.