3 Prayers of Jesus and How They Can Transform Your Prayer Life
By Sarah Frazer, Crosswalk.com
As a child, I loved playing “Simon Says.” In this game, the caller tells the rest of the players to imitate him, but only if he says the words “Simon says.” We would listen to instructions and for those words, “Simon says.” Sometimes the game would trick us and we would follow the commands without hearing, “Simon says.” As Christians, we have the Bible to follow, but how do we know what to do? Who are we going to look to in order to understand the commands given?
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul commands the Christians to “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Paul wasn’t telling them just to follow him, but to ultimately follow Christ. If you’ve ever read the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) you know that there are many lessons we can learn from Jesus’ life. Today, let’s dive into the prayers of Jesus in order to unearth some truths that can transform our own prayer life.
Jesus’ Prayer Before Raising Lazarus
While on earth, Jesus performed many miracles. In John 11, we read about a prayer Jesus prayed right before he performed one of the most memorable miracles. When Lazarus, one of Jesus’ friends, became sick, Jesus was a few days' journey away. When He returned, He walked to the tomb of his friend, weeping. After coming to the tomb, He commanded the stone to be rolled away. It was in this moment, while the stench of death fills the air, that Jesus lifted His eyes to heaven. John records Jesus’ words here.
“So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’” John 11:41-42
In His prayer, Jesus declared a truth we all need. In the middle of the tears, the heartache, and the confusion of death, Jesus said, “I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me.” Jesus knew something we needed reminding of: God always hears our prayers.
How many times have we struggled with understanding our circumstances? Life is filled with injustice and heartache. But Jesus declares a truth we can hold on to: God hears our prayers! (Psalm 4:3, Psalm 34:17, Psalm 55:17)
Jesus’ Prayer Before the Cross
The next prayer is one Jesus’ prayed right before going to the cross. Many have called the prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 the “Lord’s Prayer.” Jesus prays a prayer in Matthew that was meant to teach us how to pray, but in John 17, we find Jesus’ actual prayer to the Father. During His time with His disciples, right before being arrested and then ultimately put on the cross, Jesus gave His followers some final thoughts before His death. The Apostle John recorded three chapters filled with commands and comforts Jesus said that night. After telling them all He wanted, Jesus then prayed. John 17:1 says, “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:…”
Jesus prayed for three things and in these three things, we find truth that changes not only how we live but our prayers to God. The first is that Jesus prayed for God to be glorified (John 17:1-5). Jesus’ whole life was spent glorifying and bringing honor to God the Father. Today many believe Jesus stands beside the Father and continues to pray this for us. But how do we respond? First, do we seek to glorify God the Father with our prayers? Sometimes I find myself trying to just skip praising God in my prayers and go straight for the requests. Although God cares for my needs and wants to hear my requests, does my prayer life spend enough time simply glorifying the Father?
Next, Jesus prays for His disciples (John 17:6-19) He prays for their unity and their love. He prays that God protects them because they would be the first people to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. After becoming a Christian we just assume we will get along with everyone else. Jesus knew this wasn’t the case, so He prayed for our unity. Do I pray for the unity of the Church? Do I pray for love and unity within the relationships I have? I admit sometimes I just want others to change so I can get along with them. Instead, may I remember God has called all of us to be a part of the Body of Christ. May we seek unity through prayer on a regular basis.
Finally, Jesus prays for all believers (John 17:20-26) Do you pray for the gospel to reach the ends of the earth? Missionaries and mission work is all around us. Although we like to say, “I’m praying for our missionaries.” Do we? Christ’s prayer reminds us that we need to pray for all believers all over the earth!
Jesus’ Prayer on the Cross
The final prayer we are going to look at is the prayer of Jesus on the cross. Matthew, Mark, and Luke record three phrases Jesus says while suffering on the cross. Although we cannot fathom or compare our own suffering to that of our Savior, we can rest assured that Jesus’ suffering shows us how to walk the road of suffering through prayer to the Father.
The first is a call for forgiveness. “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) While God was the one who allowed, planned, and made the way for Jesus to go to the cross, it was sinful man who did the work of putting Him there. Our suffering might come at sinful hands. Are we seeking forgiveness when we pray? If we have bitterness in our hearts, the enemy would like nothing more than to use those feelings to create a barrier between God and us. Don’t let the bitter root of unforgiveness keep you from a relationship with God. Forgiveness is a matter of the heart.
In both Matthew and Mark, we see the phrase, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46, Mark 15:34) Many scholars believe Jesus is speaking during the time God was pouring all of the wrath of mankind onto Him. God the Father had to turn His face away from Jesus because He couldn’t even look at Him. This phrase is a comfort for us because we never have to say these words. Jesus took the punishment for our sins so that we could say God will never leave or forsake us.
If you are a Christian and have accepted Jesus as your savior, God will never turn His gaze from you. He will never stop caring for and loving you. Although there are times we pray and feel as If God isn’t listening - this just isn’t the case. Jesus’ prayer on the cross reminds us that God is always listening.
The final prayer Jesus prays on the cross comes right before He breathes His last. He says, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). As death approached, Jesus knew His work had finished. He was now leaving earth, and this earthly body, to rejoice God in heaven. As we pray, we can remember that death is not the end. Although we might feel the loss and grief overcome everything - it just isn’t the case. Jesus defeats death and when Christians die, we are taken to be with God.
What comfort we find in these prayers of Jesus, our Lord. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus prayed a myriad of prayers. There were more prayers we don’t have recorded. But the ones we do have, have a deep and lasting impact on our lives today. We can look at these prayers and discover truths that will transform our prayer life. God always hears us. We should be praying for the unity of the Church. And God does not abandon us during our times of suffering.
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Sarah E. Frazer is a wife, mother, and writer who loves to strengthen and encourage the weary mom to connect with God so that she can replace feelings of discouragement, disillusionment, and disappointment with God’s daily peace. Sarah is the author of several Bible study resources found on her website, sarahefrazer.com/shop. Follow her on Instagram here and download her Psalms of Gratitude for free here.