How Jesus Prayed

Bob F. Owen

MANY YEARS AGO I HEARD Harry Pickup, Sr. tell the story of a little boy in Sunday School who, along with the rest of the class was drawing a crayon picture to relate a Bible story. The children had been working on their pictures for some time when the teacher noticed this one little boy had quit drawing and was down on the floor between the little chairs, on his knees. When asked what he was doing, he replied, "I'm asking Jesus to help me draw this picture."

The unashamed and unabashed manner of this child's praying is not unlike that of the Lord Himself during His earthly ministry. While His praying never had any semblance of a public spectacle, neither was it a secret that He prayed and that he prayed often.

Sometimes Jesus made only a one-sentence appeal to the Father. Some-times he prayed all night. Obviously He prayed before making great decisions such as the selecting of the twelve. All know He prayed through the night before the agonies of the cross. Perhaps the greatest significance is not the technique of His praying but the fact that he prayed at all. If prayer was so meaningful to Him surely we should be "oft in prayer."

Quite obviously, prayer is multi-purposed. While it is true that we are to "repent and pray" for the pardon of sins (Acts 8:22; James 5:16), and to make our "requests known unto God" (Philippians 4:6) it would be unfortunate if our praying emphasized only these items.

Jesus had no sins, yet He prayed often. Jesus knew all things and could work miracles and could call down the angels for assistance but He appealed to the Father for help.

In Luke 11:1 the disciples noted the praying of Jesus. They must have known what He was doing for "when he ceased" one of the disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. In the two preceding chapters at least five other references are made to praying including two cases where Jesus "went apart" for that purpose. The Lord prayed. He prayed often. He made specific occasion for praying.

The frequency and the intimacy of Jesus' praying reflects the companionship Jesus felt with the Father. The fact that He would go apart from His disciples to be with the Father in prayer shows a common bond and togetherness we can describe as intimate.

We could debate the chicken-and-the egg-question as to whether an intimate association with the Lord prompts prayer or whether prayer prompts the intimate relationship. The fact remains that the two will go together. We need to feel the constant presence of God in our lives for purpose and strength. We cannot have this in the absence of prayer.

The value Jesus places on prayer can likewise be seen in two parables from Luke 18. A widow who had been wronged took her case to court and found herself before a judge "who feared not God, and regarded not man." Repeatedly she made her appeal. Finally, he granted her wish lest he be worn out "by her continual coming."

The Scripture tells the purpose of this parable: that men should continue to pray and not give up. This is an illustration by Jesus Himself. He strengthens the point further by arguing that if a selfish and unjust judge can be persuaded to action, how much more readily will a loving, caring God be moved to action by the cry of His children?

On the heels of this parable Jesus showed that the character of the one praying and how he prays is important. A haughty, self-righteous Pharisee thanked God that he was so wonderful. A publican (a tax-collector who would have been a social outcast) stood at a distance and humbly asked for God's mercy. Jesus shows it was the latter who was heard.

Like human fathers, God is moved by the repeated requests of His children. He is most influenced when those who are intimate companions and who are morally righteous come to Him humbly and sincerely. These prayers would not be simply a list of favors requested. They would be warm, personal visits with a beloved friend and would reflect the genuine joy of being allowed such an honored relationship.


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