The Passionate Prayer Life of Jesus
- 2010 24 Feb
"The Life of Jesus provides the model for our prayer lives. God is seeking to mold us into the image of His Son (Colossians 1:27-28). If we are to act like Christ, our prayer lives must be conformed to His. Many Christians are unwilling to pay the price that Jesus paid when it comes to interceding with God. Jesus' prayers came with vehement cries and tears and, ‘because of his godly fear', He was heard by the Father."
--Henry and Richard Blackaby
Jesus was passionate!
We saw it in the wonderful film The Passion of the Christ. He was passionate about the lost, He was passionate about life and death, and He was passionate about prayer. Jesus wasn't lukewarm or apathetic about prayer. No! He was on fire and fervent about it, and we must be too. We are living in a time when passionate prayer is needed for every nation.
Jesus modeled a lifestyle of prayer. He prayed often. Mark 1:35 says, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Jesus prayed in the desert and other lonely places (Luke 5:16), and he often prayed all night long (Luke 6:12). His prayers were with such intensity of focus that at the end of His life He even sweat great drops of blood when He prayed (Luke 22:44).
We may not sweat drops of blood, but we do know that sometimes prayer requires a wrestling in the Spirit with passion and fervency. Jesus never gave up, and He doesn't want us to give up in prayer. He says in Luke 18:1 that we should always pray and not give up. We read about the example of Jesus' passionate prayer life in Hebrews 5:7:
"During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayer and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission."
Luke's Gospel is labeled the Gospel of prayer. In this Gospel we see that whenever Jesus had to make a decision He prayed. He prayed before his conflict with the Pharisees, before choosing the disciples, and on the Mount of Transfiguration. And today He is still praying for us. Think about that! The prayers of Jesus were heard because He left it all up to God. In Heaven He is praying and always lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25).
Many of you are deciding to increase the level of prayer in your own life. Others of you are trying to develop a greater prayer focus in your church or ministry and are running into opposition and spiritual warfare. The enemy will try to stop prayer in any way he can because he fears the prayer movement that is increasing all over the world. I have felt the intensity of warfare.
Don't give up or let the enemy discourage you. Things will happen as you persevere. God delights in your prayers! Prayer is the most important thing you can do because after you have prayed, the fruit will come. When you plant seeds of prayer, they must grow. And when you pray God's Word over your life, ministry, family neighborhood and city, His Word will not return void.
Why did Jesus pray so passionately?
He knew that His authority and message came through prayer and through connecting with the Father in the power of the Spirit. Jesus always knew when He should withdraw and pray. He never became distracted by the work, because He always knew that power for the work came from God. More prayer equals more help and more blessing. Prayer was Jesus' continual lifestyle and practice. He prayed passionately for Himself and for other as he walked this earth.
And, no matter what our calling is in life, He wants to bring us into a deeper, a more passionate and intimate prayer life because He wants us to walk in a new level of power and authority. In the book Experiencing God Day-by-Day, Henry and Richard Blackaby exhort us to go deeper in prayer:
"Throughout history God has looked for those willing to yield everything to Him and His desire to redeem a world. At times God has marveled that no one was willing to go with Him (Isaiah 63:5, 59:16). The prophets seemed to grasp more than the common people, for while society carried on as though nothing were wrong, the prophets agonized and wept over what they knew God was preparing to do. God is calling you to go deeper in your prayer life with Him. If you are willing to be the person Jesus can take with Him into the most sacred moments, you will experience things only the angels shared with Jesus in the garden that night."
The Prayers of Jesus
We have several examples in Scripture of the passionate prayers of Jesus. His prayers glorified the Father and showed how deeply He wanted God's will to be done, even at great personal expense. His prayers demonstrated His deep love for us and His desire for our unity. Through His prayer, He teaches us how to pray to the Father. He teaches us to forgive. Imagine this! Heaven was opened when Jesus prayed and His very appearance changed.
"Jesus… went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning" (Luke 9:28-29).
"And as he was praying, heaven was opened" (Luke 3:21).
Meditate on each verse and think about the following examples of the prayers of Jesus:
- The Lord's Prayer - "This, then is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one'" (Matthew 6:9-13).
- Glorify Your Name - "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!' Then a voice came from heaven, 'I have glorified it, and will glorify it again'" (John 12:27-28).
- Glorify Your Son - "After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: 'Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him… and now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began'" (John 17:1-5).
- A prayer for believers - "…I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name - the name you gave me - so that they may be one as we are one…" (John 17:6-19)
- A prayer for unity and love - "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, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me…" (John 17:20-26)
- A prayer for God's will to be done - "Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will'" (Matthew 26:39-42, Luke 22:44).
- Father forgive them - "Jesus said, 'Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.' And they divided up his clothes by casting lots" (Luke 23:33-34, 46).
Jesus' Passion Is That We Would Pray
A football game is definitely a passionate occasion. Fans are in the bleachers waving, yelling, and jumping up and down. The air is filled with noise as one of the players catches the football, quickly looks around, and throws it with all his might to another player. The quarterback catches it and runs right and left, dodging his opponent. He finds an opening, races down the field, and makes a touchdown. By this time the crowd is screaming. Banners are wildly waving! Even the quiet ones surprise you with a sudden burst of unexpected emotion. This is what I call passion.
But as you look at this illustration, think about it personally.
Jesus' passion is that you and I would pray. He wants us to be passionate about prayer and excited without any reservations. He loves it when we earnestly seek Him and trust Him, praying diligently to the end. He loves it when we believe that prayer puts us on the winning team. Just as a football player runs with all his might and uses every ounce of energy to win, Jesus wants you and I to be passionate about prayer to that extent. He loves it when we passionately seek Him and embrace a life of extravagant devotion to God in prayer.
When you have made it your aim to grow in prayer, you have chosen a noble passion. When you have made it your goal to see prayer mobilized in your church or city, you have chosen a wise ambition. When you call upon God to teach you to pray as Jesus and His disciples did, you are praying a wonderful prayer. Every day when you say "yes" to prayer you make the Father glad.
In our travels to various nations, we are seeing increased desire to pray and to pray effectively, a passion in prayer such as we have never before imagined. The pursuit for prayer is not just an individual pursuit but churches, ministries, and cities are seeking God on a wider scale. Truly this is the end-times Church arising to her destiny. I am presently in the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. It's Saturday afternoon and there are a few hundred young people here in the prayer room. They are ones who want to have a passionate prayer life like Jesus and are making it their aim.
"I want to encourage you to embrace a life of extravagant devotion to God, without any regard to cost. I want to encourage it not only because you will have the greatest reward you can have at the end of your life, but because you will fulfill your destiny in God, and just because it is an incredibly enjoyable way to live."