That Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees, why not make him tremble? Why not storm the very gates of hell? Nothing could please God more. In the conflict that is upon us, certainly we can ill afford to neglect one weapon Satan does not have in his arsenal and the one he fears the most—prayer.[i] —Ralph Herring
Prayer. We all say we believe in it. We sometimes practice it. But do we pray believing? How can we grow in prayer?
I’m convinced the place to start with prayer is with our Lord and his example. While the following is not exhaustive, here are some ways Jesus serves as our model in prayer. Let these truths encourage your prayer today.
First, he spent time in personal prayer. Mark 1:35 and other passages observe his penchant for private prayer. How is your private prayer currently?
Second, he prayed at important events (Matt 26:36-44; Luke 6:12). “Of course, we should do that,” you say. Important events call for prayer. But he prayed all night before calling the 12. When have you spent all night in prayer because of a vital matter? I admit, I’ve only been a part of two all-night prayer meetings. But most believers have never done so, or anything remotely related to this. Is prayer your first choice when facing an important decision?
Third, he taught the importance of prayer (Matt 6). The only thing the Gospels tell us the 12 specifically asked Jesus to teach them was to pray (Luke 11). The Lord’s Prayer, as we call it, offers a model of how to pray. Jesus always teaches his followers those things most vital to his heart. What are you learning just now about prayer?
Fourth, he prioritized seasons and places of prayer (Luke 5:16). On this occasion in Luke we read how our Lord often withdrew to a certain place. In this hyper-driven world of ours we need both a place and times of personal sabbath and retreat. Do you have a special place to seek the Father?
Fifth, he prayed when facing temptation and when suffering (Matthew 4:1-2). Both when facing the temptation of satan and during the agony of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed. As my colleague Chuck Lawless points out, prayer is vital in the real spiritual warfare we face as Christians. In addition, three of his statements on the cross were prayers. Suffering and temptation should drive us to our knees rather than driving a wedge between us and the Father. Do you turn immediately to God in prayer in times of temptation, or when facing suffering?
Sixth, he gave thanks (Luke 10:21). He gave thanks before miraculously feeding the five thousand, for instance. Are you a grateful person, and is your gratitude aimed at the good God who gives good things?
Seventh, he modeled prayer (John 17). John 17 reminds us Jesus prayed for his disciples then and for us even now. Do you see prayer as a means to be more like Jesus?
Eighth, he calls on us to pray for harvesters (Matthew 9:36-38). Jesus calls his disciples to pray for harvesters. When we share our faith, we are answers to that call to prayer! Will you be an answer to this prayer by sharing Jesus this week?
Finally, Jesus continues to intercede for us now! Hebrews 7:25 reminds us he always lives to intercede for us. Will you live confidently, knowing this fact?
[i] R. Herring, The Cycle of Prayer (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1966), 62–63.