Prayer in the Bible involves the dialogue between God and people. Jesus' example and teaching inspires prayer. Mark emphasized that Jesus prayed in crucial moments. Jesus displayed a regular and intense prayer life. "After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone..." (Matthew 14:23 NIV) "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." (Mark 1:35 NIV) Jesus prayed for long period of time. "One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God." (Luke 6:12 NIV)
Significantly, the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray after watching Him pray. "One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." (Luke 11:1 NIV)
Jesus also corrected some abuses and misunderstandings regarding prayer.
1. Prayer is not to be offered to impress others. Jesus did not reject group prayer, but his warning might apply to a believer who prays to impress a congregation. "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:5-6 NIV)
2. Jesus also prohibited meaningless repetitious prayer. "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." (Matthew 6:7 NIV)
Jesus taught persistence in prayer.
"Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.' Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:5-28 NIV)
God is not like the reluctant neighbor, even though Christians may have to wait for answers. The ironies of prayer are evident: God knows our needs, yet we must ask; God is ready to answer, yet we must patiently persist. Children of the kingdom will have their request heard. "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." (Matthew 21:22 NIV)
CONCLUSION: Jesus prayed a lot. This should make us realized that all the more we need to pray, too. Prayer is our communication to God. It is acknowledging that we need Him.
This series is from my hand-out notes during our six months Church Membership Class in LWCM , Banilad, Cebu, Philippines. The class was conducted by our Senior Pastor Mel Caparros.