For Jesus prayer was a lifestyle. It seems that He prayed at every major juncture and before every key decision in His life. He prayed in the morning (Mark 1:35). He prayed at night (Matthew 14:27), and sometimes all night (Luke 6:12). He prayed when He was alone (John 6:15), when He was with others (Matthew 11:15–26), and at public gatherings (Matthew 14:19). Scripture records eight actual prayers of Jesus, fourteen teachings of Jesus on prayer, eighteen references to Him praying, as well as three references to His intercessory prayer ministry after He ascended. Every one of His prayers was faith-filled, heartfelt, and fervent. The writer of Hebrews compacts the essence of Jesus’ prayer life into one sentence: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers 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” (5:7). Jesus was the paramount pray-er.
Jesus Christ was also the ultimate intercessor. Intercession was a major part of His prayer life. It’s from His intercessory prayer life and teaching that we especially want to learn.
Many passages of scripture record Jesus’ prayers for others. Matthew informs us that Jesus placed his hands on the little children that were brought to him and prayed for them (Matthew 19:13). Before raising Lazarus from the grave Jesus lets us in on the fact that He has been praying on the way there: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me” (John 11:41–42). After the Lord’s Supper Jesus reinstates Peter with the reminder, “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:32).
In His final prayer with His disciples Jesus intercedes for their protection, their joy, their sanctification, and their future place with Him in glory (John 17:9–17, 24). In the same prayer He intercedes that future believers will be one and that they may “also be in us [that is, in the Father and the Son]” (John 17:20–23). On the cross Jesus asks the Father to forgive those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34). Finally, forty days later, as He prepares to ascend to heaven, Jesus lifts up His hands and blesses those gathered (Luke 24:50). Intercession ran like a thread, maybe more like a rope, through the fabric of Jesus’ life.
–Adapted from Praying God’s Heart (Prayers that Make a Difference) by Alvin VanderGriend.
Precious Christ Jesus, I am awed that You always live to intercede for me! How blessed I am to have the example of Your prayer life laid out for me in Scripture! Prayer was and is Your very life! I long for the kind of intimacy You have with the Father! What a mystery that Your prayer life is living within me and that You pray Your heart through mine if I will yield myself to the voice of Your Spirit. I entrust my prayer life to You now, and thank You for the promise that when I come near to You, You will come near to me! Light the fire of intercession within me as I continually seek Your face!
Praise God as the source of all true wisdom and discernment (Col. 2:3). Thank him for supplying his church with the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and the ability to distinguish between spirits (1 Cor. 12:8-10). Confess those times when you have failed to discern the cultural influences that try to choke out spiritual growth and fruitfulness. Commit yourself to testing the spirits to see whether they are from God (1 Jn. 4:1). Ask God to make you more aware of the reality of spiritual warfare in your life (Eph. 6:10-12).
Ask God to lift the spiritual blindness from political leaders in your country, that they may make decisions that help create a wholesome and God-honoring society.
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend