As I searched the Gospels studying this topic, I began to notice the larger context of the instances Jesus spent intensive time in prayer. No doubt Jesus had constant, ongoing prayer with His Father. But, since the Bible also tells of specific times He withdrew to pray, these should be noteworthy for us.
Since everything in God’s Word is purposeful – and not accidental or haphazard – I realized that knowing the motivation and purpose behind Jesus’ purposeful times of prayer should be important for His followers’ prayer lives too. Let’s take a look and when and why Jesus prayed.
5 Purposeful Prayer Times of Jesus
- Before an Important Decision (Luke 6:12-16) – The night before Jesus chose the twelve men who would be His apostles, He spent the entire night on a mountainside praying to the Father. He sought the wisdom and guidance of God first. I cringe to think about how often I’ve made big decisions without first taking enough time to seek God’s will and direction.
- To Prepare for Ministry (Mark 1:35-39) – Jesus made prayer first priority. “While it was still dark” He got up early in the morning and found a quiet place to pray. When His disciples found Him praying, He announced it was time to go and preach in the villages and the synagogues because that was why He had come.” Jesus was preparing in prayer for the work the Father had laid before Him.
- When He Received a lot of Attention (Luke 5:15-16) – As Jesus taught and ministered and performed miracles, “the news about Him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear Him” and be healed. Many of us might begin to think we were pretty great. Oh, Jesus knew who He was. But He also knew He came to point the way to the Father and to do it the Father’s way. So when all eyes were on Him, His eyes were on the Father. This passage tells us, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
- After a Spiritual High (Matthew 14:21-24) – Immediately after Jesus fed 5,000 plus people with just two fish and 5 dinner rolls, “He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray.” Why then? Soaring on great spiritual highs like this opens the door for many potential crashes. Most of us have been there. Pride from our hand in the event. Disappointment when the “high” begins to level off. Perhaps Jesus recognized the need to stay grounded in order to keep moving ahead. But we should follow His example and go straight to God in the afterglow of a spiritual high.
- For Strength to Face a Trial or Temptation (Luke 22:41-44) – The night Jesus was betrayed and arrested He spent intensive time of prayer in the Garden. He even asked His closet friends to pray with Him. He knew the hours ahead would not be easy. He knew the pain would be great. So He went to the Father. He poured out all His emotions. He asked for what He wanted. Yet He submitted to the will of the Father. And the Father strengthened Him for the task ahead (Luke 22:43).
Yes, let’s “pray without ceasing.” But let’s also be purposeful in more intense times of prayer. Jesus knew the importance. Let’s follow His example.
What other situations or instances in life have you found intense prayer to be vital?