Chapter 16: Understanding Jesus’ Patterns of Prayer

Jesus prayed before the important events and decisions of his life

Jesus withdrew to the mountains to be alone with God and pray as he faced this momentous decision. He didn’t choose twelve and then ask God to bless his choice. No, he spent the night in prayer before he chose the twelve. When faced with decisions, whether they appear important or not, we need to follow the example of our Lord!

In Luke 6, Jesus is face with this sort of decision. He has come to earth to show and teach people what God is like and have an everlasting relationship with God. He only has three years of ministry, and by Luke 6, almost half of that is gone. He knows and realizes that one of the things he must do is pass on the essential truths of why He came to a few people who then in turn pass it on to others after He is gone. For over a year, He has been gaining hundreds of followers, but He knows that most of them have not clue about who He really is, or why He truly came. So He must choose out a few to teach and train so that they might continue to minister to others when He goes back to heaven. The eternal weight of the world is on His shoulders, and He must choose a few good men to pass that heavy weight to their shoulders.

we see that Jesus prepares Himself as well as He can for this incredibly important decision. And the amazing thing about it, is that unlike us, He doesn’t get a good night of sleep. When we face a difficult decision, or a rough day ahead, we think the most important thing is to get a good night of sleep. Jesus, on the other hand, realizes that the most important thing for Him is to be in touch and communion with God. The most important thing for Jesus is to spend the night praying.

Jesus is not only praying for the choice he must make the next day, but also for the healing (Luke 6:17-19) and teaching (Luke 6:20-49) He would do. Jesus always makes prayer his number one priority, because without prayer, His ministry would have no power. Did Jesus think carefully about His choice? Certainly. Did he watch his disciples interact with one another and base his decision on that? Of course. But prayer and communication with God was the primary step in making such a decision. …..whenever we see Jesus facing a critical decision, or an important action, he spends extra time in prayer. Prayer becomes more important for Jesus than food or rest. Prayer was His spiritual lifeblood. It is His wide open secret to being connected with God.

What is Luke getting at here?  The prayer of God is a deep communion that Christ has with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  So, it wasn’t that Jesus was up all night praying, but He was up all night is deep fellowship and communion with the Father, reviewing the disciples one by one.  The Trinity was deliberating.  This isn’t an indicator as some might think that Jesus was simply a man in need of God’s guidance, but for 33 years God the Son did take on man’s flesh and much of our weakness.  He was tired, and needed the Father’s aid.  He needed the Father’s guidance as He selected the twelve.

Jesus prayed after the significant achievements of His life

If we are to live as true followers of Jesus, we will be intentional about the practice of solitude. Let’s look at 10 different times in Jesus’ life when he made solitude a priority:

  1. To Prepare for Ministry
    In Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus fasts for 40 days in the wilderness in preparation for the inauguration of his ministry.We should seek solitude to intentionally prepare for future ministry.
  2. To Grieve
    In Matthew 14:13, Jesus receives the bad news of John the Baptist’s execution and withdrew by himself to grieve.We should seek solitude to recover from inevitable losses and disappointment.
  3. After Success
    In Matthew 14:23, Jesus went up on a mountainside by himself to pray—right after feeding the 5,000.We should seek solitude in order to recover from a great victory that leaves us feeling tired and depleted.
  4. Hear From God
    In Matthew 17:1-9, Jesus seeks the silence of a lonely mountain and God speaks through the transfiguration.We should seek solitude in order to intentionally listen to God’s Spirit.
  5. Before a Major Challenge
    In Matthew 26:36-40, Jesus wants to pray alone in the garden before he faces the cross.We should seek solitude so we can find our quiet center and pray as a looming challenge approaches.
  6. To Gain Perspective
    In Mark 1:35, Jesus went off to a solitary place to pray following and during an intense season of ministry. He gains perspective as he talks with his Father and prepares for things to come.We should seek solitude to gain a clear perspective that leads to wise decisions.
  7. As an Example
    In Mark 6:31, Jesus invites the disciples to come away to a quiet place and rest after an intense season of ministry. He’s teaching the disciples the importance of the practice of solitude.We should seek solitude as an example to others who live noisy lives.
  8. For Renewal
    In Luke 5:16, we learn that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray. He does this after draining seasons of life.We should seek solitude for rest, rejuvenation, and renewal.
  9. For Wisdom
    In Luke 6:12, Jesus spends the entire night on the mountainside praying before he chooses his disciples.We should seek solitude to find wisdom in choosing who we will serve alongside.
  10. To Find Direction
    In John 8:1, after the people debate whether Jesus is the Messiah and the Pharisees consider arresting him, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives while everyone else went home. In the midst of conflict, Jesus is seeking direction and clarity.We should seek solitude to find direction in the midst of internal and external conflict.

With so many instances when Jesus needed solitude, what makes us think we can just delete it from our lives?

Jesus prayed when life was unusually busy

Prayer is the kind of priority that lies at the root of all the others — at the root of life itself. It’s a lot like eating; if we rarely eat, our physical health will suffer. We’ll be weak and sick. It will affect our ability to carry on the activities of life. In a similar way, if we rarely pray, our spiritual life will lack vitality. We’ll approach the challenges and successes of life on our own, as though we’re not totally dependent on God even for life itself.

Prayer is the grease, we might say, that keeps the gears and wheels of life in good working order. Without prayer, we see ourselves as alone against the world, left to fend off the storms of life on our own wits and brawn. It is in the course of prayer that we learn to see the true state of things — that we are creatures within a creation, creatures dependent on our Maker and on all the other parts of the creation, and as such, never alone.

We make priorities out of things we care about. It isn’t that we don’t care about prayer, it’s just that it often seems like just one more chore on top of all the other chores, and since God doesn’t cry when he doesn’t get his dinner or send collection agents out to repossess the washing machine, we tend to put prayer farther down the priority list.

Spending this time with God is great therapy. Therapy is remedial treatment of a bodily disorder, whether physical, emotional or psychological. When we think of prayer as much needed therapy, rather than as “our Christian duty,” it puts prayer into a clearer perspective, I think. When we go through our daily, weekly, monthly routines without acknowledging God as the root and core of our lives (which he is), our attitudes, emotions, psyche, even our bodies, suffer the ill effects of trying to live as though we are self-existent — not dependent on God and his creation for our life and being.

To hand over our concerns to God, whether for ourselves or for others, reminds us that our lives and future are in God’s hands. Even our past, with all its baggage of sin, selfishness and ignorance, is in God’s redemptive hands. The act of acknowledging God as the loving, wise and powerful Being that he is is remedial treatment for fear, worry and frustration. 

The point is, see prayer as a priority that will make all your other priorities more manageable and less stressful. Let your prayer time be a time to relax, to let God’s love bathe and salve your frayed nerves, your taut emotions, your exhausted and frightened heart. Let prayer time be your time to rest in God, to let him renew your strength, brighten your hope, sharpen your faith.

Jesus prayed when He was overwhelmed with need

When I run to God’s Word, even just one verse, I find that God is my “refuge and strength, an ever-present help in of trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NIV). When I run to Him, I find that my refuge isn’t an escape from my stress. God is my refuge. I’m reminded once again that my strength doesn’t come from me and my stamina or drive. My strength comes from the Lord.

He is the rock that is higher than I am. When I run to His Word, I discover that His law is “my delight” and it protects me and keeps me from totally freaking out or giving up or falling apart. (Psalm 119:92) He really is the Rock that is stronger and higher than anything you and I face.

And, when you find yourself sheltered in the truth of His Word and in the sanctuary of His presence, all the stress that overwhelmed you and felt bigger than you suddenly shrinks down to the pebble size it really is!

God’s Word gives you the perspective you need. God’s presence gives you the peace you need, so run away sister … run to the Rock who’s waiting to shelter and settle you.

Chapter 16 Questions

  1. Pg 120: Bill Thrasher discusses Jesus going off to pray before He chose the Twelve. Share a time when you went to prayer before a big decision. Or have you had the experience of deciding THEN going to God to have Him bless your decision.
  2. Pg 121: Discuss Thrasher’s statement , “after success is when it is easiest to be the most prayer less“. Agree/ disagree, why or why not !
  3. Pg 121: Thrasher’s statement pertaining to Jesus’ time to pray alone , the result was that He went from victory to victory as the Father prepared Him for the next miracle and ministry. Does this encourage you to increase your prayer time after experiencing answered prayer/ success ?
  4. Read Matt 14:23: How do you practice solitude with the Father ?
  5. Pg 123:  Discuss Thrasher ‘s conclusion – I came to this conclusion you do not spend time with God, You invest it. Time alone with Him can be one of the greatest time savers of your life
  6. Pg 123: Discuss Thrasher’s conviction when you are busy – The conviction I came to was that God would never give me so much to do that I could not accomplish it after having time with Him.
  7. Pg 122-123: What three things that you can experience/ gain when you have your time alone with the Lord
  8. Pg 125:  “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. … Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest“. Share a time when God has “awoken “ you through a sense of need.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *