Joey Sparks

4 Rules for Praying Like Jesus

Though prayer is something we all acknowledge is necessary, we still struggle with how to pray. There is no greater example of an intimate prayer life than that of Jesus himself. Notice four rules by which Jesus abided as he prayed:

1. Be Honest. Mere hours from dying for mankind, Jesus honestly prayed in agony for another way to redeem mankind (Matt. 26:38-44; Lk. 22:41-44). He was searching for another way to fulfill the mission for which he was sent.

We must constantly fight the temptation to simply pray for what “sounds good.” God is bigger than we can ever imagine; he can handle anything we throw at him. A prayer life built around pious formulas is not the prayer life Jesus led nor the one God expects.

2. Be Specific. In Matthew 6, when Jesus taught how to pray, he was short, but still specific: he mentioned the kingdom, food, forgiveness, and protection from sin. In John 17—the real Lord’s Prayer—he prayed for himself, the apostles and disciples, and future believers.

It’s good to pray for faithfulness, healing, and general thanksgivings. But as Christians striving to grow, we should be about the process of self-examination. Continually unearthing personal needs and weaknesses enables us to bring them specifically to the throne of God.

3. Be Responsible. In John 17, Jesus continually emphasizes the work he’s done on earth leading up to the cross (17:4, 6-8, 12-14, 22-24, 26). Had he been irresponsible with his work, it would have been of little value to beg God’s blessings regarding his work. In the model prayer in Matthew 6, he shows that receiving forgiveness is contingent upon our forgiving others (6:12).

God is great and mighty. But he does not act in ways we can and should do for ourselves. Asking for someone else to forgive us is empty if we are unwilling to go to that person ourselves. Praying for the lost to come to Christ is misguided if we are unwilling to teach them or provide the resources necessary to reach them. We should pray for God to act, but we must also act in response to our own prayers.

4. Be Accepting. When praying in Gethsemane, in the same breath Jesus asked to have “this cup removed,” he also prayed “nevertheless, not my will by yours” (Mt. 26:39; Lk. 22:42). Jesus knew that prayer was more than just asking for escape and changing of circumstances; he knew that it was also about strengthening himself to face God’s will no matter the cost.

A godly prayer life doesn’t seek to align God’s will to our desires and wishes. A godly prayer life seeks to align itself with God’s will. God longs for us to ask and to ask big (Matt. 17:20-21). But he ultimately longs for us to be people who continually submit to his will in all things. Praying like Jesus is the only way for us to get there.

Posted by Joey Sparks

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