Our Key to Life
The twelve disciples whom Jesus chose were no doubt
men who prayed. They had been raised in a culture
that valued and practiced prayer, and each of their hearts
must have been prayerfully tender toward God for each
man to leave everything and follow after Jesus when He
extended His call to them.
And yet, as the disciples went on to closely observe
Jesus, they consistently noticed a stark difference between
their way of praying and the prayer life of the Lord.
In the presence of these twelve men, Jesus both taught
and modeled a radical life of prayer, and it caught their
attention. We see this, for example, in Luke 11:1. Jesus
"was praying in a certain place," and when He finished,
"one of His disciples said to Him, 'Lord, teach us to pray.'"
They wanted something better than they already had; they
wanted the same reality and vitality of prayer that Jesus
So He taught them. And everything He taught, He
also lived out before them.
AT THE CENTER OF HIS LIFE
Jesus urged these disciples to always pray and never lose heart
(Luke 18:1), to "cry out day and night" to God (18:7), and
to keep asking and seeking and knocking with confident
assurance of the Father's loving heart (Matthew 7:7-11).
Hearing Jesus say these things, the Twelve could not forget
that even while He ministered to "great multitudes" through
continual preaching and healing, "He Himself often withdrew
into the wilderness and prayed" (Luke 5:16). They had
witnessed how the Lord rose "a long while before daylight"
and "went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He
prayed" (Mark 1:35). They knew their Master as One who
"went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night
in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12).
The conclusion was inescapable: Jesus' prayer life was
the key to both His life and ministry.
Throughout the scriptural record of the ministry of
our Lord, it's clear that prayer is one of the most marked
characteristics of His life. At each major juncture, at every
key decision point, we find Him in prayer.
It was true in the very beginning: At the time of His
baptism, it was "while He prayed" that "heaven was
opened" and the Holy Spirit came down upon Him like a
dove while the Father audibly assured Him, "You are My
beloved Son; in You I am well pleased" (Luke 3:21-22).
And it was true as well at the end, as Jesus continued
praying on the cross (Matthew 27:46; Luke 23:34,46).
Every part of our Lord's life was centered and guided
by His continuing communication with the Father.
IN CHRIST'S HUMANITY
So often, as we read about Jesus, we fail to make the connection
between His example and our own experience.
From God's perspective, however, the characteristics of His
Son's prayer life are to be true for every believer and every
We easily dismiss that fact. We tell ourselves, "Jesus was
the Son of God; of course His prayer life was outstanding.
But I'm only human; I can't be expected to pray as Christ
There are plenty of Scriptures to counter that argument,
and one of them is a profound passage we'll refer to
often in this book as we explore it phrase by phrase. For
catching the heart of Christ's prayer life in relation to the
Father, we know of no passage better than Hebrews 5:7-9,
which describes the intense manner and momentous
results of the prayers Jesus offered. These verses pull
together the entire prayer life of Jesus into a single, powerful
statement for our instruction. It teaches us the essence
of prayer, so we can more fully experience the intimate fellowship
with the heavenly Father that Jesus knew.
We want to draw your attention first to the significant
phrase that introduces this passage: "in the days of His
flesh." This expression emphasizes the human nature
Christ embraced during His earthly ministry. That wordflesh identifies Jesus with you and me; we have a Savior who
can identify with us because of the human form that He
assumed as He emptied Himself of His divine privileges
and came to earth as a man (Philippians 2:7-8). As we
study His prayer life, we're seeing Jesus in His humanity
praying to the Father, just as we pray to Him in our own
A few verses earlier in Hebrews we read how Jesus, as
our High Priest, can "sympathize with our weaknesses"
because He "was in all points tempted as we are, yet without
sin" (Hebrews 4:15). Whatever weaknesses, failings,
and weariness we've ever experienced in our prayer life, Christ understands! He was tempted in His prayer life as
well, and He knows how to help us faithfully resist those
temptations in the same way He successfully resisted them.
SETTING OUR HEARTS
Our passage in Hebrews goes on to tell us that "in the days
of His flesh," Jesus "offered up prayers and supplications,
with vehement cries and tears" (Hebrews 5:7). The
Amplified Bible words it this way: "In the days of His flesh
[Jesus] offered up definite, special petitions [for that which
He not only wanted but needed] and supplications with
strong crying and tears."
The clear emphasis is that the Son of God actively and
consistently prayed! And He did so with various kinds of
prayer and supplication (strong entreaty and pleading) to
In the days of His flesh, Jesus understood the seriousness
of communicating with His heavenly Father. In the
days of His flesh, He chose not to allow anything to discontinue
or hamper that fellowship.
What can be said of your life-in the days of your
flesh? Have you come to understand the importance of
maintaining communication with God above everything
else? What things have you let distract you from daily communication
with the Father?
If Jesus was convinced that His own life and ministry
depended upon His prayer life with the Father, we as well
must set our hearts to maintain uninterrupted time in
prayer with our Lord, for this is the key not only to our
ministry but to our very life as God intends it.
And when He had sent the multitudes away,
He went up on the mountain
by Himself to pray.
Now when evening came,
He was alone there.
From Norman:Early Morning Habit
Watching my parents over the years, I would definitely
characterize them as people of prayer. If you asked any of
the five children in our family what our dad was doing in
the early morning hours, each one would answer, "He's
praying and studying his Bible."
To this day when I visit their home, I know that no
matter how early I get up in the morning, my father will
already be in prayer and the Scriptures in his office.
One night last year our daughter became very ill. Some
time after midnight we decided to take her to the hospital,
where it was determined that she needed to have an IV put
in. Our daughter is very afraid of needles and we knew this
would scare her. We immediately wanted to telephone
Mom and Dad and ask for their prayers.
By then it was about three o'clock in the morning, and
about five o'clock where my parents live. We called them-and
they were already awake and ready to pray, just as I
It was such a comfort to me to know I could call at
such an early hour and know they would be praying as we
walked through a difficult sickness with our daughter.
Being in agony,
He prayed more earnestly.
Luke 22: 44