How to pray like Jesus

“Jesus Christ gave the world a perfect example of walking with God and talking to God. No man can walk with God who does not talk to him and hear (obey) his word. Most people today look upon prayer as a tool for the poor, hungry, suffering, diseased and hopeless. People who have reasonable health and security, a good job and comfortable home surroundings have little use for prayer except for the common ritual when they "go to church" and occasionally just before a meal. Jesus Christ was a man of prayer while he lived among men. He taught his disciples to pray in his great Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 6:5-13). [1]

When Jesus prayed people saw a difference. I believe when Jesus was on His knees praying, this was a most powerful thing. This was a great demonstration of divine power.

If prayer was important to the incarnate Son of the Living God, then how important should prayer be to us?

How much more should we depend on prayer?

Let’s look at some snapshots, of Jesus’ prayer life.

Jesus slipped away to pray

“So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed” (Luke 5:16).

Jesus would withdraw Himself, slip away to pray. People slip away to do the things they love. Jesus was in the labor of the kingdom, and He would slip away to converse with His Father.

You know you’re walking with God when you slip away to Him. When your habit is to slip away to Him, to escape and rest, in the face of in the face of busyness and grinding labor, then your habit is like Jesus’. He is your place of rest.

When prayer becomes a labor, we’re not breathing the spirit of Jesus. When this happens, we need to slip away to somewhere private, somewhere quiet to be with God, to recharge.

Jesus prayed all night

“Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” (Luke 6:12-13).

It is amazing that He would spend all night in prayer to discern the Father's voice, to make an important decision, to pick the men to be His apostles.

Have we ever prayed all night to make an important decision?

Jesus awoke before daylight

“But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once. So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. And she served them. At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him. Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, ‘Everyone is looking for You’” (Mark 1:30-37).

What was the consequences of Jesus healing Simon’s mother-in-law? The whole city showed up at Peter's door. They brought their sick and afflicted. Can you imagine the scene? People were desperate, they needed help. They were poor, they were broken, they were suffering, they were dying. They may have been violent, angry, pressing, wanting to get in, wanting to be healed.

And the The Lord was working away, no doubt feeling weary.

The Greek verb indicates that they "kept on bringing people to Him," so that He must have gone to sleep at a very late hour. 

He would have been exhausted, worn out, worked to the bone.

However, late hours, exhausting hours, did not keep Jesus from His appointed meeting with His Father early the next morning. 

If anyone had the right to say, I'm exhausted, I've poured myself out, I've done enough, I need to sleep in, it was Jesus.

Yet, he woke up before daylight, to pray to the Father. The Saviour knew how important it was for Him to withdraw from the distractions and pressures of the world around Him, and to focus His attention solely on God.

What an example for us to follow! It is no surprise that Jesus had such authority and power when His prayer life was so disciplined.

How often do we get up before daylight to pray?

Jesus fought spiritual battles on His knees

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand’” (Matthew 26:36-46).

Do you know the war that was fought in Gethsemane?

The cup points to His suffering as He endures the wrath of God which will be poured out on Him because of man’s sin! Jesus is One who knew no sin and He was soon to be made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). His Father would even forsake Him in the hour when He would become sin (Matt. 27:46).

That is why His soul shrinks from the cross. “Jesus would be one with sinners in his death, he would experience the death that is due to sinners, and it seems that it was this that brought about the tremendous disturbance of His soul that Matthew records.”

What a struggle? What a conflict! How great that burden must have been. We cannot comprehend what it meant for One so holy to become sin.

“Battles are fought with weapons. Ancient wars were fought with swords, spears, the bow and arrow. Modern wars are fought with missiles, bombs, torpedoes, chemicals.

"Spiritual battles are fought with weapons, too! Our weapons are spiritual (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).” [2] Paul gives us a list of weapons we are to take as we battle against the devil (Ephesians 6:11-17). 

“Christ employed weapons in this conflict. He does not run from the conflict, He faces it head on with mighty weapons of warfare. He employed the Word of God when He was tempted of the devil in the wilderness. Now He employs the weapon of prayer. 

Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray.” [3]

“Prayer is a mighty weapon. Prayer and the word of God are the primary means God has given to us to win the conflicts we are engaged in. And our Saviour used those same weapons. What Jesus prays for is that the cup be removed, if it is possible.” [4]

“Though Christ prays such a prayer, He will not allow anything to conflict with the will of God. “Let this cup pass from me,” He cries, but He also exclaims, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” He is not trying to impose His will upon the Father! He is in complete submission to the will of His Father. All He had sought to do during His entire earthly ministry was to do the will of the Father. 

“He was born to complete this task (Matthew 1:21)… He insists that the Father’s will be done! And He affirms that He will accomplish it irrespective of the cost!” 

“This prayer is repeated three times. There are three separate withdrawals to pray.” [5]

While Jesus was in agony praying, He exhorted the three disciples with Him to “watch and pray.” Jesus wanted their support and strength but they failed to give it. What a sad scene! Rather than understanding the conflict, they went to sleep …

  • How often do we leave our prayers to the very last minute of the day, when we are absolutely exhausted, before falling a sleep?
  • How often do we fall asleep when we are praying to God?
  • How often do we fail to complete our prayers?

Failure to be spiritually alert and failure to pray will lead to failure when temptations come! We have frail, weak bodies and a sinful nature! We must be vigilant! Because of the failure of human nature there is the constant need for prayer. A willing spirit is not enough; it must be supplemented by prevailing prayer.

When Jesus got off His knees the battle was over!

Christ Jesus was victorious in the Garden! We often speak of the victory that was won at the cross, but had not this skirmish been successful, there would have been no triumph at Calvary. The victory is found in the words “your will be done.” Victory came in His complete submission to the will of the Father.

The war was fought there.

In the conclusion to the whole armour of God, Paul says, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18).

Prayer is the energy that enables the Christian soldier to wear the armour and wield the sword. We cannot fight the battle in our own power, no matter how strong or talented we may think we are. When Amalek attacked Israel, Moses went to the mountaintop to pray while Joshua used the sword down in the valley (Exodus 17:8-16). It took both to defeat Amalek—Moses’ intercession on the mountain, and Joshua’s use of the sword in the valley. Prayer is the power for victory.

Jesus prayed for God’s will to be done

“I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5:30).

Jesus said, “I can do nothing without God.” “I can do nothing!”

Jesus was totally committed to the will of God, and this is what we are called too.

If He prayed all night, how much do we need to pray to do the will of the Father?

Prayer is the beginning of slaying ones will and submitting totally to God.

Jesus is the dependent man, and this is just where we fail. He withdraws Himself and prays. Ever the dependent, as the obedient and victorious man. It's Jesus' dependence upon God that brought the obedience and victory.

  • How many thorns do we have in our lives?
  • How many do we have to put up with?

As the hymn goes:

“O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear;
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.”

Because we don't take the matter to the Lord until the victory is won.

There are so many mountains in our life, so many obstacles in our life; that seek to derail us, seek to make us fall, seek to bring our pilgrimage to a stop.

They are just not going to go away, they need prayer. And they won't go away until we fall on our face before God, and until He delivers us.

Jesus prayed persistently

Jesus did not say, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Jesus said, “Go on asking, and it will be given to you; go on seeking, and you will find; go on knocking, and it will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). I say this because, in the Greek, the verbs are in the continuous present tense, which means to go on doing something.

This squares up perfectly with the following four verses,

“And He said to them, ‘Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him”; and he will answer from within and say, “Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you?”’

“I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs” (Luke 11:5-8).

Beloved, we are to be persistent, we are to go on asking!

That is why Jesus taught us to pray at all times and not lose heart. We need to pray at all times without ceasing.

The initiating of prayer is not a problem. The question is, have we wrestled them through? Have we pressed on in to lay hold? Have we kept going? Is there petitions in our mind on pieces of paper that have been there for years? Do we say to the Lord I will not let you go?

The story of Jacob wrestling with God gives us a picture of wrestling with a seemingly hostile God in prayer.

“Before Jacob was even born God had prophesied that the blessing would be his and not his brother’s (Genesis 25:23). But it was not until Jacob took it in prayer-wrestling match with God that it really became his. He laid hold of the promise of God through a night of prayer.” [6]

And nothing gives God greater pleasure than to see the hearts of His people firmly adhering to Him.

The blessings of God are released in our lives through persistent prayer. Do we say to The Lord, “I will not let you go until you bless me?”

It's so easy to initiate prayer, but to persevere in that prayer is hard.

But we need to persevere with prayer without losing heart. Because losing heart is the very end of all prayer.

Do we pray for people’s salvation?

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,[d] that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).

Do we pray on behalf of people?

  • Do we have a passion for the advancement of His kingdom?
  • Have we ever prayed for someone?
  • Have we seen men or women changed through our prayer life?
  • Have we shared the Gospel with someone and hit our knees and fought and fought and wrestled and wrestled until Christ was formed in them?

Until we saw a maturity and glow in their life that was inexplicable apart from the power of the living God.

Let’s wrestle for the conversion of men and women, let's fight on our knees, let’s believe God.

The greatest thing we can do for humanity is seeking God through prayer.

The question is: 

  • Have we been sharing the Gospel without praying to God first?
  • Or, have we been sharing the Gospel at all?

We need to follow the example of our Lord, who prayed: 

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message” (John 17:20).

We must first talk to God about men, then talk to men about God.

Prayer is essential to sharing the Gospel. “Without it our witness will be far less effective and we will be far more vulnerable to the enemy. When we witness, we need the blessing and support of the Lord. We need to be in fellowship with Him. Prayer makes this all possible.” 

“When we witness we plant the seeds of the Gospel, but it is God who causes the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). In prayer we ask God to give that growth. In prayer we ask God to convict the unrepentant of their sin and by that awaken in them the need for salvation.” [7]

Think back to your own conversion. Were there people praying and requesting your salvation? Prayer is a vital part of witnessing.

Nothing cannot be done by God

Beloved, what cannot be done by God?

There is absolutely no obstacle that cannot be overcome in prayer:

  • Nowhere in scripture does it say God cannot convert a town through us.
  • Nowhere in scripture does it say God cannot convert a state through us.
  • Nowhere in scripture does it say God cannot convert a country through us.

If you have doubts, go and read the story of Jonah. 

We serve an Almighty God! 

There is waiting, enduring, persevering in prayer. There is delay, but when God moves He settles things in a blink of an eye. When God does answer a prayer, don't let Satan steal your testimony. He will always try to get into your head, to explain things away, say that was a coincidence. 

God delivers His people

We need to remember that we serve a God that delivers His people.

Every time Israel was delivered by God they would build a memorial, and write an account, to help them remember, to commemorate God's mighty work of deliverance in their life. However, that was short lived, for they forgot very quickly, forgot all of God's blessings.

We need to take heed, least we fall into the same temptation. Least we forget all that God has done in our life. Least we forget all of His blessings. Least we forget how He has delivered us. Least we forget all the prayers He has answered in our life.

For this is one way Satan attacks our trust in God.

This is one way satan attacks our faith in Christ.

Let’s not let Satan get into our mind.

Let’s not let Satan discourage us.

Have you ever struggled and struggled with a situation, and then with a little prayer overcome it? Don’t forget that testimony! Use it to build your trust and faith in Christ. Use it to pray for greater things.

We need to run away and abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

We need to slip away to somewhere private, somewhere quiet to be with God.

There simply is no substitute for spending time alone with God.

What greater privilege do we have than to tarry with God? To worship Him? To cry out to Him? To commune with Him? To tell Him we love Him?

This can only be done by the discipline of a prayer life. By getting up early in the morning before day, or by making an appointed time to meet our Heavenly Father everyday.

“When we make the effort to get alone with God, and to prayerfully focus our attention solely on Him, He will reward us with untold blessings that we may not receive any other way. One of these blessings is divine revelation. 

“With many similar parables, Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. But when He was alone with His disciples, He explained everything” (Mark 4:33-34).

“This passage not only emphasises how the Lord uses His Word to speak to us, but it also reveals how He takes special care to explain things more fully to those who spend time alone with Him.

“Beloved, God speaks to those who listen.” [8]

The question is:

  • Do we get all alone with God to discern His voice?
  • Do we spend time in the presence of God?
  • How much do we pray?
  • How much did we pray this morning?
  • How much do we tarry before the throne of God?
  • Is the presence of God a reality in our life?

Lift up your pants and have a look at your knees, do they bear the marks of someone who prays? 

Beloved, we have not, because we ask not!

To me this has been the most convicting message to put together. By the Lord's example, I am encouraging you to pray more. It's a sobering thing to preach. I would like you all to pray more, as I would like to pray more.

I want to leave you with this quote that I love from Martin Luther: “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

He spent his best three hours with The Lord in prayer.

God Bless



[1] Jesus A Man of Prayer, H.E. Phillips

[2] [3] [4] [5] All By Grace - Christ In The Garden Matthew 26:36-46, Dean Olive

[6] Five Lessons That Jacob’s Night Of Wrestling Teaches Us About Prayer, Pastor J.D. 

[7] The Importance of Prayer in Evangelism, Matt Slick

[8] Getting Alone With God, J.M. Farro