But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray Luke 5:16, AMP
I think Jesus wanted to pray. I think that for us to pray much, or deeply, we need to move from what we think we should do to what we want to do. But that won’t happen if we simply tell ourselves that we have to pray more. So let us put “shoulds” aside for a moment.
Clearly it was Jesus’ custom to pray, it was perfectly natural for a Jewish believer such as Christ to pray. But this raises an interesting question: why did Jesus pray?
The answer is found in the fact that Jesus is both God and man.
Jesus prayed out of His divinity
As the eternal Son of God, Jesus prayed out of his divinity – serving as a display of communion with his Father. Being one with the Father, there is no reason to be surprised that the Son communicated with the Father. In that sense, Jesus’ prayer life is rooted in his divinity.
Jesus prayed out of His humanity
Jesus prayed out of his humanity as well – serving as a model for us of what dependence on the Father looks like. This opens a door into some fascinating questions: Did Jesus know which disciples would be his apostles before he prayed to the Father? Did Jesus need to pray in order to make the right decision? Suffice it to say that the implications of the incarnation are too numerous and deep for our small minds to grasp. But this much is clear, Jesus lived a life of trust in and dependence on his Father to lead him. This is the example we continue to learn from.
- Prayer Allows us to Communicate with God
Prayer allows us to worship and praise the Lord. It also allows us to offer confession of our sins, which should lead to our genuine repentance. Moreover, prayer grants us the opportunity to present our requests to God. All of these aspects of prayer involve communication with our Creator. He is personal, cares for us, and wants to commune with us through prayer.
- Prayer Allows us to Participate in God’s Works
Prayer is the means God has ordained for some things to happen. Prayer, for instance, helps others know the love of Jesus. Prayer can clear human obstacles out of the way in order for God to work. It is not that God can’t work without our prayers, but that He has established prayer as part of His plan for accomplishing His will in this world.
- Prayer Gives us Power Over Evil
Can physical strength help us overcome obstacles and challenges in the spiritual realm? No, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). But in prayer even the physically weak can become strong in the spiritual realm. As such, we can call upon God to grant us power over evil.
- Prayer is Always Available
Prayer is always available to us. Nothing can keep us from approaching God in prayer except our own choices.
Jesus prayed out of His position in the Trinity
The nature of the Trinity allows for communication between its members. As God the Son, Jesus could pray to God the Father.
Prayer was an important part of Jesus’ life. Many times in the Gospels, we read that Jesus prayed or went alone to pray apart from the disciples. It is evident from Luke’s Gospel that Jesus prays often (Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28). Jesus’ disciples have no doubt noticed His prayerfulness and they ask Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1).
The path to wanting to pray is not fundamentally praying because Jesus prayed, but praying because Jesus died and rose again. It is through this death and resurrection that we find more than an example, we find a Saviour who bore the wrath of God that we deserved, took the debt of sin that we accrued, and declared us righteous. That is grace. And having received such plentiful grace, we pray. Not merely because Jesus prayed, but because Jesus died to give us hearts that long to pray.
For the follower of Christ, prayer is not a matter of if, but when. That isn’t to say that prayer is some heartless command, rather it is the natural result of a belief in a personal God. If prayer is simply talking to God, it shouldn’t surprise us that Jesus wanted to pray.