Bold and Specific: How to Pray Like Jesus Did
Written by Phylicia Masonheimer | October 11, 2016
If you’ve ever wanted to improve your prayer life, you know how hard this spiritual discipline can be. Have you ever wondered why it’s so difficult? As daughters of God, shouldn’t this come naturally to us? I wish it were that easy! I’ve written previously about how to strengthen your prayer life, but sometimes we need an example to follow.
We have the perfect example: Jesus Himself!
Jesus was perfectly one with God, and because of this His prayers reflected that perfect unity and communion. Since we are in Christ, we have everything we need to commune with God in the same way! We just need to follow Jesus’ example. Below are four characteristics of Jesus’ prayer habits—based on the High Priestly Prayer of John 17—to incorporate into your own time with the Lord.
And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)
Jesus begins every prayer with adoration of God. He boldly proclaims who God is and what He has done before issuing any requests. This reflects Jesus’ reverence for God’s power, might and grace. When we begin our prayers this way, we automatically align our hearts with His character and will. Our minds are in proper view of who God is, which guides what we ask and how we speak to the Lord.
Adoring God requires knowing about Him, which is why spending time in His Word is so important! If you aren’t sure what to say, pray the Psalms. Much of David’s writing is proclamation of God’s character and His relationship with mankind.
Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. (John 17:11)
Too often we pray in generalities: “God, please bless my family, heal my aunt, show me which way to go, Amen.” The problem is that low expectations in prayer lead to low expectations on God Himself. If you want to see God move in mighty ways, ask—and then watch Him work.
Jesus prayed specifically. When He asked God to do something, He said exactly what He was requesting, fully expecting to see God move. We aren’t divine like Jesus, so we cannot know what He knew, but we CAN trust God’s goodness and ability. The worst God can do is say no. Pray specifically on behalf of those you love. Intercede for them with boldness. Then write down what you are praying for and record how God answers. I frequently revisit my prayer record to see how faithful God has been in my life.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you… (John 17:20-21)
Intercession is praying on behalf of others; praying for your country, government, leaders, family, spouse, and friends. Your personal requests should also be specific. Don’t set low expectations for the Lord! He delights to hear from you. In His wisdom, He will sift through what you ask. He knows what is best for you in this season, but He loves to hear what is on your heart. Bring your requests to His Father’s heart. Write down what you pray. Then watch for His answer—whether yes or no.
Bold Testament of Faith
O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. (John 17:25)
Jesus concludes with a bold proclamation of faith: “Even though the world does not know you, I know you.“ This is our testament as well! Though everyone around us may mock our faith, we know God. Through prayer, we know Him even more intimately. This knowledge is like two friends who know everything about one another. It takes time and intentionality, but through these, trust is built.
The prayer life of Jesus is our example for boldness and faith. Being a Christian means we are in Christ, unified to God through His Spirit in us. Your prayer life can be fulfilling. It can be powerful. It can be effective. Don’t wait for it to get deeper on its own; it never will. Draw near to God like Jesus did, and your prayer life will be modeled after his.