Articles

WHAT IS JESUS PRAYING
by Jonathan Graf

Scriptures tell us that Jesus is ever living to intercede for us. As I have thought about this, I have wondered, what is Jesus praying for us? I wonder, if in some way, we can get a picture of what He is praying now if we look at the ways He prayed while on earth.

In the Gospels, 45 times it says something like “Early in the morning, Jesus went off by himself to pray” or “Jesus went to a solitary place to pray.” We are not privy to Jesus’ prayers in these times, but if we look at what Jesus did before and after the time of prayer, we find clues about what He prayed. I see four areas on which Jesus focused His prayers.

1. He prayed for direction. The night before He narrowed the number of followers to the 12 disciples, He went off to pray. “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles” (Luke 6:12–16). I wonder if He and the Father went name by name through the list until Jesus knew which ones His Father wanted Him to select.

On another occasion, Mark records, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’ So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons” (Mark 1:35–39). Note that Jesus ignored a perfectly good ministry opportunity to go in a new direction. The disciples came looking for Jesus because a crowd was gathering and waiting for Him. Jesus said, “No, we have to go elsewhere.” He got new marching orders.

I wonder if Jesus is praying for direction for us—that we will understand and be willing to obey whatever God wants us to do.

2. He prayed for God’s strength to overcome temptation. After the feeding of the 5,000, Matthew records: “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray “ (Matt. 14:22–23).

What did He need to pray about? John’s Gospel gives us a hint. “Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself” (John 6:15). Being a leader is heady stuff. People wanted Him to become king (which He was ultimately meant to do—but in a different way). I think Jesus went away with the Father to pray about His true ministry and regain perspective. He prayed for victory over the temptations coming His way.

I think Jesus is praying that we will be kept from the evil one and given strength to overcome temptation—and not think more of ourselves than we ought (Rom. 12:3).

3. He prayed about overcoming His own will. We all know the garden prayer on the night Jesus was betrayed: “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will’” (Matt. 26:39). But three days earlier it was clear He was wrestling with what was to come: “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27–28).

Surrendering our wills is one of our most difficult struggles. I believe Jesus is continually praying that we will submit to the Father in complete surrender.

4. He interceded for others. “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31–32). While our tendency is to pray, “Lord, get them out of this,” or “Please fix this mess,” Jesus never prays that way for Peter. I suspect He is right now at the right hand of the Father praying on our behalf: “Strengthen their faith through this situation.”

It is comforting that Jesus is perhaps praying these things for us. But it should also challenge us in how we pray for ourselves and others—as Jesus would pray.

–JONATHAN GRAF is publisher of Prayer Connect.
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Used by permission by: Prayer Connect Magazine (www.prayerconnect.net)