Before the victory that Jesus won by His resurrection, only the Priest could go into the Jewish Holy of Holies and pray. These Priest were to pray for God to forgive and bless the people. As Jesus died on the Cross, something happened that no one expected, the curtain in the temple that led to the Holy of Holies, was ripped in two. The significance of this was missed by the many at the time, but through scripture we understand the powerful implication of that event:
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By His death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22, NLT)
If we walk with Jesus, it won’t be long before we notice His prayer habits. If we want to walk as Jesus did, we will start imitating Jesus’ patterns when it comes to prayer.
The first thing that seems obvious is that He prayed. Why did the Son of the living God pray? Without getting into the theological issues, let’s just learn how important prayer is for us, because Jesus Himself prayed! In Luke’s gospel story of Jesus’ life, we read in Chapter 18 these words of Jesus: “Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (verse 1). Jesus goes on to tell a parable, but I really don’t need to read further. I am convinced. I must pray and never give up!
The second thing I notice in our printed key verse is that Jesus started His day with prayer. I don’t need to make this a rule, but I like looking like Jesus, so I start my days praying. I get up early enough to spend time talking to my Father in Heaven—just like Jesus. If your day unfolds like mine, it gets busy and more hectic as the hours tick away. I need to make sure that first things are first. I must make sure that the things I feel are most important get done. For me prayer is at the top of the list.
Yes, I pray throughout my day as I’m sure you do. But I think Jesus knew His need for “alone time” with His Father. If Jesus needed it, I surely need it! Jesus and me – we pray alike! The disciples asked Jesus a very simple question: Can we pray like you? If we did not already have His answer, what would most of us guess His response would be? I think I might have imagined Jesus saying, “No, not exactly.” Being the Son of God, surely, we mere humans, could never pray like Jesus. But, as we all know, Jesus said, “Yes, this is how you should pray.”
As Jesus laid out the outline for praying, the disciples learned that they could be like Jesus in their prayers. You could be like Jesus in your praying as well. It is a choice. You obviously don’t have to. It is not a law of the Bible. I am not trying to make a case for a legalistic rule on praying, but I want to pray the outline Jesus taught us. It guides me in the “content” that is appropriate for good prayers! It guides me in the order that I should pray. It tells me to first focus on my Father in heaven and to put myself last.
If all we had was Jesus—no other influences—I think we would all pray the “Lord’s Prayer” more passionately. Should we allow the apostle’s words to have more influence on us than Jesus’ words? Isn’t the Bible, in its entirety, inspired? Look again at Jesus’ instructions: “This is how you should pray” (Matthew 6:9). Take each statement of His prayer and slowly make it your sincere prayer. Easter’s Victory makes our prayers possible and effective. Let’s pray with great confidence…Jesus paid the high price that we might enjoy this privilege.
Pastor Ben Walls