The Bible is chock-full of examples of Jesus praying with a fervent heart, connecting with His Heavenly Father. Jesus innately understood that if He was going to fulfill His purpose in the earth, He needed to commune with His Father continually. Leonard Ravenhill, the English Christian evangelist who used to spend up to eight hours of prayer, once said:
“To be much for God, we must be much with God.”
For Jesus, prayer is never an inconvenience or an option. It’s a necessity. It’s an opportunity to connect deeply with His Father—knowing His heart and His ways. Jesus’ heart is that we may experience that same intimacy with God. This is precisely why Jesus reveals His heart in prayer in John 17:20-23:
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me
Jesus made it clear—His prayer request is that we are one in unity that’s emblematic of His oneness with His Father. The prayer wasn’t only for His disciples but for all those who would believe in the Gospel message—that He lived, died, and rose for the sins of the world. As I’ve read the above passage of Scripture, it is remarkable to see how Jesus’ prayer was never stained with narcissism, arrogance, and pride. The words of His prayer never reeked of selfish ambition. And if there’s any ambition in Jesus, it’s to do the will of the Father. When Jesus prayed, it represented prayer at its best and most sincere. Likewise, we ought to pray like Christ and pray with Him as well!
How can we join Jesus in prayer? How can we join Him as we impact a generation through prayer? Here are a few tips to consider:
PRAY GOD’S WORD
In my own prayer journey, I used to become increasingly frustrated that my prayers were devoid of passion and urgency. In fact, it felt like an obligatory exercise to clear my conscience that at least I did “the right thing.” The truth of the matter was that my prayer was not full of God’s Word, but more like my fleeting opinions. When I shifted in praying God’s Word, my passion for and in prayer changed dramatically. I believed God for His promises outlined in Scripture. I encourage you to take Him literally at His Word! Use the Bible and His promises therein to increase your hunger for Him and what He’s promised.
EMBRACE GOD’S WILL
Jesus once said, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” This declaration was made in the midst of a life-and-death circumstance. Jesus modeled for us that even in the darkest night of our souls, embracing God’s will may not be painless, but it certainly will be purposeful. Making the decision to join Jesus in prayer is a courageous one. Such a decision demands of us to lay down our wills for the will of the Father. By doing so, it may not be a “walk in the park” but we are assured that God is with us when we decide to journey with Him. We are not alone and He will guide us on the mountaintops or the valleys of life.
ENGAGE GOD’S HEART
I confess—there were times I connected with God for the purpose of getting “things”—material things, relational things, promotional things, family things. And while God has been beyond gracious with giving me “good things,” I realized I failed to connect deeply with my good Father. What’s on His heart? What bothers Him? What does He want to see changed through His grace and human agency? I had to wrestle with my motivations and intentions in prayer. When I approach God for the purpose of pursuing His Presence and knowing His heart, I can never go wrong. There’s such a peace in prayer beyond offering petitions. God knows us more than we know ourselves. But, in exchange, He wants us to know Him and this happens when we join Jesus in prayer.
It’s my earnest prayer that praying God’s Word, embracing God’s Will, and engaging God’s Heart will help us join Jesus in prayer to where He already is—continually in communion with the Father.
Ryan E. Faison, M.Div is the Student Ministries Pastor at Christ Church in Montclair and Rockaway, New Jersey, providing leadership to teams and volunteers of the children’s, teens, college, and young adults ministries. Ryan serves as the producer of Prayerfest, an adjunct professor at Pillar College, an anointed worship leader, and dynamic preacher of God’s Word. Connect with Ryan via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @RyanFaison.