There is a great deal of discussion among Christians about following Christ. True Christians are, after all, “little Christs” or Christ-followers. (“The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch” Acts 11:26). If you are a serious and sincere Christian, you hopefully spend time reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and learning from the life of Jesus as if you were sitting at His feet like Mary did in Luke 10:39.
How Can I Pray Like Jesus? Pray for others, not only yourself.
Begin by asking yourself: Do my prayers reflect my interests or Christ’s? Do I have in mind the concerns of God when I pray, or merely my own human concerns? Do my prayers resemble the ones prayed by Jesus Himself?
“For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 2:21, NIV).
“You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Mark 8:33, NIV).
So many of our prayers sound like this: “God, please help/bless/provide for me. Help us have a good day. Please hold off the rain, help us find a good parking spot, provide a little extra money, take away my headache, let our team win, help me find my phone, pay this bill, reach my goals, lose some weight, etc.”
There is nothing wrong with talking to God about all of the things that concern us. In fact, He tells us to cast our cares on Him – this includes anything weighing on our hearts and minds.
“Cast your cares on the Lordand he will sustain you…” (Psalm 55:22, NIV).
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV).
“…in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6, NIV).
God loves to hear from us! Like a best friend or a good Father, He delights in hearing us share the big things and the small things. He knows everything already (Psalm 139:1-4), but sharing and communicating are essential for the growth of any relationship. When we “cast” our cares and concerns on the Lord, we stop carrying them alone and instead give them to the Person powerful enough to change our circumstances.
How often though are we concerned with His interests instead of or above our own? What types of prayers reflect the interests of Jesus Christ?
1. Prayers Jesus Told Us to Pray
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one’” (Matthew 6:9-13).
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38).
– Prayers that begin with praise to God
– Prayers for the coming of the kingdom and the completion of God’s will on earth
– Prayers for the provision of our daily bread
– Prayers for forgiveness of our sins
– Prayers for protection from temptation and the evil one
– Prayers for the sending of laborers (missionaries) into the harvest field
2. Recorded Prayers Jesus Prayed While on Earth
“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do” (Matthew 11:25-26).
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:41-42).
“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).
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17:1-5).
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 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” (John 17:20-21).
– Prayers of praise and thanksgiving to God the Father
– Prayers of submission to the will of God
– Prayers for unbelievers: That they will believe and come to know God and the love of God and Christ Himself may come to dwell in them
– Prayers for believers: For protection from the evil one, complete unity (with each other and with the triune God), sanctification, for an effective and infectious witness in the world, and for an ultimate reunion with Christ.
Notice how the prayers of Jesus differ from our typical prayers. His were spiritual rather than physical or temporal. His mind was set on things above, on things eternal. Paul reminded us to have an eternal mindset rather than an earthly one.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christin God” (Colossians 3:1-3).
When you pray, set your prayers on things above, not on merely earthly things. Commit to living like Christ and praying like Christ.
Kristi Walker has been a missionary in Berlin, Germany for over 15 years working with an international church as the Director of Student Ministries. She is the author of two books, Disappointment: A Subtle Path Away from Christ and Convinced. Applying Biblical Principles to Life’s Choices.