Prayer Life of Jesus & How to Pray Like Him


Jesus' hands

How often/how many times did Jesus pray?

Christ prayed every morning, throughout the day, and many times at night. His times of prayer throughout the day were twofold: (1) as He was going about His business He lived in communion with God, and (2) He would often break away from the crowds to spend time with the Father.

No matter how busy Jesus got, He would wake up early in the morning, before the sun rose, to spend time with His heavenly Father.

“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

This was a common practice for Jesus, He would do this every single morning. We know this because in the book of Isaiah, the prophet says that the Messiah will be woken up by God every morning and learn from Him.

“The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned.(Isaiah 50:4)

Isn’t that amazing? The heavenly Father woke up Christ every morning so that they could spend time together and so that Jesus could learn from Him.

Now, remember Jesus humbled himself to become a man so He had to grow in “wisdom and in stature” just like us (Luke 2:52). It isn’t blasphemy to say Jesus had to grow in understanding or in the knowledge of God.

Not only was Jesus woken up every morning by the Father to pray, but He also would spend time in prayer in the evening. On one occasion He even spent all night in prayer.

“Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12)

“And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land.” (Mark 6:46-47)

Now it is important to mention that there is no evidence to suggest that this was a daily thing Jesus did, however, there is evidence in the scriptures that shows us that this was a practice of Jesus that happened quite often.

Finally, Jesus would spend time in prayer throughout His day.

The first way He did this was by remaining aware of the Father on a constant basis. Now there is no Bible verse that tells us this indefinitely, but there are many passages of scripture that imply this.

A good story that implies this is when the woman with the issue of blood touches the hem of His garment and is healed.

“When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment…Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?” (Mark 5:27, 29-30)

The crazy part about this is there was a crowd of people touching Him left and right. He was being touched by everyone! (Mark 5:31) But He was so aware of God that He realized when power flowed out of Him.

Another example is when Jesus said, “the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19)

This verse shows us that Jesus lived in constant awareness of God to see where the Father was leading Him at every moment, because of this Jesus could say, “I only do what the Father does.” (Related article: Dwelling in the Secret Place: What it is and How to do it).

The second way He would spend time in prayer throughout His day is He would often break away from the crowds, and even His disciples at times, to pray alone.

“…great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16)

I think one of the keywords in this passage is “often.”

Jesus put such an importance on prayer that when He got busy dealing with the crowds and healing their sick, He would withdraw from them to spend time in prayer. [Related article: How Long/Often Should Christians Pray? (Biblical Answer)]

How long did Jesus pray?

Christ’s length of prayer depended upon the time of the day. In the morning and at night, He likely spent at least 3+ hours in prayer. Throughout the day, however, it was much shorter due to the fact that these times of prayer were simply times to refocus, find guidance, and pray with His disciples.

There are multiple examples in the Gospels that show us how long Jesus must have prayed for, as long as we are willing to dissect these passages and break them down.

A perfect example of this is the passage in Mark’s Gospel where Christ wakes up well before the sun rose.

“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” (Mark 1:35)

Now if we break this down we can discover how long Jesus must have prayed for. First, Jesus woke up “a long while before daylight” which probably means anywhere from 4 am to 5 am considering daylight is probably 7-7:30 am.

In addition to this, He didn’t stop praying until His disciples found Him. Which means He probably stopped praying around 7:30-8 am maybe?

Because if you think about it, the disciples probably woke up when the sun rose because they didn’t have alarm clocks back then (in case you were curious). So they had to wake up and then search for Jesus, which must have taken around 30 minutes.

All in all, Jesus must have prayed for 2 and a half to possibly 4 hours at this instance.

Another passage of scripture that shows us how long Jesus prayed for is at the mount of transfiguration.

“He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 

“But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him.” (Luke 9:28-32)

In this passage, Jesus took these disciples with Him to pray on a mountain. As they were praying Jesus’ appearance altered and two of the old testament’s greatest prophets appeared before Jesus, and as exciting as this must have been all three of the disciples began to get tired and ended up falling asleep.

Some might say that God was the one who made the disciples tired. I don’t think that the tiredness that came over them was from God because Jesus took them up there with Him for a reason, and that reason certainly wasn’t so that they could get a nice nap on the mountain.

Rather, I believe they fell asleep simply because they were tired (shocker, right?). Jesus must have been praying for quite some time and the disciples just weren’t used to praying that long.

An important detail to notice is that they didn’t come down from the mountain until the next day (Luke 9:37). So that must mean that this was an all-night prayer time with the three disciples and Jesus, and the disciples just couldn’t stay awake.

Our final passage of scripture that reveals to us how long Jesus prayed for is in the garden of Gethsemane the night He was taken.

When Jesus and His disciples entered the Garen of Gethsemane He went a little distance away from them and began to pray very intensely saying, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.(Mark 14:36)

After He got done praying this He went to His disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” (Mark 14:37-38)

He did this a total of 3 times. He would go pray, come back to check on His disciples, then go away again. And it is implied in this scripture above that His prayers were roughly an hour each.

Now I don’t think that Jesus had His iPhone out timing how long that He was praying for as some of us might do, but the fact is still the same: Jesus was praying for quite a while each time He left the disciples.

I hope that you can see from these instances that Jesus was accustomed to praying for long hours at a time and that it not only was a one-time event but rather a spiritual practice that the Son of God did every day.[Related article: How Long/Often Should Christians Pray? (Biblical Answer)]

Pray like Jesus: What it means & How to do it

To pray like Jesus means to set aside time every day to spend time with the Father in secret prayer, to commune with God throughout the day, to pray in times of important events, and to follow the model of prayer that Christ laid out for us.

We can spend years studying the life of Jesus, and specifically the prayer life of Jesus, and still find no value. I can imagine that this statement probably shocked most of you. But the reason I say this is because every teaching from the Word of God is meant to be acted upon.

If we take the life of Jesus and break it down, we will find amazing stuff! But just learning about the incredible life of Christ will only take us so far, we also need to act upon what we discover in the scriptures, and that is what this section of the article is devoted to; how we can have a prayer life just like Jesus’.

And the best place we can start is with how Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew chapter 6 and in Luke chapter 11.

After the disciples asked him to teach them to pray, He responded by giving them a model prayer that is recorded in Luke’s gospel and in Matthew’s gospel.

We’re going to use Matthew’s version because it has more detail to it.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”(Matthew 6:9-13)

Now it is important to mention that this prayer is a model, it is not meant to be quoted every time we pray. We know this because Jesus said, “In this manner, therefore, pray” (verse.9) and He also commanded us not to use vain repetitions when we pray in verse 7.

So, how does this model look practically?

Well, Jesus starts out by praising and acknowledging God as His holy Father. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” Jesus is telling us to begin our prayer time with praise and worship.

Not only does Jesus mention this here, but this is also mentioned throughout all of the scriptures.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4)

“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25)

Next, after we enter God’s presence with praise and worship, we then intercede for God’s kingdom to come. “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

This is where we pray for God’s power and God’s character to be manifested through the Church, we pray for the lost to repent, and for the body of Christ to be laborers in Christ’s field.

Then Jesus tells us to pray for our own needs. “Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

This is where we bring our cares and concerns before Him.

Finally, Jesus tells us to end our time of prayer with praise and worship again. “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen”

I don’t know if you noticed, but praise and worship is mentioned twice as much as any other form of prayer in this model that Jesus gave us. Jesus isn’t the only one who stresses the importance of praise, it is also taught by the apostle Paul in many of his writings concerning prayer.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving(Colossians 4:2).

“…speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20)

Not only did he teach it, but he also practiced it.

“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25)

“What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” (1 Corinthians 14:15) Singing is a form of praise.

As you can see from both the life and teachings of the Son of God and the apostle Paul, praise, worship, and thanksgiving should be a vital part of our prayer lives as it was in theirs. (Related articles: How to Pray Like Jesus-For Beginners and The Prayer Life of the Apostle Paul & How to Pray like Him).

Now please keep in mind that this prayer Jesus gave us is a model, it is not meant to be quoted or followed to the letter. Prayer is primarily a time to spend with God and to have a time of intimacy with Him. [Related article: Spending Time with God (Common Questions Answered)].

I believe with all my heart that Jesus did not mean this to be a law that we all must pray this way every time. (If that were true, Jesus would have been breaking His own law in the garden of Gethsemane when He prayed the same intense prayer repeatedly).

Instead, this model is meant to be a guide on how to have a successful prayer time with the Lord.

I hope this article assisted you in your walk with the Lord. If you enjoyed this article, please consider giving a donation of any amount by going to the support page. The support I receive from you enables The Biblical Foundation to reach more people with the teachings of the Word of God.

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