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Years ago, an old saint shared with me twelve prayer principles from the life of Jesus Christ. It made such a difference in my personal prayer life. There are only 17 references to Jesus praying and most of them are in the book of Luke.
1. The principle of ILLUMINATION.
Luke 3:21-22 says, “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as He was praying, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are My Son whom I love. With You I am well pleased.” The setting here was Jesus’ baptism and this is the first recorded example of Jesus’ praying and we see in the book of Luke three results of His praying.
- Heaven opened up.
- The Holy Spirit came down.
- The Father spoke.
These are three results when we make contact with God in our prayers. Symbolically, heaven opens up and we receive God’s blessing. The Holy Spirit fills our lives afresh. And the Father speaks to us. If you’d like to know the Spirit’s power in your life, if you’d like God to speak to you, you must practice the prayer life of Jesus.
2. The principle of ISOLATION.
Luke 5:16 says, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” “Often” means it was His habit. He did it in places where He was all by Himself. I believe this is absolutely essential. We need to spend time alone with God everyday. Jesus returned again and again to a lonely place. Find that place where you can get alone with God, where you can be isolated and pray aloud and let God speak to you.
3. The principle of CONCENTRATION.
Luke 6:12 says, “In those days Jesus went out on the mountainside to pray and He spent the night praying to God.” Notice it says, “He spent the night…” Some of the greatest lessons of my prayer life have been nights that I have spent in prayer. My decision to marry my wife was made in a prayer meeting all night with one other person. Sometimes when I pray it takes just a few minutes for me to get my thoughts collected. Sometimes it takes a long time for me to even get in the mood. I’ve found that it’s important to spend extended blocks of time with God so that you can concentrate on what He wants you to do and His will for your life.
4. The principle of INSULATION.
The Bible says, “Once when Jesus was praying in private, the disciples were with Him.” Notice that the disciples were with him but He still found time for personal prayer. This is an important principle because there’s not always time to get alone by yourself. There are times when you can’t be isolated. I think of this as kind of an incubator verse. Babies can be in the middle of a busy hospital but they can be incubated in a situation that protects them from the hustle and bustle around them. Sometimes I find as a pastor I just can’t get alone, but I can have an attitude of isolation or insulation and I can be silent even in the middle of a traffic jam. My prayer can overcome the interruptions when I put myself in an attitude of insulation.
5. The principle of TRANSFORMATION.
We find this in Luke 9:28-29. “He took Peter, John and James with Him and went up on a mountain to prayer. As He was praying the appearance of His face changed and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightening.” Prayer changes you. Do you think it’s possible to spend so much time with God that when you come away your face shows it?
2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “We all with unveiled faces behold the glory of the Lord.” As we look on Him “We are transformed from one degree to another.” The word in that passage is the word katoptrizo. It’s the only time that word is used in the entire Bible. It means, ”to seriously look at, to contemplate, to meditate, to gaze on like somebody gazing in a mirror.” As we gaze on the word, as we reflect on the word, like a mirror reflects, we become more and more like Christ. And we’re transformed.
6. The principle of EXEMPLIFICATION.
Luke 11:1 says, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place and when He finished one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.’” Notice it does not say, “Teach us how to pray,” which is often misquoted. It says “Teach us to pray.” I would suggest that this is a dangerous prayer to pray. We should not pray this request unless we really mean it, because God will often use trials and hardships and difficulties to teach us to pray.
7. The principle of PRESERVATION.
In Luke 22:31-32 Jesus says, “Simon, Simon. Satan has asked to sift you as wheat but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” This is a prayer of protection. We don’t just believe in prayer, we believe in God. Jesus not only saves you but He prays for you. Robert Murray McCheyne once said, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies.” God is praying for us right now. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us.
8. The principle of PREPARATION.
In Luke 22:42 Jesus prays “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will but Yours be done.” Notice the change in this prayer. First, He said, take it away from Me. Then He said, “Lord, leave it.” He prayed earnestly. Why? Because He knew He would be facing in the next few hours the greatest trial of His life and He didn’t want to approach it prayerlessly.
“A congregation without a prayer meeting is essentially defective in its organization, and so must be limited in its efficiency.”
~ The Prayer Meeting and Its History, J. B. Johnston
“In the evening I was favored with great faith and fervency in prayer. It seemed as if God would deny me nothing, and I wrestled for multitudes of souls, and could not help hoping there would be revival here.”
~ Edward Payson
Tuesday, November 11th 2014
“all the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had given for Israel to obey.”
It’s a sad fact today that many churches across the world proclaim to love Jesus but refuse to teach His Word. Yet, it is the Word of God that is the life blood of all healthy churches. Even before Jesus instituted the church as we know it today, the people of Israel found revival in their midst when they met together and read aloud the Word of the Lord. Why is it that the elevation of the Bible brings revival? It’s because Christ, Himself, is contained within the pages and where Jesus is there is life!
John 1:1 “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (NLT)
The book of John goes on to say that the Word brought life and light into the darkness. Who is this life and light? It is Jesus Christ. So now the question is, “Is the Word of God a priority in your life?” Do you study it, pray through it and apply it to your life? If not, then friend I would challenge you to pick it up today and read. Ask God to give you understanding and then you will see a personal revival in your life that could lead to a revival in your church, community and the world.
“Praying in faith comes from an abiding faith in the Person prayed to–the confidence is in Him. It is based on a knowledge of who He is, and on a trusted conviction that He is worthy to be trusted. Praying in faith is the act of a simple-hearted child of God.”
“Pursuing prayer is prayer on a mission. It is diligent, fervent, constant, persevering, determined, and convinced.”
In a commentary in the October 2014 edition of Decision magazine published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Rev. Billy Graham boldly compared the U.S. to Sodom and Gomorrah, deserving of the judgment of God but able to be saved by hearts made pure by Christ and willing to pray for the nation’s protection.
“Down through our history our nation’s leaders have carried their plans and hopes to God in prayer,” Graham wrote. “Yet today we have come to a place where we regard prayer in our national life simply as a venerated tradition. We have no sense of coming to grips with God; we simply use prayer as a formality. … One of the reasons the United Nations has become so ineffective in handling world situations is that there is no prayer, no recognition of God. Unless the leaders of nations turn to God in prayer, their best plans will fail, just as did the plans of those who built the tower of Babel.”
Graham went on to give numerous examples of the faithful “turning the tide of history” by seeking God in prayer, beginning with Christ Himself, then moving to Abraham, Hezekiah, Elijah, Elisha, Daniel, Paul and Peter. He went on to list more modern examples of how saints like John Knox, John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards changed the world on their knees.
“In this modern age in which we live, we have learned to harness the power of the atom, but very few of us have learned how to fully develop the power of prayer,” Graham pointed out.
by Alvin Reid
When do you think the following observations were made?
- Ministers today seem more concerned with political power in society than spiritual fervency in the church, while pop culture contributes to the moral decay among the youth.
- While marked by an increasing ethnic diversity and various religious beliefs, the nation’s established religious groups –– particularly Protestants –– demonstrate a sterile spirituality. One pastor bemoans the obsession with gambling and rudeness, while churches are attended at convenience.
- College campuses teem with students chasing after the latest philosophies, the more unbiblical the better. The more educated a person you find, the less likely you are to discover a Christian. Meanwhile, churches are filled with people who listen to pastors preach then contradict the sermon by the way they live.
You may think these descriptions came from the blog of some concerned Christian commenting on our time. But the first one comes from Great Britain just before the preaching of John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, and others who were used by God to lead a great revival there. The second comes from the American colonies prior to the First Great Awakening. The final came around 1800, with college campuses in the newly formed United States influenced by Voltaire, Rousseau, and others, at the dawn of the Second Great Awakening.
Ours is not the first generation to recognize the spiritual declension among us, or to see the need for God to awaken his church and touch our land. From the saints of the Old Testament to leaders in our time, prayer for revival has marked believers who understand the need for the Spirit surpasses our ability and intelligence.