Sermon on the Mount
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about how we should pray. Here are some of the characteristics:-
• It's not for show - it's not about demonstrating how much we know about God. Rather, it is the simple heartfelt cries to God in secret that the Father rewards:-
"When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward.
But you, when you pray, enter into your inner room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly".
Matthew 6:5-6 (WEB)
Just saying lots of words and repeating them is not much use either! (Matthew 6:6
When we speak to God, Jesus teaches that we are to address Him as "Father" and then goes on to give a model for praying that has become known as "The Lord's Prayer". (Matthew 6:7-13
Strength in the face of temptation
After fasting for forty days in the wilderness, Jesus is tempted by Satan
Notice that he does not enter into a conversation with him. At each test, Christ replies with scripture, and then finally commands Satan to leave.
In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus prays "Bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" (Matthew 6:13, WEB)
Christ repeats this exhortation to pray when faced with temptation in the Garden of Gethsemane:-
"And he comes to the disciples, and sees that they are sleeping, and says to Peter, 'What, were you not able to keep watch with me one hour? Keep watch with prayer, so that you may not be put to the test: the spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is feeble'."
Christ's prayer for the believers
Matthew 26:40-41 (BBE)
In John 17, Jesus addresses the Father and prays for the saints. He prays protection for them (that God would keep them from the evil one), that they would be made holy in the truth, that they would be one - just as the Father and Christ are one, and that the love which he has encountered from the Father would be in them. Here's an excerpt from this famous prayer:-
"Not for these only do I pray, but for those also who believe in me through their word,
21 that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me".
Prayer for laborers in the harvest
John 17:20-21 (WEB)
Christ exhorts us to ask the Father for anointed laborers to be sent out into the harvest fields:-
"Then he said to his disciples, There is much grain but not enough men to get it in. Make prayer, then, to the Lord of the grain-fields, that he may send out workers to get in his grain".
Matthew 9:37-38 (BBE)
Apostolic prayer of Peter and John
In Acts 3, it is recorded that the Apostles Peter and John prayed for a crippled man and he was remarkably healed - an event that did not go unnoticed to the Sanhedran as this cripple frequently sat and begged for money outside the Temple. The apostles are then brought before the Sanhedran and ordered into custody. When they were released, they reported back to the believers in Jerusalem. The following is a section of their prayer and response to the Lord in the light of everything that had happened to them:-
"Now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness,
while you stretch out your hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of your holy Servant Jesus."
Acts 4:29-30 (WEB)
Rather than backing down and keeping quiet in face of the threats from the Sanhedran, their prayer and desire was the opposite - to speak with boldness, and to ask for many more miracles and healings.