The Teachings of Jesus on Prayer

Here are some Scriptures in which Jesus teaches us how to pray.

Jesus gives us a model prayer.

Jesus gives us the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father as a model.  He calls God “Our Father” which gives us comfort that God cares for us and is listening when we pray.  Jesus tells us to pray that God’s desires and intentions will come to pass on earth, to praise God for who He is as we marvel at His holiness and power, to request our daily needs, to ask for and receive forgiveness, to ask for protection from evil and to receive help in overcoming temptation.  (Matthew 6:9-13)

“This, then, is how you should 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.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Jesus encourages us to pray privately and honestly.  Our words aren’t as important as our hearts.

Jesus tells us to not focus on praying eloquent words to impress others and not to use a large amount of words in hopes of finally being heard.  Instead He tells us to pray privately to our unseen God who sees us in secret and will reward us.  (Matthew 6:5-7)

Matthew 6:5-13

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is in heaven.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Jesus says praying together is powerful.

Jesus says that whenever two of us on earth agree about anything we ask, it will be done by our Father in heaven.  Whenever we gather, Jesus is there with us.  (Matthew 18:19,20)

Jesus tells us to pray with persistence.

Jesus tells us to ask, seek and persist in prayer (Luke 11:5-9)

Jesus assures us that God gives us good things when we pray.

Jesus teaches that just as a loving parent does, God gives good things to those who ask, particularly giving the great gift of His Holy Spirit.  (Luke 11:11-13, Matthew 7:11)

Matthew 7:7-11

“Ask and it will be given to you; see and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?”

Jesus says God knows what we need before we ask.

Read Matthew 6:8

Jesus teaches that God welcomes prayers of repentance.

Jesus portrays the prayer of a repentant sinner as being far superior to that of a self-righteous person.  God hears the repentant sinner and rewards them.  (Luke 18:10-14)

Jesus demonstrates that praying God’s will is sometimes difficult, yet prayer enables us to accept even the most difficult of spiritual journeys.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus labored and agonized in prayer asking to be spared the suffering and death of the cross.  Prayer enabled Jesus to listen to God and submit to God’s will by praying the most powerful prayer on earth, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  (Matthew 26: 36-46)

Jesus tells us that prayer is vital when fighting temptation.

Jesus knew that Peter wasn’t as strong as he thought.  Jesus told Peter to pray for himself so that so he won’t fall into temptation.  (Mark 14:38)   Jesus prayed for Peter beforehand knowing that Peter was ripe for failure, leaving us an example to pray for ourselves and each other that we will find God’s strength to overcome our weak moments.  (Luke 22:31)

Jesus made daily private prayer a top priority.

Jesus prayed regularly in private, habitually getting up before daybreak to go into a solitary place to pray.  At times he prayed all night.  The things that happened following these prayer sessions indicate that Jesus received empowerment for ministry and received clear directions from God.  For example, after praying Jesus knew the specific  12 followers to choose as disciples and also when to journey on to the next town to minister even when things seemed to be going so well where they were.  (Mark 1:35-39, Luke 5:16, Luke 6: 12-13)

Jesus used powerful prayers of blessing.

Jesus said prayers of blessing upon individuals, including children.  (Mark 10:16)

Jesus offered prayers of thanksgiving to God.

Jesus said prayers of thanksgiving, notably when it seemed that the resources on hand weren’t adequate in the feeding of the multitude. (Mark 14: 22)

Jesus praised God in prayer.

Read Matthew 11:25-26 

Jesus prayed for others.

Read Luke 18:11, John 17:6-19

Jesus was a fierce defender of places of prayer.

Jesus was angry that the Temple which was meant to be a house of prayer had been turned into a place of commerce.  His heart burned with so much passion that He drove out the merchants from the Temple. (Mark 11:17)

Jesus prayed out loud so that those who heard Him pray could understand God’s power.

Jesus prayed publicly at times for the benefit of those around him, notably before raising Lazarus from the dead.  He emphasized in His prayer that He knew God always hears Him but was praying out loud so that those hearing the prayer might see God’s glory and believe in Jesus.  (John 11:41, 41)

Jesus tells us to pray in His name.

Jesus tells us to ask in his name saying, “I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”  (John 16:33)

Jesus prayed for himself.

Read John 17:5

Jesus prayed about the future.

Read John 17: 20-26

Jesus prayed for His followers.

Jesus prayed that the believers would be protected from the evil one, that we might be united as one, that we might be made holy by God’s word, that we might be with him, that we might feel his joy, see his glory, and feel his love.  (John 17:6-26)

Jesus explains that certain situations where evil is firmly entrenched can only be remedied with intense prayer.

After healing a demon possessed boy, Jesus told us that there are certain spiritual obstacles and strongholds cannot be overcome without much prayer and fasting.  (Mark 9:29)

Jesus tells us to exercise faith in prayer, believing that we have received.

Read Mark 11:24

Jesus teaches that during prayer we need to forgive others so that God will forgive us.

Read Mark 11:25

Jesus promises that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Read Matthew 18:18

Jesus prayed on the cross.

He cried out loudly in despair and agony, asking why God had abandoned Him.  (Matt. 27:46) Right before He died He prayed, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”: (Luke 23:46)

Jesus asked for human prayer companionship to strengthen Him during His darkest hour.

When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, he asked his closest disciples to be there with him.  He shared with them His feelings and struggles and asked them to watch and pray with Him.  (Matthew 26:36-38)

Jesus warns us that we will face obstacles to prayer.

In the Garden of Gethsemane Peter couldn’t stay awake and kept falling asleep.  Jesus repeatedly tried to awaken Peter and said, “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”  (Matthew 26:41)

Jesus actively meditated.

Meditation is a form of prayer where we think about and ponder God’s words and listen carefully to their message.  After His baptism, Jesus went into the wilderness for forty days of fasting to create time and space to meditate on His calling and how He would pursue it.   During this time He was tempted by the devil’s suggestions to use earthly means to reach people.  Jesus was able to sort through reasonable sounding rationalizations to take short cuts, be self serving and to sell out to the devil.  These suggestions sounded more plausible when the devil cleverly quoted scriptures out of context.  Jesus was able to resist by correctly applying Scripture to His current situation.  As a result of this time of intense mediation, Jesus began His ministry with great power of the Holy Spirit.  (Luke 4:1-15)

Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies.

Read Matt. 5:43-48

Jesus prayed that God would forgive those who crucified Him.

Read Luke 23:34

Jesus asks us to pray that God will send many workers to join the vast mission of bringing others into God’s Kingdom.

Read Matthew 9:36-38

Jesus gave his followers the authority to pray peace upon households.

Read Matthew 10:12,13

Jesus used a variety of nonverbal actions during prayer.

When He broke bread to feed the 5,000 as He gave thanks He looked up toward heaven.  (Matthew 14:19)  In Gethsemane, He fell down on his face on the ground.  (Matthew 26:39)  When He blessed children, He laid hands on them and took them in His arms. (Mark 10:16)   

Jesus called God “Abba” or “Daddy” when praying.

When pleading with God in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus didn’t address God as an uninvolved, far-away Creator.  Instead Jesus addressed God as “Daddy” – His familiar, loving and dear parent who cared for Him deeply, totally and unconditionally.   (Mark 14:36)

As a baby, Jesus was the recipient of prayers blessing from people of fervent prayer.

When Jesus was presented in the Temple as an infant, Simeon took Jesus into his arms and said prayers of thanksgiving and prophecy.  Anna, an elderly woman who constantly devoted herself to prayer thanked God and told others about Jesus.  (Luke 2: 25-38)

Glorious and supernatural things happened when Jesus prayed.

The Bible reports that when Jesus took three disciples up on a mountain to pray with him “As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.”  (Luke 9:28, 29)

Jesus tells us that God will bring about justice for the chosen ones who cry out to him.

Read Luke 18:7,8

Jesus tells us to watch and pray that we will be able to withstand persecution.

Read Luke 21:36   

An angel from heaven appeared to Jesus during anguished prayer to strengthen Him.

Read Luke 22:43

Two disciples finally recognized Jesus after the resurrection when he prayed thanks over the evening meal.

Read Luke 24:30,31

At the time of His ascension into heaven, Jesus lifted up his hands and prayed a blessing on the disciples.

Read Luke 24:50,51

Jesus tells us that if we ask Him, He will give us living water which represents eternal life.

Read John 4:10

God sometimes spoke audibly to Jesus in prayer.

In John 12 the Bible records Jesus becoming troubled and praying, “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!”  Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”  The crowd that was there heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.  Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.”  (John 12:27-30)

Jesus said that if we unite with Him and remain with Him, we can ask to bear the spiritual fruit we wish and it will be so.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”  (John 15: 7,8)

Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Although Jesus does not specifically mention the word prayer when telling the disciples about coming of the Holy Spirit or the Counselor, the actions of the Holy Spirit include the process of inner revelation and illumination that most typically come through prayerful meditation.  These include guidance, truth, reminding us of what Jesus has said and clarifying for us what God is doing. (John 16: 12-15)     

Jesus says that when we ask and receive in His name, it will bring complete joy.

Read John 16: 24

Jesus says that our love for Him is a key to prayer.

Jesus says, “In that day you will ask in my name.  I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.  No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”  (John 16:26,27)

Before His crucifixion, Jesus made a special point to say prayers for the believers while still on earth.

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them… My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” (John 17:13,15,16)    

Before ascending, Jesus told the disciples that they would soon be empowered with the Holy Spirit.  After spending the next several days in prayer they received supernatural power on Pentecost.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8)  The believers returned to Jerusalem and “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1:14)  “When the day of Pentecost came they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were…  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”  (Acts 1:1,2,4)  Peter preached and 3,000 new believers were baptized.  The Bible reports that prayer became a daily priority to these new believers. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42)

Jesus continues to intercede for us in heaven.

Hebrews 7:24-25   But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.  Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Romans 8:34  Who is he that condemns?  Christ Jesus, who died- more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

I John 2:1,2  My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.  But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

I Timothy 2:5,6  For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as  a ransom for all men – the testimony given in its proper time.