How does Jesus want us to pray? When his disciples asked him, Jesus answered with what we know as the Lord’s Prayer, beginning in Matthew 6:9. What we have there is probably better called the ‘Disciple’s Prayer,’ because it is what we should be praying as Jesus’s disciples. If a new or growing Christian asked me how to pray– or rather, what to pray– I would direct them to Matthew 6.
John 17 might be the second place I’d call out, though with a caveat. Commonly called the ‘High Priestly Prayer,’ John 17 is really the Lord’s prayer, because it is the prayer only Jesus can pray. Here he intercedes for us as our High Priest. He asks God to restore him to the glory he had with the Father before the foundation of the world, and declares to the Father his perfect obedience. None of us can or should pray those things: that is for Jesus alone.
Still, we can look at the content that Jesus prayed for his disciples, those whom the Father has given to him, and learn about his heart for us. We should value for ourselves what Jesus values for us. Do you want to align your prayers with God’s will? Consider using John 17 as a guide. In this way, we can learn to pray more like Jesus. Here are five standout points for your own prayer life:
1. Give glory to Christ
This is the first thing Jesus prays for: his own glory. This isn’t selfish or egotistical for Jesus to pray, because he alone is worthy of such glory. He longed for his disciples to see and be with him in his glory. We would do well to put the glory of Christ first in our hearts and in our prayers. We should desire the glory of Christ above our own needs or wishes.
2. Pray for Perseverance
“Keep them in your name,” Jesus pleads with the Father. It isn’t hard to be a follower of Christ. It’s impossible, at least, in your own strength. Sin is too tough for you, the devil too cunning, the world too enticing, the flesh too corrupt, the will too weak. Even as Christ commands you to run the race with endurance, it is the combined work of the Father, Son, and Spirit who keep you in the race at all. Pray for perseverance, for fresh mercies, for repentance, for steadfast faith.
3. Pray for Protection
The enemy subtly attacks us more than we realize. He prefers to work against us without being noticed. Many of us aren’t aware of the traps and temptations we’ve walked into until the damage is done. Don’t underestimate Satan’s work. Jesus didn’t, knowing full well the danger he is for believers. Pray for protection against evil, the evil one, and all temptation.
4. Pray for Holiness
“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Jesus wants you to be holy, to be set apart for God. This happens day by day as God’s Word transforms your life. Your thinking, character, beliefs, and behavior all grow in conformity to Christ. This is what it means to grow as a Christian. Pray every day to grow in holiness, affection, faith, obedience, love, and Christ-likeness.
5. Pray for Oneness
The Father, Son, and Spirit are one. In a similar way, Jesus prays that his people would experience such great unity, love, and common faith that our lives would be knit together and we would look like the Trinity. Pray for and pursue this.
The High Priestly Prayer is uniquely Jesus’s prayer. But we can learn to pray like him and ask the Father what Jesus desires for us.