We are at the cusp of a New Year filled with the potential for new highs and lows, new joys and new fears. If we take time to read through the Gospels, we cannot miss an important lesson in how Jesus prepared for a new season of His time on earth. Jesus made it His habit to pray before important events and about important decisions in His life. For instance…
Jesus prayed as He began His ministry—Jesus’ baptism was a significant milestone in His life. It heralded the beginning of His public ministry. How did He approach this momentous occasion? We find Him offering up His first recorded instance of prayer:
“When all the people were baptized… Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended” (Luke 3:21-22).
Whatever work God has given you to do pales in comparison to what Jesus did. Nevertheless, it is your ministry (see 1 Corinthians 12:7, 11, 18). And your ministry merits— and requires—your prayers.
Jesus prayed as He chose His disciples—Jesus had many followers, but He desired to choose 12 as leaders, as apostles, as “sent ones.” These men would be given special authority to deliver His message to the world. Their selection would mark the beginning of the focused training of 12 men who would take the gospel to the ends of the earth. This was definitely a historic occasion. How would Jesus choose from all those who followed Him? Again, prayer was His answer:
“He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day… He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” (Luke 6:12-13).
Jesus prayed before going to the cross—In this last scenario, Jesus’ time on earth was coming to a close. His time of training His disciples was also over. He knew His death on the cross was ahead of Him, and He knew its implications for all mankind. So He moved with His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane, His customary place of prayer, to pray. His impending crucifixion would be excruciatingly painful and difficult, and His soul was in agony.
The Lord’s anguish had little to do with fear of the physical torture of the cross or even His death. No, He was sorrowful because the full cup of divine judgment against sin would soon be His to drink. How did Jesus handle this horrendous situation?
“He… fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me'” (Matthew 26:39). And, as He prayed a second and a third time, His prayers changed to reflect the powerful strength of His resolve: “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done” (verse 42).
You and I will never know or experience anything like Jesus did as He prepared for, faced, and endured death on a cross. But we do suffer—physical pain, emotional pain, lacks in our lives, difficult circumstances, challenging relationships, an uncertain future and more! To prepare for, face, and endure life’s challenges, you know what you need to do—pray!
Jesus shows you and all Christians the importance of praying when you need to make decisions and gain direction for your life. He prayed when He had to make an important decision or a special or trying occasion presented itself. His habit of prayer teaches us how to tap into God’s power and grace, too. Jesus’ desire was to follow the Father’s will completely, and prayer was a vital part of His decision-making. The same is true for you as you seek to do God’s will.
As you think about your life and the New Year ahead, what important event is about to occur? What guidance do you need for your future, or a child’s future? What strength is lacking for an impossible but necessary decision? Follow the Lord’s example and, like Him, pray. God has given you an effective resource in prayer. As one of my favorite prayer verses bids:
“Let us… come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
God bless you and keep you as you pray for God’s will for you in this New Year!
If consistent and powerful prayer is missing from your life, visit the Free Resources section of our website for the simple guide, “Prayer for Living after God’s Own Heart.” You will find deeper study in my book, The Heart of A Woman Who Prays.