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The New Testament Church was born in a prayer meeting at Pentecost. Jesus promised power to His Church if they would but wait on Him. Paul‚Äôs writings are filled with so many references to prayer it almost seems as if he spent his entire ministry simply praying from one city to the next!
But the awesome prayer life of the apostles and the early Church was only a pale reflection of our Lord‚Äôs devotion to prayer.
When we look at the life of our Lord Jesus, we are amazed at how important He considered prayer. He began His ministry with 40 days of fasting and prayer. At critical junctures, such as choosing the 12 disciples and before going to the cross, He spent whole nights in prayer. Jesus was forever withdrawing from the crowds to spend extended times alone with God the Father.
Yet, for Jesus, it was more than just spending time. Jesus not only made prayer a priority, but He modeled a life of constant prayer. Jesus demonstrated an attitude of prayer in His every action.
Jesus showed us that true prayer is not found in any of the formulas to which we cling. In fact, it is not necessarily even words or thoughts. Instead, prayer starts with what you are in your heart! It is more an attitude than an action.
Effective, genuine prayer is a dialogue with God. It rolls together dependence, humility, obedience, submission and worship. Finally, it waits on God to display His grace and mercy.
Such prayers as these may burst forth with a single phrase or sentence. This is why the Lord Jesus would frequently lift His eyes to the Father and utter one-sentence prayers that brought instant answers‚ÄĒhealed bodies and stilled storms.
More than by giving us a set of phrases and words, Jesus exemplified a moment-by-moment dependence on God in His prayer life. We have not learned to pray as Jesus taught us to until we have learned to live prayerfully as He did. His prayers sprung naturally and spontaneously out of a constant awareness of the Father‚Äôs will. He enjoyed a well-practiced intimacy with the Father. He did not pray to God, but with God. Until we learn to pray with the Son in the same way He did with the Father, we have not learned the basic posture of prayer.