Rather than focus on what Jesus said about prayer, let’s focus on what Jesus did in prayer. The popular phrase (at least when I was in junior high) says, “What Would Jesus Do?” Fortunately, we don’t have to speculate about what Jesus would do about anything, since we have four accounts of what he actually did.
So, prayer… what did Jesus do?
1. Get away. Jesus prayed… away from distractions.
Throughout the Gospels, it is recorded that Jesus got away to pray. Early in the morning (Mark 1), on a mountain (Matthew 14), alone (Luke 6). Jesus often needed to be by himself while praying so he could connect with his Father free of distractions.
There are innumerable distractions in our lives. Notifications on the iPhone, MacBook, iPad (bias showing), text messages, phone calls, emails, that burning desire to see how many likes that one Instagram photo received before finally turning in for the night.
Jesus knew the same distractions. Ok, maybe he didn’t have an iPhone (though I bet he wanted one!), he knew demands on his attention, time, and energy. People wanted to connect with him, wanted to be near him, and he needed to get away.
In the busyness of life, it often seems difficult to find a mountain or venture into the wilderness to spend time with God. However, it may simply look like turning the push notifications off, leaving our phones in the other room, taking an afternoon walk outside of the office.
The Creator wants to spend time with His creation. Let’s follow Jesus’ example and get away from the distractions, which vie for our attention and ultimately keep us from hearing God.
2. Get ready. Jesus prayed… in different ways and in different positions.
He got ready in a posture of prayer. Matthew writes that Jesus prayed with his hands on others (Matthew 19:13) and while his face was on the ground (Matthew 26). Luke points out that he was known to kneel before God in prayer (Luke 22). And John recorded that Jesus even prayed with his eyes open, looking up toward heaven (John 17).
Jesus used his body in prayer. Different positions evoke different emotions. Arms wide and face up is a vulnerable place to be, causing ourselves to be exposed before God. Head down and kneeling allow us to be humble before our Savior.
Get your body ready, in a posture of prayer. There’s no special formula, no hand motions, and no impossible positions to attain before we can connect with our Father. But we can learn from Jesus that prayer can, and should, be more than just closing eyes and bowing heads. By positioning ourselves [kneeling, lying face down, arms spread wide, hands up, eyes open] we put ourselves into a place where we can surrender, be vulnerable, be ready to receive what God has for us.
3. Get comfortable. Jesus prayed… A lot.
Luke records that Jesus “went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12 ESV). All night he continued in prayer. All night he continued. All night.
Both Mark and Matthew’s accounts of Jesus’ experience in the Garden of Gethsemane show us that Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39 ESV). And he prayed this multiple times during his time in the garden that night.
Sometimes prayer looks like returning to God over and over again, abiding in Him and His promises. Sometimes prayer looks like getting comfortable and sitting down for a while, allowing God to speak in the silence.
Get away, if just for a moment.
Get ready, maybe opening your hands to receive from God.
Get comfortable, as you will always be coming before God in prayer.