Actually, there is no secret about prayer. Instead, God lays out His concerns rather clearly in Scripture. However, for us, prayer might seem confusing. We therefore ask:
· What does God want from us in prayer? Hours? Fervent emotions? The expectation that we will receive what we are asking for? Confidence? Asking according to God’s will?
If we look at the life of Jesus, many of these questions can be resolved. For one thing, Jesus spent many hours in prayer, sometimes the entire night:
· One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. (Luke 6:12; NIV; Matthew 14:22)
However, I think that there was something even more significant than the length of time about Jesus’ prayers. He was heard by the Father because His prayers were the product of His humble submission:
· During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered. (Hebrews 5:7-8)
These two verses are highly informative. Somehow, His “reverent submission” was the product of suffering. As a human, He too had to be taught by the strict taskmaster of suffering. If this was true for Jesus, it is especially true for us. We too must learn humble submission through suffering.
There was also fervency in His prayer – “cries and tears.” These didn’t have to be artificially manufactured. They were a byproduct of two things – the understanding that He had to rely exclusively on the Father and suffering.
However, He was heard, not because of His tears but because of His “reverent submission.” He was continually about His Father’s business:
· "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)
· So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." (John 8:28-29)
Jesus taught us that we had to seek God above all else:
· But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
However, for Jesus, it wasn’t just about seeking God above everything else; it was about seeking Him exclusively. No wonder all things were given to Him in prayer. He also knew to ask according to the will of the Father.
But don’t worry that you have to first reach a high degree of spiritual maturity for your prayers to be heard. Our Lord knows how to take care of us babes:
· In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. (Romans 8:26-27)
(You can purchase my book, Prayer: Confronting the Confusion,” at
or “Theology: Reclaiming the Relevance,” either one for $7