Jesus’s ministry began with prayer at His baptism (Luke 3:21), then fasted for 40 days before His public ministry (Matt. 4:1-2). During His public ministry, He would frequently draw away to pray, even when throngs of people wanted His time (e.g. Luke 5:15-16). And shortly before his death, He prayed earnestly for His coming crucifixion (Luke 22:39-46), then prayed moments before His death (Luke 23:46).
In fact, Jesus’ time of prayer was so moving to his disciples that it prompted them to ask Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1).
He answered this, teaching “the Lord’s prayer” (Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4).
Throughout His ministry He taught them further how to pray, “that they should always pray and not give up,” (Luke 18:1).
The Early Church
Then, after Jesus left, his followers, “all joined together constantly in prayer,” (Acts 1:14).
In fact, prayer was so important to the early church that the leaders prioritized it over their serving of the poor and needy, wanting to, “give our attention to prayer,” (along with ministering the word, see Acts 6:4).
This theme marks the early church at many other turns throughout Acts: when persecution begins to break out (Acts 4), when Peter is imprisoned (Acts 11), and all the way to the end when Paul is at a strange island (Acts 28:8).
New Testament Letters
This powerful thrust to be a praying people is seen in virtually all of the rest of the New Testament:
- “Be…faithful in prayer.” (Rom. 12:12)
- “I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding;” (1 Cor. 14:15)
- “You help us by your prayers,” (2 Cor. 1:11)
- “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Eph. 6:18)
- “In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6)
- “Devote yourselves to prayer,” (Col. 4:2)
- “Pray continually,” (1 Thes. 5:17)
- “We constantly pray for you,” (2 Thes. 1:11)
- “I urge, then first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people,” (1 Tim. 2:1)
- “I constantly remember you in my prayers.” (2 Tim. 1:3)
- “I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.” (Philemon 1:22)
- “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:16)
- “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray….The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:13-16)
- Husbands are told to conduct themselves with their wives in a certain way, “so that nothing will hinder your prayers,” (1 Pet. 3:7)
- “If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life.” (1 John 5:16)
- “Building yourselves up in the most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,” (Jude 1:20).
- In unfolding the events of the future of God’s people, everything is weighed with, “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people,” (Rev. 5:8).