The Secret of Praying Like Jesus

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

  Mark 1:35

In a world where there are so many different kinds of prayer and meditation, what is the right way to pray? Should we just pray the Lord’s Prayer? Do we pray alone, or with a priest? Do we need rosary beads, or a tallit? Can we pray at home, or does prayer work better in church?


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What does the Bible really say about prayer? And how can we be sure that our prayers will be answered?

Jesus both modeled and taught prayer to His disciples, and with a life steeped in miracles and healing, it follows that Jesus would be the best person to emulate in the area of prayer!

How to Pray

In His famous “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus taught His followers exactly how to pray:

  1. Pray in SECRET. “Pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:6)
  2. Pray SINCERELY, from the heart. “When you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:7)
  3. Pray STEADILY. “Then [Jesus] spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…” (Luke 18:1)
  4. Pray in SOLITUDE. “When you pray you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” (Matthew 6:5)
  5. Pray with the door SHUT. “But you, when you pray, go into your innermost room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father…” (Matthew 6:6)


Why all the secrecy and solitude? Each of these Bible verses puts our focus for prayer on developing an intimate, personal relationship with the Father.

Jesus recognizes that most people need a “safe place” to be fully honest and open-hearted with one another. Where we pray doesn’t matter. Yet when we intentionally ‘shut the door’ to external distractions or people’s interruptions, we open the door to the interior realms of our heart, where true spiritual communion takes place.

While many religions stress that an “expert” such as a pastor or priest must be present to pray, the Bible teaches no such thing. Abraham, Jacob, and Jesus approached God personally, and God expects us to do so as well.

We are all God’s children, part of a spiritual family, and equal in His eyes. Often, those whose hearts are most open to hearing from Him are those we would consider the least likely to do so! It is the condition of our hearts – not the possession of titles or trinkets – that qualifies us to meet with God. (Luke 11:52.)


What to Pray

While Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer as a framework for our quiet times, He never meant for it to be the only prayer we pray. It is simply a starting point, reminding us that honoring God as holy, forgiving our offenders, trusting God for daily provision and deliverance are all essential elements of prayer. Ephesians 6:18 expands on this: “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (NIV)

No prayer or conversation with God is ever really “off limits.” God’s priority – and therefore ours – is that we connect heart to heart. God is true, and He values “truth in the inward parts.” (Psalm 51:6)

Talking to God as we would to a close friend is the highest compliment we can pay Him, and a worthy way to honor the sacrifice Jesus made through His death and resurrection. Jesus opened the way to the “holy of holies” so that we can approach God boldly.

Reading Jesus’ prayers in John 17 and Matthew 26:36-46 is one of the best ways to see what true prayer looks like. Jesus was not stiff or religious about His conversations with God. He was honest, pouring out His heart, His emotions, His hopes and His fears, just as we can do.


When to Pray

Unlike other religious leaders, Jesus never established set times to pray. Instead, He encouraged us to pray whenever we need to.

A comprehensive look at the Bible’s teachings shows that prayer is a lifestyle, not a ritual.

We pray “Continually.”



“In every circumstance.”

Jesus was among the busiest of all pastors, ministering sometimes for days on end. When did He pray? Very often, Jesus escaped to the mountains at night to avoid the crowds and refresh Himself for His next ministry journey.

As a busy wife and mom of three, I’ve found that no matter what time of day I try to pray, there are always distractions pulling me away from my quiet times. Mornings, evenings, even mid-day times seem so full of obligations and interruptions!

One day as I prayed I felt strongly impressed to start meeting with God at night instead. (Think 3AM!) I am not an early-morning person, so naturally I wondered whether I’d heard God correctly!

When I started doing so, however, I found that the quiet, dark hours of the morning were perfectly conducive to communion with God. Everyone else was asleep. Dishes and laundry had to wait. The phones were silent. It was peaceful on the outside and so much easier to focus on the inside!

I now understand Jesus’ need to find a place of solitude in the early hours of each day.


Why Pray?

Why should we pray? One of the most compelling reasons I know is that prayer carries with it the promise of peace:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6-7, NKJV

Today, science is proving the truth of these Bible verses. One research study found that the majority of people who pray daily or even weekly “experience greater peace and well-being.”* Many other similar studies are showing that physical health can be improved through regular prayer and meditation.

The fruit of prayer is a healthier life and greater self-control in the midst of challenging circumstances, whether spiritual, relational or physical. That’s something everyone should desire!

Since Jesus has ascended back into heaven, His primary role is now to intercede, or pray, for us. (See Hebrews 7:25.) If we want to be like Jesus, we can learn to pray like Jesus. We simply follow His guidelines and “fill in the blanks” with the things that are currently on our hearts.

Partnership with Jesus in prayer is the most powerful way to guard our hearts, preserve our peace, improve our health, and impact our world for the better.


© Deborah Perkins / *Pew Research: Religious Landscape Study, 2014: Link here for full data:   Have a prayer request? Contact Deborah at Want to learn more about prayer? Subscribe to Deborah’s free weekly blog here.

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The Secret of Praying Like Jesus
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