5 Ways Luke's Gospel Focuses on Prayer

Mon November 11, 2019 · Comments

Prayer isn't a chore or a task the Christians are called to perform—it's a necessary function of the Christian life. In fact, the Bible encourages us to do it continually. Why? Because it keeps us connected to God. It's more than a means of requesting help and favor—it's about maintaining a relationship.

Thanks to Luke's Gospel, we can see this clearly in Jesus's life. Luke takes special care to show his readers that Jesus depended on His relationship with God throughout His ministry. Luke doesn't just tell us that Jesus prayed a lot. He often links those prayers to significant moments in Christ's life.

Let's take a look at five insights we learn about Jesus and prayer from the Gospel of Luke. 

1. Jesus prays at His baptism

Every Gospel writer talks about Jesus's baptism and testifies to the appearance of the Holy Spirit and the voice of God. But only Luke includes this small detail:

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased" (Luke 3:21–22*, emphasis added).

It's inspiring to notice that Jesus was reaching up as God's attention was focused on Him. This amazing convergence of the Trinity in full view of onlookers happened as Jesus was in prayer—and prayer would play an essential role in maintaining that connection. 

2. Jesus prays in lonely places

It didn't take long for Jesus to become a big draw around Galilee.

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:15–16).

As crowds of people demanded more of Him, there was going to be a cost. He'd often end up ministering late into the night. Traveling uninterrupted from town to town was going to become impossible. But Luke wants us to understand that this didn't change Jesus's priorities.

Not only was Jesus committed to spending time with God, but He would go out of His way to find secluded places where He could commune with His Father. His days were too full not to pray. 

3. Jesus prays before choosing the apostles

God's redemptive plan relied on the men Jesus chose as disciples. Not only would they play a significant part in His ministry, but they would play a key role in the establishment of the church. Understanding the magnitude of this decision, Luke explains:

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor (Luke 6:12–16).

What did Jesus do before this critical decision? He prayed all day and night. The only perfect person to ever exist knew that big decisions and prayer needed to go hand in hand. 

4. Jesus prays for Peter

During the Last Supper, Jesus tells Peter that difficult times are on the horizon. Before the night's over, the impulsive disciple would betray Him:

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:31–32).

It's heartening to know that Jesus was already praying for Peter. And He wanted to encourage Peter with this fact. This should encourage us as well. Because Jesus is praying for us, too!

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them (Hebrews 7:25).

5. Jesus prays for His persecutors 

Even amid the turmoil and pain of the crucifixion, Jesus still demonstrated the importance of prayer. As His tormentors taunt Him and gamble for His clothes, Jesus speaks a prayer for their forgiveness:

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).

This perfectly illustrated Jesus's teaching about dealing with our enemies. He clearly told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). In the end, He demonstrated that these weren’t merely empty words. He would pray for His enemies when He was at His most vulnerable—and His death would ensure a path for His enemies to be reconciled once and for all. 

Luke wants us to understand the importance of prayer

These are just a handful of instances where Luke communicates the urgent primacy of prayer. In fact, two parables we only find in Luke's Gospel are the parables of the friend seeking bread (Luke 11:5–8) and the persistent widow (Luke 18:2–8). These parables encourage us to pray with boldness and persistence. Luke grasped the power of prayer and wanted to communicate that to us.

Thankfully, he left us with clear examples of Jesus's reliance on prayer. And if Jesus needed it, how much more do we? Learn how conversational prayer can revive your prayer life.

*All Scripture references quote the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

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